A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, of J.R.R. Tolkien's many excellent books, The Hobbit is the better choice for tweens. It makes a great read-aloud for kids 8 and up and read-alone for 10 or 11 and up. Kids younger than 8 will probably have a tough time with both the vocabulary and some of the violence. Of particular note for bedtime readers: scary scenes in the pitch-blackness when Bilbo the hobbit is threatened by goblins and trolls in caves, and a very creepy scene with Gollum, who keeps thinking about how he'd like to eat Bilbo. The dwarves and Bilbo are captured a few times, whipped once, almost cooked once, and strung upside down to be eaten later. Swords and arrows kill in a big battle that includes some sad deaths. Few truly gory details except a goblin head and a wolf skin propped up on a gate. And there are fights with big spiders and evil wolves. Dwarves, Gandalf, and Bilbo love their drink and making smoke rings from their pipes. This classic adventure brings out the best in the little hobbit at its center: bravery, loyalty, cunning, and the guts to take a stand against friends blinded by greed so he can help bring about peace. Rob Inglis reads the audiobook version.
What's the story?
Bilbo Baggins, a simple Hobbit, never asked for adventure. It literally came knocking on his door -- 13 dwarves (Tolkien's spelling with the \"v\") and Gandalf the wizard show up to tea to hire Bilbo as a thief in their quest to reclaim a hoard of treasure. It's stashed far away and guarded by a fierce dragon, Smaug. Bilbo will have to cross the Misty Mountains -- troll and goblin country -- and the untamed wilds of Mirkwood, where straying from the path can be deadly. In exchange, he gets an even share of the treasure and quite a story to tell. But is one little hobbit really up for such a big adventure?
Is it any good?
There are few worlds more richly imagined than Tolkien's Middle Earth. Readers would get caught up just in his exquisitely imaginative details if it weren't for the nonstop adventure; it's a perfect balance. Add to that a wonderful main character -- the hairy-footed little hobbit who truly triumphs -- and you have the perfect fantasy-adventure. This is how it's done.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Bilbo changes over the course of the book. Why is he reluctant to have an adventure at first? Would you choose a comfy hobbit-hole over a meeting with a dragon (and riches), or would you face adversity and adventure head-on?
For those reading as a family, what parts are the best to read aloud? Is it easier to get through the scary scenes with company? What other books appeal to readers of many ages?
Can you see why the fimmakers decided to break the movie version of The Hobbit into three installments?
- Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
- Publication date: September 21, 1937
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, App
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