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.
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That being said, it’s pretty awesome to see the book you read 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 books turned into movies for kids. We have included movies and books that are for tween aged kids (aged 9-12) and a few that are more appropriate for teens.
The Best Books for Tweens Made into Movies
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 with 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.
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.
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 a intricately illustrated book that introduces readers to the young clock maker, thief, orphan Hugo. The book is absolutely captivating. Fortunately, the movie is equally impressive. Director Martin Scorcesse works his magic and the actors give stunning performances.
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.
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 heart warming as the 2006 live action version. Which one will your kids like best?
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 learn 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.
Our Favourite Teen Books Made into Movies
These selections contain more mature content and the movies are more visually challenging for younger kids. I have always found that when it comes to more mature stories, the books are often the best place to start. Once a kid reads a book, they know the storyline and this can decrease their stress as they watch a thrilling movie. You know your kid and what he/she can handle.
The Hunger Games – Kids battling each other for survival and it’s all a big game – that’s The Hunger Games. However, that’s the superficial storyline, there’s a lot more going on in this series. Older tween readers are captivated by the story and the strong female character – Katniss Everdeen.
Divergent – Another dystopian book series – where the children are fighting for their survival and making choices and decisions that are beyond their years. Again, impressive female characters take the lead. Be forewarned, the movies might not be as good as the books. What did your kids think?
The Book Thief – The Book Thief takes place in Austria during World War II. The story follows a young girl’s life as she tries to understand and cope with the Nazi oppression and death that surrounds her. Yes, death is a major theme of the book, however author Markus Zusak manages to present a story that young teens will cherish. The film is rated PG-13 due to some difficult scenes, but if your child has read the book they should find the movie less shocking.
The Maze Runner – Imagine waking up and not knowing where you are, who you are and what you are doing. The Maze Runner is an action packed book with an equally action packed movie adaptation.
The Outsiders – Yep, The Outsiders from our youth. You really can’t beat this story of family – whatever shape a “family” happens to take. The book is a must read and the film captures a moment in time.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Atticus, Boo, Scout, Jem and Dill everything seems to be colliding in the hot southern sun. Kids most definitely have to read the book before watching this film. In fact, the two are quite different, but are equally brilliant. Which is your favourite? The book or the movie?
The Fault in Our Stars – The Fault in Our Stars is a modern take on a Shakespearian tragedy. Two star-crossed lovers find that their is might be a fault in their stars. The movie is equally moving and captures the spirit of the book.
Did you favourite book-to-movie make our list? Share your fave in the comments below and we will add it to the list.
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