My kids are movie junkies. They love watching movies and tv. I'm not so much now although I have been at different times in my past.
What I do get behind 100% is books. I love love love books, and even my kids are totally in love with audiobooks. We listen every single time we get in the car, and we have listened to hundreds and hundreds of hours of books over the last five years. Every book we listen to is their new favorite (although I think Harry Potter might hold for a while).
When I taught high school science, I loved to pair books and movies. I had my science students read – READ! – and we watched movies and discussed how they were similar and different. It was all great fun.
I do the same thing with my kids now, and I love the big, juicy conversations that develop from the pairings. Kids very quickly learn that the books are almost always better and richer, even when the movies are really well done (as are the ones below).
I know this is a ginormous list (and they really are all very good!), but let me highlight our current favorites for you. Included with every book and movie pairing in the list is a brief description of it and why we like it (or don't, in a few cases).
Our Favorite Book to Movie Pairings
- Anne of Green Gables (book/miniseries) – The very, very best!
- Beauty & The Beast (book/animated movie/live action movie) – My favorite Disney movie
- The Blind Side (book/movie) – Inspirational & a feel-good movie
- Charlotte's Web (book/animated movie/live action movie) – The underdog wins because someone believed in him.
- Chronicles of Narnia (book/movie) – Rich fantasy that gives kids a whole new world
- Harry Potter (book/movie) – Every kid can relate to Harry who is totally misunderstood but wins all the things in the end.
- Jurassic Park (book/movie) – The ultimate book to movie story for teens, but much too scary for my kids at this point
- Sarah, Plain and Tall (book/movie) – A wonderful story of good things coming from hard things
- The Secret Garden (book/movie) – A selfish brat becomes wonderful, kind friend
117 Best Book to Movie Pairings for Kids, Teens, & Families – Part 1 (A-C)
- Alice in Wonderland (book/animated movie/live action movie) – This is honestly not one of my favorites, but the book is interesting and odd and much better than the movies. It's got puzzles and twists that aren't in the movies. The animated Disney movie, of course, is highly sanitized and kid-friendly, while the live action movie (also by Disney) is a sequel and much grittier (maybe even scary for very young or very sensitive kiddos).
- Anne of Green Gables (book/miniseries) – Anne is an orphan who is accidentally sent to an older woman and her brother on Prince Edward Island in Canada, and she is spunky and interesting and finds adventures and foibles everywhere. The book is the first in a long series, and there are several movies as well. I have linked here to the original, absolutely wonderful miniseries that showed on PBS. You can't go wrong with these; the books and the miniseries are both amazing.
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (book/movie) – This is a silly movie that will leave kids and adults laughing heartily. It's about three orphans who go to live with an older bachelor relative, and they find gold. Of course, there are two bumbling outlaws trying to steal their bounty, and the whole thing is ridiculous in a good way.
- Around the World in 80 Days (book/movie) – These two aren't as similar as a lot of others on this list, but they are both good in their own right and there are enough parallels to get a good discussion going. The inventors in the movie especially have to work together or fail, which is a great message to kids.
- Arthur & The Minimoys/Arthur & The Invisibles (book/movie) This is a cute story about a little boy who sets out to save his family's home from a real estate developer. He finds a whole new world full of tiny people who help him, and he discovers a surprise he never expected to find.
- Babe the Gallant Pig (book/movie) Because they're both about pigs, this book is often compared to Charlotte's Web. This one is about a little pig who is raised by a sheepdog and wants to become a sheep-pig. He saves the day time and again and earns himself recognition and reward. It's a very cute story that your kids will love.
- Ballet Shoes (book/movie) In the amazing movie, You've Got Mail, the children's bookshop owner (Meg Ryan) talks about the Shoes books by Noah Streatfield. They're wonderful, she says, and her favorite children's books. That's one of my favorite movies, and it made me curious about the books. It turns out that Streatfield wrote a whole series of novels, but only Ballet Shoes has been made into a movie.
- Balloon Farm (book/movie) This short picture book is about Harvey Potter, a farmer who grows balloons, and the little girl who discovers his secret. The movie, naturally, is a bit different because it's more developed. It's about a drought-ravaged town, but there's still a little girl who looks for the farmer's secret. Definitely worth watching.
- Beauty & The Beast (book/animated movie/live action movie) – The story in the book might surprise you as it is VERY different from the movies. The animated and live action movies are pretty parallel, though, and even include the same music. Beauty and the Best is personally my favorite Disney movie, and I really love the book version as well.
- Because of Winn-Dixie (book/movie) – This sweet story is about a sad and lonely little girl who adopts a scruffy dog and learns about gratitude and contentment. The audiobook is narrated by the one and only Cherry Jones who narrated the Little House on the Prairie books.
- Beezus & Ramona (book/movie) – We listened to the audiobook version of the Ramona stories, which are read by Stockard Channing and absolutely wonderful. We laughed and laughed at the little girl and her family (but mostly at Ramona) in the books. The movie is pretty good, too; it's got a great cast and sticks pretty closely to the story in the book.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (book/movie) – If you've never read this book, you are seriously missing out. It is HILARIOUS. It's basically the story of a Christmas pageant gone awry with this large family of very unruly children, but it is just so good. We listen to the audiobook every single year at Christmastime, and the movie is also good.
- The BFG (book/movie) – This is a cute book and movie about a little girl and the giant she befriends. I love the look of the giant in the movie, and his voice and demeanor are just so endearing. He's puny (for a giant) and gets bullied by the rest of the giants. The book is by Roald Dahl, so you know it's amazing, too.
