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. This is part 2. Click here for part 1, which is all of the movies starting with the letter A through C.
The Best Book to Movie Pairings for Kids & Families – Part 2 (D-J)
- Davy Crockett (picture book/full-length biography/1955 Disney movie) You probably already know the story of Davy Crocket (Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier… are you singing yet?). The 1955 classic movie is not directly related to a certain book, but since they are all biographies of the same man, there are a lot of parallels. I’ve heard the full-length biography is really, really good, so if you have older kids, I recommend giving it a try.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (book/movie) Middle school stinks for just about everybody, am I right? This is the story, written in journal form, of one boy’s first year of middle school. It’s the first in a series of about 873 books. I remember when the 2010 movie came out. My cousin had a little boy about that age, and she said that it was an awesome movie that their whole family loved.
- A Dog of Flanders (book/movie) There’s something magical about the story of an orphan and the abandoned dog who befriends him. There are other similar books, but this one takes a different turn in that the boy wants to be a painter. Be warned, this is a hard book about a hard life full of struggles and heartaches. Also, the book and movie has slightly different endings.
- Dr. Dolittle (book/1967 movie/1998 movie) This awesome book is about a man who can talk to animals, and the little boy who comes along with him on many adventures. The 1967 movie follows pretty closely with the book. The 1998 movie is obviously more modern but doesn’t follow the book story as much.
- Ella Enchanted (book/movie) – Ella is a princess who is cursed at birth, being compelled to do whatever she’s told. Ella in the movie is played by Anne Hathaway whom I love, and she does such a good job. The book is also very good, although I think I might have liked the movie version just a little bit better.
- Emma (book/Emma movie/Clueless movie) Emma is a mischievous rich girl who thinks she’s a great matchmaker – except that she really isn’t. The original Jane Austen book is a chronicle of her adventures, and the Emma movie is pretty close to the book. There’s also the movie Clueless with Alicia Silverstone which is very loosely based on the book. It’s PG-13, so not the best for younger kids, but very funny for teens and adults.
- Eragon (book/movie)A poor teenage boy finds a polished blue stone that he hopes might be valuable. Instead, it brings him a dragon that he learns to ride. I’ve read that you should watch the movie first – the book is so much better that the movie will be sort of boring if you’ve already read the book. This book is the first in a series of 4.
- Escape to Witch Mountain (book/movie) I remember loving this book as a kid. It’s part suspense, part sci-fi, a story about twins Tony and Tia, orphans with paranormal powers. They’re on the run from a suspicious character who is trying to adopt them, and they’re looking for whatever real family they might have left. The book is young adult fiction, but the movie is from 1975 and appropriate for younger kids.
- Five Children & It (book/movie) This is a clever story about some kids who get hooked up with a magical being who grants each of them one wish. Their wishes go wildly awry, and the result is interesting and often funny. It was written in 1902, so some of the language is a bit dated, but I think that makes it even more fun as you can talk about and learn some new words in the reading.
- My Friend Flicka (book/1943 movie/2006 movie) This book ripped my heart out, and we maybe listened to it a few years before Grace was ready. It would be best for the 10+ crowd, I think. It’s about a boy in the fifth grade whose rancher father doesn’t really approve of him, and he finally convinces his dad to let him choose a colt of his own – and he chooses a horse his father has deemed untamable. It does have a happy ending, but getting there is heartbreaking at times. The older movie is very true to the story of the book; the newer one is a loose interpretation.
- The Giver (book/movie) This interesting, award-winning 1994 book is often assigned reading in the middle school years. It’s about a boy living in a society where everything is engineered and perfect – people are polite and do what they’re told when they’re told. The job he’s assigned is the Received of Memories, and as he receives all the town’s memories from the outgoing Giver of Memories, he discovers that things are not as nice as it appears from the outside. I haven’t seen the movie yet but can’t wait to.
- Harriet the Spy (book/movie) I loved this book when I was a kid. Harriet is an aspiring journalist who spies on everyone she knows, writing their secrets in her journal for use later on. Except that her journal gets lost – and turns up in the hands of the friends she had been writing about. She has to navigate the resulting situations with grace and eat a little crow as she learns that brutal honesty isn’t always the best policy.
- Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone (book/movie) – Oh Harry Potter. I avoided HP for many years (20?) but finally decided it was time to introduce my kids. They were almost instantly totally enamored with him, and he and his friends have completely taken over our lives. We have HP costumes and wands and dolls and t-shirts and even HP slime. Harry is a scrawny kid whose parents were killed by an evil wizard, causing him to be raised by his very unkind aunt and uncle. On the eve of his eleventh birthday, he discovers that he’s a wizard and is whisked away to go to Hogwarts’ School for Witches and Wizards, where he gets into epic scrapes with that same evil wizard over and over again. We’re currently reading book 6 out of 7, and we’re watching movie 5 out of 8, and not a single one has disappointed us. I highly, highly recommend this series of books and movies.
- Hatchet/A Cry in the Wild (book/movie) This is about a boy named Brian who is on the way to visit his father in Canada when his small plane goes down, and he is stranded alone with nothing but a hatchet and the clothes on his back. He has to survive in the wilderness, all by himself. I read it in seventh grade and wrote a paper about it that won me some awards. So good. The movie is called A Cry in the Wild and follows the book pretty closely. (The movie called Hatchet is a gory adult movie, don’t be confused.)
