Reading Level: Ages 8-12, and appropriate for 4 and up as an audio or read aloud book. The 2013 audiobook narrated by Douglas Hodge is fantastic. His narration really brings the book to life.
Read aloud time: 3 hours and 18 minutes. Length: 192 pages.
About the Author:
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is a beloved British novelist, poet, and scriptwriter, best known for such children’s books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda. Dahl began writing children’s books in 1943, while he was living in New York as a MI6 operative after being invalided out of action with the RAF during World War II. After the war, he turned to writing full time, completing 19 novels, 13 collections of stories, 3 books of poetry, and 12 scripts. Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74 and is considered one of the best children’s storytellers of the 20th century.
Here’s why kids might like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
This book tells the fun, fantastic story of 11-year-old Charlie Bucket and his visit to Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory.
When the story opens, we see the Bucket family — Charlie, his parents, and both sets of grandparents — struggling with extreme poverty, yet remaining cheerful and happy in each other’s company.
Charlie especially loves hearing his grandpa Joe’s stories about Willy Wonka and his factory. When it is announced that five children will be allowed to visit the factory by finding golden tickets, Charlie and Grandpa Joe hope against hope that Charlie will find one, and he does!
At the factory, Charlie is amazed by all of Mr. Wonka’s incredible inventions, wacky sense of fun, and his unusual workers called Oompa-Loompas. As the other children begin to get into trouble, Charlie finds himself the only remaining guest of Mr. Wonka, who has an exciting surprise for him and his family.
What makes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory worth reading?
When we finished listening to this book a few weeks ago, my 4 year old immediately shouted out “That was such a fun book! Can we read it again?.” And, he’s right. This is a very fun book, full of imaginative adventures and rich descriptions of delectable delights.
It is also, however, a book very much concerned with teaching children to be kind, respectful, selfless, generous, and self-controlled. Indeed, Dahl’s treatment of the four other children (and their parents) who visit the factory with Charlie (and especially the Oompa-Loompas’ songs about the vices of each) is a bit excessive, but serves to highlight Charlie’s contrasting humility and moral character. Charlie is an endearing and likeable character, one with whom children will identify and enjoy joining on his adventures in Wonka’s incredible factory.
A few ways to discuss Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with your child:
- What is Charlie’s home and family like at the beginning of the book? Is Charlie happy? How does he find ways to make the most of the simple things he has?
- Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee each misbehave while visiting Mr. Wonka’s factory and are “punished” accordingly. Do you feel their punishment(s) are just? How is Charlie different from these other children?
- Why does Mr. Wonka want to give his factory to a child? Why does he choose Charlie?
Publication Details: Book: New York: Puffin Books, reprint edition, 2007. First published in 1964. Audiobook: New York: Penguin Audio, 2013. Narrated by Douglas Hodge.