Parent reviews for The Secret Garden

Common Sense says

Classic novel inspires love of nature.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 37 reviews

Wondering if The Secret Garden is OK for your kids?

Parents: Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Adult Written byMomtotwotoo October 6, 2015

Strong Themes of Death and Parental Abandonment and Neglect

I recently read this with my advanced 5yo daughter. While she liked the book, and found it readable and easy to follow -the abridged version we read doesn't have many complicated metaphors or inferred settings- I was quite surprised by the emphasis on death and neglect in the book.

It opens plainly stating that the main character, Mary, is not wanted by either of her parents. That cheery note is immediately followed by Mary's entire household dying from what I assume to be cholera or the like, while the little girl spends at least a day, likely more, alone in a room. She is subsequently shipped off to two households of strangers, and finally meets a boy of her age who spends a lot of time talking about not growing up, having a fatal illness, his mother's death, and how his father doesn't like him.

All that said, my daughter didn't seem phased by these details and happily finished the book. My guess is that she is too young to fully process the implications and nature of neglect, parental abandonment, and untimely death. I do, however, have friends whose young children would have nightmares, anxiety, and ask endless questions about death if they were introduced to this book too early. If you are thinking of reading this to your young child, and you know they are sensitive, I would encourage you to read the book ahead first. I have also heard that different editions of this book are more specific than others about the darker parts of this book, so you may be able to find a more child friendly version than I have.
Adult Written byMaraS March 18, 2019

Classic, but beware is a product of its time

I loved this book when I was little and loved reading it to my kids (ages 7 and 9) but parents should be warned, this book was written in 1911 and the descriptions early in the book of India are racist. The use of language throughout regarding “servants” and “natives” feels outdated if not outright wrong. I had to skip some words and change as I read. Even so, the story is still lovely, though parents may also want to think about countering messages that all illnesses can be cured by going outside ;)
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. The main character, Mary Lennox, grew up in India. Her parents left her to be raised by servants who would bow to her every whim. After her parents died due to a Cholera epidemic, Mary was sent to live with her uncle. Through the discovery of a secret garden and people around her who care enough about her not to let her always have her own way, Mary gradually changes from a sullen, unhealthy and selfish child to one who cares and loves others. In the process she also helps Collin her cousin who was talked into believing he was an invalid regain his health and desire to live. Truly a beautiful story!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written bySara Kroe July 19, 2020

Classic novel inspires love of Nature

The Secret Garden is a wonderful book for older tweens. If your child is advanced then 9+! This classic novella inspires your tween to love the world around them. The Secret Garden shows change of multiple characters like they garden they bring back!

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent Written byhannah1991 February 27, 2020
This book was written long ago (last century) and some of the descriptions of people are racist. These include calling people of color "servants" and "natives," which is outdated and very wrong nowadays. There is also death, which some young kids may not understand.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byMsSnazzy December 4, 2018

A lot of importance placed on appearances at the beginning

This is an enchanting book, but something I wish I knew at the beginning was just how much importances at the onset is placed on appearance of the mother and the heroine. Basically the whole set up is that the mother is "very very beautiful" and the girl is quite plain/ugly. And like, every character makes some comment on the mother's beauty and the girl's lack of it. It's completely a book worth reading, but I wish I were more prepared for the whole conversation with my young daughter on how much society places a huge premium on beauty.
Adult Written byEmma S. May 24, 2018

I love it

cool

This title contains:

Positive role models
Parent Written byCricket H. April 10, 2018

Read aloud for families of girls and boys

3 central characters, one girl and 2 boys and everyone gets to be a complete person, gets to grow beyond what any adult thought they might. The 2 characters present from the earliest parts (who begin as really unlikable people) find themselves, with help from time, nature, one another, and a lovely local friend.
Some bits at the very beginning may feel uncomfortable and/or dated to adults with more historical context (unquestioned colonialism is an issue in her books!), but the story is really the story of the children and the garden, and leaves the origin story behind very quickly.
Film is also good, but we fell in love with the book first, and I wouldn;t have it any other way with this story... which is, after all, about children doing the work to grow themselves!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byCatherinedanjou December 6, 2015

Change....

I'm7.and i think its' one of the best Books' i've ever read!Dickon changes marry and marry changes colin. This Book is so good!I can't chose a favourite character!I love it so much.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Parent of a 5-year-old Written bydulciew January 30, 2015

Such a great book

I loved this book when I was a kid. It is one of the few that I remember reading over and over. I read this out loud to my 5-year-old daughter and she was rapt. The notion of a "secret garden" really resonates with children. The opening chapter may be a bit disarming for some children because everyone in the main character's life dies from cholera or flees for their lives and she is left alone. I explained that cholera is not something that we deal with anymore, and that solved that. A more fearful or sensitive kid might be more bothered.
Adult Written byjenny201 March 29, 2012

Life is wonderful if you let it be

I think that this book is really good it was published in 1993. The year i was born i found it in my school library a couple weeks ago i just finished it this week. I m going to do a book report on this book. I really like this book because it shows people of all ages that people can do anything that they put there mind to. And that we can help eachother get better and be better people. We can be nice to people instead of mean and grumpy . It also shows us that life is very importan and beautiful if we let it be. And that if we think negative that were not going to be happy. But if we think positive and enjoy the beauty around us life than we will be very happy. I like this book very mush and I sugest peopel to read it i hope you enjoy the book like I did. (:
Parent of a 3, 6, and 8-year-old Written byJessicaBurton1980 January 5, 2009
Adult Written bymhbravo303 April 9, 2008
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 this book until it was recommended! THANKS!!