Summertime is almost over and that means it’s still blockbuster time! Even us book-loving librarians enjoy a good family movie from time to time.
Of course, the definition of a “good” movie is up for debate. Especially in the case of a movie “based on,” “inspired by,” or otherwise “adapted from” a book.
Summer is the perfect time to make a family event of reading a book, watching the movie version, and comparing the two over a big bowl of popcorn. Your kids will have so much fun, they’ll never notice that you’re preventing summer slide by working their reading and critical thinking skills.
When a book is turned into a movie there are several factors that determine whether you’ll prefer the book or the movie. These also make great talking points for a family discussion:
- Did you read the book before seeing the movie? If so, you’ve used your imagination to build the author’s world as you read. In other words, you’re your own director. How did what you imagine differ from the movie?
- If you read the book first, how much did you like it? If you loved the book, you’re probably going to take issue with at least a few parts of the movie. Because a movie shows you the director’s and screenwriter’s version of the book. And neither the screenwriter nor the director are going to imagine the characters and setting quite as you did. What parts of the book did the movie change?
- If you haven’t read the book, you might enjoy the movie on its own terms. How did the movie do a good job of bringing the setting and characters to life? Did the movie add details that enhanced the theme of the book?
No matter where your opinion falls on the spectrum of “good to bad” translation, the most fun part of the process is comparing the book and movie – and debating your opinion with friends and family.
One movie that I think did a great job bringing the book to the screen is Holes by Louis Sachar. (That might be because Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay.)
But I generally have mixed feeling when books I really love are made into movies, as in the case of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
And sometimes I become incoherent with rage and anguish when I think about how wonderful books are turned into terrible movies. The first to come to mind is generally Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.
Here are a dozen more options to explore:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (movie title: Ramona and Beezus)
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce (movie title: Meet the Robinsons)
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
What are some of your family’s favorite–and least favorite–books to movies?