- Heidi (book/1937 Shirley Temple movie/1993 miniseries) Heidi is the story of a little girl who is sent to live with her grumpy, reclusive grandfather, and how she turns him into something better. In some ways, it’s like Pollyanna (included in a different post) in that she is all joy and gladness, but the story is much different. Heidi eventually gets sent to take care of another little girl, and she has to grow up quickly and learn skills that she’s never considered before. It’s a wonderful story that even younger kids will enjoy.
- The Hobbit (book/movie) I had to read this book in the sixth grade and hated it. H.A.T.E.D. EVERY WORD. It’s just not a genre I enjoy (and the reason I thought I would not enjoy Harry Potter, even though HP is quite different). Still, it is a classic book that I want my children to read/hear, so I am going to give it another go. I’ve heard that the movies are fabulous, as they are done by the same director who did the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which I never watched because see above note about this genre). The one book was made into three movies.
- Holes (book/movie) This is an amazing book about a boy who gets sent to a juvenile detention center where he is forced to work, digging large holes. It’s a mystery though because the warden is secretly searching for something, and the boy tries to figure out what it is. This movie is every bit as good as the book. These two are real treasures in a list of great works.
- Hoot (book/movie) This is another excellent book about a mystery. In this one, a boy from Montana moves to Florida where he is bullied by bigger, meaner kids. But he sees a kid who intrigues him and tries to find out what’s up with the other boy.
- How to Eat Fried Worms (book/movie) This is a case where the book and the movie are VERY different, but both very good on their own or together. In both, there is a boy who eats worms. But in the book, the boy bets another kid that he can eat 15 worms in 15 days, and in the movie, there is a challenge to eat 10 worms in one day. The overall themes are basically the same, though, and it is fun to read the book first and then look for the differences in the story in the movie.
- How to Train Your Dragon (book/movie) This is a short one (The audiobook is only 3 hours and a few minutes, whereas one of the Harry Potter books is over 21 hours.), but it is the first in a series of books about a boy who has to capture and train a dragon in order to be initiated into his clan. The movie is quite different but really, really good (maybe even better than the book?).
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret/Hugo (book/movie) This is another book that’s on the shorter side (less than 3 hours), but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It is a delightfully complex mystery about where the little boy comes from and where his family have gone. This is one case where I would recommend the print book over the audiobook because the illustrations in the print book are important to the story. The movie is also very good and focuses on the history of film so you and your kids will probably learn some good stuff when you watch it.
- The Indian in the Cupboard (book/movie) I read this book in elementary school and shared it with my grandpa who also loved it. It’s a fantastic story about a little boy who gets a plastic Indian as a gift and doesn’t want it, but it comes to life and leads him on many adventures when he locks it in a magical cupboard.
- The Incredible Journey (book/ 1963 movie/ 1993 movie) This is the classic children’s book first published in 1961 about two dogs and a cat, spoiled house pets, who try to find their home over 200 miles. Separately, they would certainly have died from starvation or danger, but together, they survive the long trip and find their way back to their owner. It’s a wonderful story. The 1993 movie is almost entirely different from the book and the earlier movie, though it is still generally about two dogs and a cat who get lost trying to find their owner. But it’s a whole different scenario, story, and characters.
- Inkheart (book/movie) This is the first in a series of books about a girl who’s reading a book that comes to life in her living room. She and her father have to figure out how to harness the magic they created in the story. The movie is very different from the book and follows the events only loosely.
- The Iron Giant (book/movie) This movie was made by the man who would go on to make The Incredibles which is of course, amazing. But The Iron Giant was his debut work and stands on its own merit as one of the great animated movies ever. The story is about a boy who befriends a giant iron man and tries to protect him from the meddlesome government.
- Jacob Have I Loved (book/movie) This is a book, at its core, about sibling rivalry. The main character is a twin girl who feels like her sister gets all the love and attention, and the story follows her through her teen years, and into adulthood.
- James & The Giant Peach (book/movie) The book is written by Roald Dahl, so you know it’s going to be wonderful. It’s about a little boy who goes to live with his horrible aunts after the death of his parents. He finds some magic powder, sprinkles it on a peach tree, and sets off on a grand adventure.
- Jumanji (book/ Robin Williams movie/ 2017 movie) The book is great, but this is a case where the movie is even better. The Robin Williams version of the movie is amazing (because, Robin!) but the newer version has better special effects (and The Rock!). The 2017 movie is very different from the book, being about some teenagers whose video game comes alive, rather than the board game in the book and first movie.
- Jungle Book (book/animated movie not available/live action movie) – This book is so wonderful, and it’s not much like the movie at all. There are a few pieces of the book that relate to Mowgli, but it’s not the bulk of it. There’s also a section about Riki Tikki Tavi (whom I have always loved, since I was a little kid) and about an elephant handler. The animated Disney movie has long been one of my older daughter’s favorites, and I think we’ve watched it at least eleven million times. The music is my favorite part.
- Jurassic Park (book/movie) – I guess this isn’t really a kids’ movie or a kids’ book, but I used to show it and read it with my ninth graders when I taught high school science. I think an older kid who is watching Harry Potter’s later movies would probably also be okay with this one. The premise is amazing – a rich and crazy man buys technology to recreate dinosaurs from DNA preserved in mosquitos in fossilized tree sap. His creatures live on an island where he has built an amusement park around them. Chaos ensues. This is one of my all-time favorite books and the movie is just as good.
I hope you’ll give some of these book and movie pairings a try.
I started to type that Harry Potter is my current favorite from this section of the list, but I’m not so sure that’s true. There are so many wonderful stories here that I couldn’t choose just one favorite.
Tell me, what is your favorite book and movie pairing?
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