- Black Beauty (book/movie) The book is a series of stories about the people encountered by a horse, Black Beauty. Some of the people are kind, and some are cruel. The movie is the same, although being a movie, it is more powerful and immediate and not appropriate for younger or more sensitive kids. (There are scenes where the horse is abused or endangered, and one dies from neglect.)
- The Blind Side (book/movie) – I actually saw this movie before I read the book. The movie, with Sandra Bullock as Leigh Ann Tuohy, is fabulous. The story, based on the real life of an NFL player, is about a large, homeless African American teen whose family is non-existent. He gets into an elite private school because of his athletic ability and pure luck, and a wealthy white woman notices him on a cold night and takes him home. The story goes on from there, and it is an amazing, heartwarming, and simply wonderful story that you and your kids will love.
- The Borrowers (book/1998 movie/1973 movie) The Borrowers are a race of tiny people who live under the floor of an old house and borrow items from the “human beans” who live there with them. The 1998 movie is a cute and interesting movie, but it is not as close to the original story as the 1973 movie.
- Bridge to Terabithia (book/2007 movie) I have to admit that I HATED this book when I was a kid. (And, I can't find it now, but I'm 100% sure there was a movie back then.) One of the main characters dies, and I had spent a lot of my childhood running from all emotions, so I didn't want to read a book that made me feel them. (I know; I have issues.) But the book and movie are both really, really good and teach important lessons about dealing with grief and loss, being brave (before the death), the power of imagination, and being resilient in the most painful circumstances.
- Caddie Woodlawn (book/movie) Caddie Woodlawn is an 11-year-old girl growing up in the backwoods of Wisconsin in 1864. She's not dainty, and she gets into a lot of mischief. Your kids, both boys and girls, will identify with her. It is worth noting that the movie doesn't follow the book all that closely, but it is worth watching and the acting is really great. The movie was made in the 1980s.
- Call of the Wild (book/1935 Clark Gable movie/1993 movie) This book is about a dog that leads a cushy life but gets thrust into the life of a sled dog in the Alaskan wilderness, told entirely from the perspective of the dog himself. The two movies are different, being told from the perspective of a young man with a similar story. There's still a dog, but the story isn't as close to the book as I would like. Still, they're good and there are some parallels.
- Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (book/Gene Wilder movie/Johnny Depp movie) – This iconic book and movie is about a little boy who is so poor he often eats the crust of bread for supper, but he finds a golden ticket which allows him (along with 4 spoiled, obnoxious kids) to get a once in a lifetime tour of the famous chocolate factory. The Johnny Depp version of the movie is a little grittier and scary than the Gene Wilder version, so it might not be great for very sensitive or very young kids.
- Charlotte's Web (book/animated movie/live action movie) – I remember watching this animated movie in the second grade. It's a story about a little pig who's destined to be slaughtered, but a kind spider pronounces him “some pig” in her web and saves his life. The book is AMAZING, but the movies are really good too.
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (book/movie) I was first introduced to this story via the 1968 Dick Van Dyke movie which is charming and wonderful. It's about a crazy inventor who dreams up a flying car and ends up saving a whole country's children after they've been made illegal by a baron. The book is quite different, but also wonderful. It's about a flying car that can make its thoughts known to the crazy inventor. There are still bad guys and lots of action, but no baron in the book.
- A Christmas Carol (book/1984 George C Scott movie) You know this story about Scrooge and the 3 ghosts and poor little Tiny Tim. The book was written by Charles Dickens in 1849 and has been made into about a hundred different movies over the years. This particular one is considered to be one of the best. It follows the book pretty closely.
- Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe (book/movie) – I did not expect to like these books or movies, but after a lot of pestering by my older daughter, I got the audiobooks and listened. They were fantastic! The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is book two in a many book series. (The first book, The Magician's Nephew, is not critical to understanding the series and isn't really related in a direct way.) The story is about four children who find their way to a magical land by way of a magical portal the youngest finds while playing hide & seek. This is classic Christian literature (Aslan the lion represents Christ), but readers and viewers of all faiths will love the story.
- Cinderella (book/animated Disney movie not available/live action movie) Cinderella, the wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters and fairy godmother and glass slipper. You know the story. Except you probably know the Disney story and not the Grimm's fairy tale. The book I've linked to here is the original Grimm's fairy tale which is gruesome in parts and very interesting. The movies are from Disney and are quite lovely even if they do depart from the original story.
- The City of Ember (book/movie) The Tim Robbins (love him!) movie departs quite a bit from the book story, but both are still well worth your time. The story is sort of sci-fi in that it is about a futuristic city that's the last refuge of the human race but is threatening to collapse. Two kids find a secret that they think will save the whole place.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (book/movie) This cute animated movie is loosely based on a picture book by the same name. In the book, it rains every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and wonderful things come from the sky. But then one day, the weather took a turn for the worse when the portions and foods started to get bigger. The book and movie are fairly different, and the intended audience for the book is younger than for the movie.
- Curious George (book/movie/tv show) There are lots and lots of Curious George adaptations, including the PBS tv show and this animated movie. I think I have watched most of the tv series as my older daughter was enamored with George for years. You probably already know that George is a monkey, and he lives with The Man in the Yellow Hat, but did you know how George came to live with the man? That and many more tidbits are addressed in both the book and this movie adaptation. Note that this particular movie is very different from the PBS tv series.
I was going to make this enormous list of 117 book-movie pairings into a single post, but when I crested 6,000 words, I realized that no one would ever read that much of it and decided to break it into more manageable chunks. I'll link to part 2 here once it publishes.
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