Parents' Guide to

The Book Thief

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Emotional WWII drama explores loss, literacy, and love.

Movie PG-13 2013 125 minutes
The Book Thief Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 18 parent reviews

age 13+

Beauty and light in the face of darkness

We watched this with our 15-year-old son who is a writer himself and who is currently reading historical fiction about WWII and Nazi Germany. He hasn't studied the period yet systematically in school, and he was transfixed by this movie -- I think as much by the poignancy about writing as life and humanity in the face of loss and threat and violence as by the particular storyline itself. He has not read the book version yet and I hope he does. We talked through a number of the historical events that are signaled in the film. He is 15 but I think a thoughtful 13-14-year-old would also appreciate it. I think I would have loved it at that age.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.
age 13+

German Family Resists Tyranny in Historical Fiction Movie

Liesl Memminger, the movie's main character, is adopted by two Germans named Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Liesl goes to school and joins the Hitler youth and befriends a boy named Rudy. In the meantime the Hubermanns are faced with a daring decision: to hide a Jew named Max. They are willing to take the risk, hiding Max in the basement, and soon Liesl and Max become friends, bonding over their interest in books. The title of this movie "The Book Thief"--is due to Liesl's risky choice in swiping a book from the site of a Nazi book burning. She also 'borrows' books from the Burgermeister's house as well. Despite being part of the Hitler youth, she displays disgust towards Nazi ideology and claims to "hate the Führer". I enjoyed this movie. It was full of action, had great heroes, but no shortage of heartbreak. This movie does have some scenes of violence and mild language but it's not that intense and nothing that an average thirteen year old can't handle. It's a glimpse into the life of a German family during the Third Reich and World War II and it's a fine story. I was going to give it four stars for the plot and visuals, but I'm giving it three because I found parts of the movie to be cheesy. It's a personal opinion that may not be shared by others but I felt that many scenes could have had better acting. 3/5.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (18):
Kids say (58):

The film may not steal your heart quite as powerfully as Zusak's novel, but it is faithful enough to show moviegoers why the characters are so beloved. Take Rudy, he's a "boy with hair the color of lemons" who doesn't care that his Olympic idol Jesse Owens is black -- he just wants to run fast and convince Liesel to give him a kiss. Then there's Max, who shows Liesel how to resist hate, and who paints over the pages of Mein Kampf to give Liesel a place for her words. And class actors Rush and Watson are fabulous as the bickering but loving Hubermanns, who really love their new daughter. This is a movie that will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you hold your books close to your heart.

Markus Zusak's novel is unforgettable: How many books are narrated by Death? The movie doesn't pull off the Death narration quite as seamlessly as the novel (plus, Allam's voice is stereotypically deep and knowing), but the at-times heartbreaking story will still resonate with viewers, who will grow to love young plucky Liesel. Nelisse is lovely as the curious Liesel, who despite losing her entire immediate family, is open to love -- whether it's from her parents, her new friend Max, or her best friend Rudy.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate