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10 Great Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Get your kids talking about books by taking them to the movies!

One of my favorite things in life- reading a great book and then discovering it's being made into a movie! I am counting down the days to Where the Crawdads Sing movie release- anyone else? And I may be a book snob, but I feel like people who go watch the movie without reading the book first don't experience the full impact of the story.

And here's the thing, kids are no different. They love when their favorite books are coming to the big screen. It allows them to relive the story and discuss it with their friends. They can have all the important discussions like, "Which is better, the book or the movie," "Did you think the actress did a good job portraying the main character," and "Did you notice they left this part out of the movie?"

So, use your child's excitement for movies and parlay it into motivation to read more books. Read a good book together and then have a movie night as a celebration. My son and I read all the Hunger Games books and then went to the movie premiers. He still talks about how much fun we had, and the Hunger Games series still ranks as his all-time favorite.

Here's a list of my 10 favorite book-to-movie adaptations and their rankings based on Amazon and IMDB (Internet Movie Database). (I'm not including Harry Potter because- Duh!)


1. The Hunger Games

The Book (2008) by Suzanne Collins: 4.5/5

The Movie (2012) Directed by Gary Ross: 7.2/10

Genre: Dystopia

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister's

place in Panem's Hunger Games. A game where two teens from each of the twelve districts fight to the death. The purpose of the games is to punish the districts for their rebellion against the Capitol, but mostly it is to entertain its wealthy citizenry.

If you're looking for high-stakes action with just a pinch of a "Which boy do I love" drama- this book/movie combo is for you.


2. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

The Book (2011) by James Patterson: 4.5/5

The Movie (2016) Directed by Steve Carr: 6/10

Genre: Humorous, Realistic Fiction

Rafe (Griffin Gluck) isn't a fan of middle school or rules, but he has a plan. He and his best friend, Leo the Silent, enact Operation R.A.F.E (Rules Aren't For Everyone). They are on a mission to break every rule in the book.

This book/movie combo will make you laugh, and then make you cry. Be ready for a surprise twist.


3. Holes

The Book (1998) by Louis Sachar: 5/5

The Movie (2003) Directed by Andrew Davis: 7/10

Genre: Adventure Fiction

Stanley Yelnats (Shia LeBeouf) is sent away to a correctional boot camp after being falsely accused of theft. The boys are forced to dig holes to build character. It doesn't take the boys long to realize the warden is looking for something and the boys are determined to dig up the truth.

This movie/book combo creatively shows how the past can affect our future. Not to mention, you're going to love seeing the cute, young Shia LeBeouf.


4. Little Women

The Book (1868) by Louisa May Alcott: 5/5

The Movie (2019) Directed by Greta Gerwig: 7.8/10

Genre: Coming-of-Age Historical Fiction

The four March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) and Marmee (their mother) are left to fend for themselves while Mr. March is away serving in the Civil War. The family faces many struggles but none too big that can't be overcome with their love for each other and neighbor.

You will fall in love with the headstrong Jo (Saoirse Ronan) as she fights for her dreams and becomes the woman she is meant to be. There are several movie adaptations of Little Women, but the 2019 version is my favorite.


5. James and the Giant Peach

The Book (1961) by Roald Dahl: 5/5

The Movie (1996) (animated) Directed by Henry Selick: 6.7/10

Genre: Children's Fantasy Fiction

James (Paul Terry), a young orphan, is forced to live with his hateful aunts, Spiker and Sponge. One day, he comes across a mysterious man who gives him magical green things. When James accidentally drops them on a peach tree, one peach and its inhabitants grow to mammoth proportions. Soon, James and his new friends are off on a surreal trip around the world flying and floating in the giant peach.

This movie/book combo is a delightful adventure you don't want to miss!


6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Book (2007) by Jeff Kinney: 5/5

The Movie (2010) Directed by Thor Freudenthal: 6.2/10

Genre: Humor Young Adult Fiction

Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) endures the hardships of middle school by chronicling his thoughts and mishaps in a journal. More than anything, Greg wants to be popular. The problem- his friend Rowley is holding him back (or so he thinks). What is a friendship worth? Greg is about to find out.

This movie/book combo is a crowd-pleaser. My students devour DWK books as soon as they're published. To date, there are 16 books in the series. Don't miss the bandwagon on this one.


7. A Dog's Purpose

The Book (2010) by W. Bruce Cameron: 5/5

The Movie (2017) Directed by Lasse Hallstrom: 7.2/10

Genre: Fiction

This story follows a dog who searches for his purpose in life as he is reincarnated four times into four very different lives. But the life he shares with Ethan (Dennis Quaid) seems to be what dogs are made for.

This book/movie combo is sure to please the animal lovers in your house.


8. How to Train Your Dragon

The Book (2003) by Cressida Cowell: 4.5/5

The Movie (2010) Directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders: 8.1/10

Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age, Fantasy

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Jay Baruchel) is the son of a Viking Chief. He must pass the initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon. How can you train a dragon without getting eaten alive?

This book/movie combo will definitely have you talking about which is better, the book(s) or the movie, and the many differences between the two?


9. The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963

The Book (1995) by Christopher Paul Curtis: 4.5/5

The Movie (2013) Directed by Kenny Leon: 6.5/10

Genre: Historical Fiction

Kenny Watson (Bryce Clyde Jenkins) loves his family even though they're known as the Weird Watsons. His older brother is causing all kinds of trouble at home and at school. When his brother goes too far, the parents decide to take him to Grandma Sands' house so she can straighten out their juvenile delinquent. On their visit, the family experiences the darker side of life when a bomb explodes inside their church killing four girls.

This book is one of my all-time favorites and it's always at the top of my recommendation list. I admit that I've never seen the movie, but I just can't have a list of children's books without this title in it. I'm going to watch it soon & if it doesn't hold a candle to the book- I'll make an edit.


10. The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Book (2009) by Jenny Han: 4.5/5

The Series (2022): 7.7/10

Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age, Romance

Belly (Lola Tung) loves her summers at Cousins beach hanging with the Fisher family- especially the Fisher brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah. But this summer is going to be different from all the ones past because this summer Belly is all grown up and pretty.

I'm excited about this book/movie combo since it's a series and I'm a verified binge-watcher. I'm one episode in and I'm a fan- but be warned: this movie is for older teens (language, drinking, drugs, sexual situations).


Here are 2 more book-to-movie adaptations I'm looking forward to watching:


Genre: Fiction

Series on Disney+

Release Date: unknown (filming began Feb. 2022)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: April 28, 2023

Start reading now & let the anticipation for the movie release date build! Happy Reading!


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