Many times, a movie ruins a book. But there are certainly a few exceptions. Here are a few of our favorite kid’s movies that were inspired by books.
(This is one post in a 31 day series about read-aloud. <— Click here to see all the posts.)
Kids Books Into Movies: Our Favorites
Firstly, AnnaSophia Robb is awesome as a young girl whose mother has abandoned her.. The book is about her patched-together family of oddball friends in a small Southern town, including a quirky librarian, a blind elderly woman (whom everyone thinks is a witch). Dave Matthews makes a surprise appearance (and yes, he sings, and you will get chills – I had no idea he was so smoldering!). Jeff Daniels is adorable as her preacher father still in love with his runaway wife, doing the best he can to raise a daughter alone.
I have a simple rule in my home: you must read the book before you see the movie. I was excited about Les Miserable coming out last year, so I had Caleb read the book, which he loved. But I didn’t even know that Because of Winn-Dixie was a book when I saw the movie. This was a totally fun read-aloud, mostly because I was able to use accents for several of the characters. And what movie starring Cicely Tyson isn’t a gem?
Because of Winn-Dixie is just one of Kate DiCamillo’s books. All of them are wonderful. She is a master storyteller.
Bridge to Terabithia – who doesn’t remember this wonderful classic children’s book?
Don’t avoid the movie even if you know how it ends, because it’s so worth it. AnnaSophia Robb (again!) shines in this role as the quirky best friend.
I appreciate that the book illustrates the loneliness and isolation a child can feel. And noone can help falling in love with Zooey Deschanel as the off-beat music teacher.
Occasionally, a movie gets it SO right that it becomes a masterpiece in its own right. And so it goes with A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Both books are filled with beautiful examples of how building good character is the key to a happy life, no matter what your circumstances. I also love how they portray the power of friendship. As a girl I was enamored with Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Although these two movies had different directors, they are similar in that they’re visually stunning and beautifully acted. I especially love Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox. “Are you bloind? They’re ALL black!” is an expression you’ll hear frequently around my house.
I’m actually NOT a huge fan of Stuart Little the book. While I love E.B. White, and Trumpet of the Swan was one of my all-time favorite books as a kid, Stuart Little left me cold. The movie, however, is wonderful. (I actually like Michael J Fox as Stuart better than Stuart the book mouse.)
Who can resist Hugh Laurie as the ever-loving, perenially cheerful father who is always sporting the perfect outfit?
Roald Dahl is hands down, one of my very favorite authors. Danny, the Champion of the World is probably my 12 year old son’s favorite read-aloud. And all the Dahl books on my shelves are worn to shreds.
The movie was wonderful as well. Spiker and Sponge are terrifying, and I think the movie’s imagery beautifully reflects Dahl’s writing style. I love the hopeful message of this movie, that even children with less than favorable upbringing can make their dreams come true. Anyone can be a mother figure, even a deadly black widow spider.
While not technically a kid’s book, many a young man has been held in the grip of The Count of Monte Cristo. My oldest son is no exception. It’s been called the greatest revenge story ever told. And I have two words: James Caviezel.
While I don’t encourage revenge, I love the lesson this classic tale teaches: education is everything, and time reveals ALL.
Little Women – there are so many things to love about this book and movie. Gabriel Byrne proves that bookish, much older men with pale blue eyes and a foreign accent are oh-so-dreamy.
Nothing is better than a good marmee. And writers must write what they know.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s just a few of our family favorites.
Other kids’ books into movies honorable mentions:
Kit Kitteridge: An American Girl (with Stanley Tucci, Julia Ormond and Joan Cusack, how can you go wrong?)
Fantastic Mr. Fox – a cult classic, I have adult friends who have thrown Mr. Fox-themed costume parties. Because Wes Anderson.
The Indian in the Cupboard – hokey in places, but still really good.
The Secret of NIMH – the movie added a mystical element that wasn’t in the book, but otherwise good.
Tuck Everlasting – Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley and William Hurt make this movie.
The BFG – also a bit corny, and not nearly as good as the book, but visually stunning.
DIShonorable mentions: Has anyone ever really recovered from the monstrously botched job that was Where The Wild Things Are? Shame on you, Spike Jonze. I still regret those two hours of my life. Sendak must be rolling over in his grave. Purely awful.
What are your favorite kid’s books made into movies?