When my youngest daughter asked if we could watch the Harry Potter movies, my immediate response was “no”. My reply had nothing to do with not wanting her to watch the movies, I simply wanted her to read the book first. I explained to my daughter that the movies are fabulous, but the real magic is in the books. After she devoured all of the books (reading them over and over and over again) she told me that she agreed with me. The magic is in the book. We love discovering the magic on the pages of all kinds of amazing books for kids.
Be sure to check out all of our amazing book recommendations on our EPIC Top Books for Kids page.
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That being said, it’s pretty awesome to see the book you read to come to life on film. Right? This is a super fun summer activity to do with your kids. Read the book then watch the movie. Seriously, so much fun! So, we’ve put together our list of the best movies based on books for kids. We have included books made into movies for tweens (aged 9-12).
The Best Books Made into Movies for Tweens
Harry Potter Series – Clearly, I had to start off with my absolute favourite books – the Harry Potter series. Read the entire series and pick your favourite…it’s hard to pick a favourite. Then make your way through the movies. Which do you love more? The books or the movies?
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe – The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of books by author C.S. Lewis – the most popular book in the series is The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child, I loved this book. After reading the book, watch the 2005 movie of the same name. It’s amazing to see the world C.S.Lewis created come to life.
The Spiderwick Chronicles – You have to love a story that has kids moving into a spooky, large estate. The Spiderwick Estate fits the bill. A thrilling adventure with fairies and mystical creatures that kids will love to read and to watch!
Alice in Wonderland – Alice in Wonderland is a classic children’s book that works as a read aloud book or a fun summer read. When the book is done, fall down the rabbit hole into Disney’s cartoon version of the book or the modern live action film. Maybe spend the day comparing the two versions…which one will be your favourite?
How to Train Your Dragon – Hiccup and Toothless began their adventures in a book. Now that Netflix has the Dragons series, kids might not even be aware of the book that started it all. Taking the time to read the book might provide a little more insight into the story of these familiar characters.
Wonder I remember the first time my eldest daughter read Wonder. She was moved to tears. Auggie’s remarkable story will teach your child about empathy and courage. The 2017 movie of the same name is pretty inspiring as well.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Who wouldn’t love to have a penguin? They might be more work than you think. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is an easy, quick read and the film is full of laughs. Summer movie perfection.
Coraline – If your tween enjoys something a little creepier than Coraline is perfect. Things take a surprising twist in this story. The claymation movie is a work of art…be forewarned this one will stick with you for a while.
The BFG – A number of Roald Dahl’s books have been transformed into movies. Steven Speilberg brings The BFG to life and it is spectacular. The combination of live action and animation results in a fun, touching film that is true to the original book.
Matilda – Another of Dahl’s classics, Matilda should be required reading for all children. Many of Dahl’s books deal with bullying and Matilda is no exception. Mara Wilson is the absolutely perfect Matilda Wormwood…she exudes Matildaness (not a word, but oh well). Danny Devito and Rhea Pearlman play Matilda’s parents and they are terribly mean, yet hilariously comedic.
Fantastic Mr. Fox – The first time I read Fantastic Mr. Fox I fell in love with the story. The battle between farmers and a fox was an amazing idea. I wasn’t convinced that the book could be made into a movie. Then I learned that legendary Wes Anderson would be making the film and yep, it’s awesome. Perhaps one of our family’s favourite movies – Fantastic Mr. Fox is a must-see…after reading the book. While you’re at it, you may as well read the complete Roald Dahl collection of stories and books. Netflix is creating a series that will bring all of these fantastical stories to life.
The Secret Garden – The Secret Garden is the perfect summer read for curious children. After all precocious Mary gets into all sorts of trouble due to her curiosity…but she also makes a beautiful discovery that will change her life’s path. The Secret Garden movie helps bring the story to life…like opening the garden gate.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret – The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an intricately illustrated book that introduces readers to the young clock keeper, thief, orphan Hugo. The book is absolutely captivating. Fortunately, the movie is equally impressive. Director Martin Scorcese works his magic and the actors give stunning performances.
The Hobbit – Reading The Hobbit is a right of passage for adventure-seeking tweens and teens. The trio of films that Peter Jackson made brings the incredible tale to life. This is a great summer read.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I think everyone remembers watching the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie…starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. However, if you haven’t read the book, then you’ve missed a whole lot of the magic! Give the book a read and see what I mean. This is a real triple header situation – you can read the book and watch the original movie and the 2005 update…decide which version your family likes the best.
Charlotte’s Web – Charlotte and Wilbur – the most unlikely of friends and yet the truest of friends. I loved this story so much, I named my kid after one of the characters! The 1973 Charlotte’s Web cartoon is as heartwarming as the 2006 live-action version. Which one will your kids like best? (psst, we love the cartoon more than the live-action movie)
Harriet the Spy – After reading Harriet the Spy you might want to give your child a new journal and pencil. This book ignites every young writer’s passion. Yes, there is fallout from Harriet’s writing, but she learns and evolves throughout the book and the film. A lovely film version, that sticks to the spirit of the book was made in 1996.
Where the Wild Things Are – Could author Maurice Sendak have possibly known he was writing one of the most popular children’s books of all time? A book that celebrates a child’s imagination, Where the Wild Things Are is a beautifully illustrated tale. So, it’s no surprise that the film version of the book is visually stunning as well.
Bridge to Terabithia – A story of the lives of a group of 5th graders – but it isn’t as simple and straightforward as it might seem. The Bridge to Terabithia is going to require a big box of tissues – the book and the movie.
Did your favourite book-to-movie make our list?
Share your fave in the comments below and we will add it to the list.
If your tween is looking for something a little more mature, be sure to check out our Best Teen Books Made into Movies list. We have included everything from The Outsiders, The Hunger Games to The Fault in Our Stars.
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