Nothing can replace reading a great book. But watching a good film adaptation might be the next best thing.
It’s also a great way to write about literary elements such as theme, plot, and character without reading a book. When crunched for time—or when your “books-to-read” list has grown too long—watching a movie can provide a fabulous source for writing and critical thinking. Just as we write literary analysis, we can write film analysis.
However, watching a film adaptation can either be a great experience or a letdown. How many times have you heard or said “The book was better”? To help you choose a film for you or your child to watch, here are list of great movies adapted from young adult and children’s books.
- Harry Potter series (2001-2011): These eight movies are based on the seven-book series written by J.K. Rowling. The movies follow the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, who are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, the Dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the Ministry of Magic, subjugate non-magic people, and destroy anyone who stands in his way. Just like the books, the movies increase in complexity as the characters grow up. Rated PG to PG-13
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): This musical comedy-drama fantasy film is based on L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy, along with her dog Toto, is swept away in a tornado and taken to a magical land where she embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home. Along the way she meets some memorable friends and foes. Notable for its use of fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, it has become an icon of American popular culture. Not Rated
- Charlotte’s Web (2006): Based on the popular children’s novel by E.B. White, film tells of a young girl named Fern who rescues a runty piglet and raises it as her own. Wilbur, the pig, grows into an adult pig. To her regret, the girl is forced to take the pig to the Zuckerman farm, where he is to be slaughtered for food. At Zuckerman’s barn, Wilbur meets a host of animals and later learns from them that he will be slaughtered. Wilbur’s new spider friend then hatches a plan to save the pig’s life. Rated G
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): This
fantasy film is based on the works of C.S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, essayist, and lay theologian. During the World War II bombings of London, four English siblings are sent to a country house to be safe. One day Lucy finds a wardrobe that transports her to a magical world called Narnia. After coming back, she soon returns to Narnia with her brothers, Peter and Edmund, and her sister, Susan. There they join a magical lion in the fight against the evil White Witch. Rated PG
- Night at the Museum (2006): This hilarious fantasy film is based on Milan Trenc’s children’s book. A new night watchman at a museum of natural history makes a startling discovery that takes him into a historical world of chaos and adventure. Because of the unleashing of an ancient Egyptian curse, the museum’s animals, birds, bugs, and other exhibits come to life after the building closes and the sun goes down. The encounters include a Tyrannosaurus skeleton, Old West cowboys, and former President Teddy Roosevelt. Rated PG
There are many more great films made from books—so stay tuned for part two of the list!