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The Secret Garden

Book review by
Katherine Kearns, Common Sense Media
The Secret Garden Book Poster Image
Beautiful classic filled with magic and realism.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 22 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

For the serious kid reader, this is a stay-up-all night, flashlight-under-the-covers story with fine watercolor illustrations. The book combines realism, mystery, and moral sensibility to make a world children will love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In a story written and taking place in imperial England, some class and race issues arise. Burnett shows the children's acquired prejudices to be part of their ignorance, but her attitude toward Colin's "Rajah"-like behavior is sometimes ambiguous.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this beautifully written book shows two selfish, disagreeable children transformed by the magic of nature and their own imaginations as they work to bring a near-dead garden back to life. Audiobook version read by Victoria McGee.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 10, and 13 year old Written byAvid book reader February 2, 2013

A book that will engage most 7+ year old girls!

This is a beautiful book which I read aloud to each of my girls when they where 8 years old. Both of them loved it and would beg me to continue reading it. Th... Continue reading
Adult Written bySamiam5 April 9, 2008

LOVED it then, LOVE it now

As a 5th grader, 10 yrs old, this book was an eye opener! I loved it then and am anxious for my 10 yr old to read it. She LOVES books and I never thought of thi... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008

The best book in the history o the best books

At first the main character Mary Lennox is a spoild brat but after she finds the secret garden she starts thinking about other people and their feelings. At fi... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
great book

What's the story?

Two cousins -- one motherless, the other an orphan -- are so monstrously spoiled that no one can stand them and they can hardly stand themselves. With the help of a boy of the moors and some natural magic, they discover an abandoned garden and return it to abundance. As the garden grows the children grow -- into their own better selves.

Is it any good?

If you think a book from 1911 might be too stodgy to interest children, think again. Children like Frances Burnett's ability to tell the truth about her characters without condemning them. Mistress Mary, quite contrary, "was a self-absorbed child," and Colin "thought the whole world belonged to him." But Burnett makes it clear that these children have been raised without their parents' love.

Children will first be caught by the mysterious world that unfolds, and then comforted to see Colin and Mary reclaim themselves, with a little help from Mother Nature and kind friends. Burnett sets a tone balanced between unflinching realism and high optimism -- not too hard, not too soft.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about consideration and neglect.

  • Who does the author hold responsible for the children's bad temperaments at the beginning of the book? Is that fair?

Book details

For kids who love magic and the power of the imagination

Our editors recommend

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