Why Are Children Fascinated By Pirates?

pirate ship toy

Why do Kids Love Pirates?

For generations both children and adults haven’t been able to resist a good pirate adventure. The legendary stories of plunder of the high seas, featuring treasure hunting villains of fearful reputation often missing limbs and almost always with a weakness for women and rum. The reality of pirates doesn’t really match the romanticised view we have of them, and it certainly doesn’t translate to the friendly pirates you see in kids tv shows.

Pirates attacked and robbed ships at sea, and in fact, there are still modern-day pirates operating in certain parts of the world. They were violent and dangerous and had no regard for the law yet they had their own strict moral codes and were known for their epic adventures. And a pirates life has long been romanticised, after all we all secretly love the villain in stories, they’re just more exciting.

And despite being the bad guys it is possible to pull out some good traits for pirate play. They would set sail on fearless adventures, pirate captains were great leaders, they split their plunder fairly between their crews and maintained order, discipline and a strict moral code.

And of course there is lots of fun to be had burying treasure, following a treasure map, and making each other walk the plank. In fact, pirates have become so popular we even have a national talk like a pirate day.

There are also lessons we can learn from the history of piracy. Pirates generally came, and still come, from the lowest end of society. They are people without other opportunities fighting illegally against the injustice they face.

Why did pirates become so popular?

There has long been a fascination with pirates. They were criminals of the sea and easy to be fascinated by when you were safely on dry land. Books were written about pirates as early as 1724 which included interviews with real-life pirates, and the classic treasure island tale was written in 1883.

Cinema glorified piracy in big-budget movies with great actors taking on the roles of fearsome pirates, and every child knows the story of captain hook and peter pan. And there is something about the freedom, the adventure and the disregard for the constraints of society that appeals to children and adults.

Most kids would love to sail away hunting for treasure with a talking parrot on their shoulder and no parents telling them to have a bath or go to bed at a certain time. They’re thinking about sword fights, buried treasure and living on a boat or a beach not pillage and plunder.


Next Up: Why Pirates Say “Arr” And Other Pirate Facts