Made into Movies: Books for Younger Independent Readers

We are all aware of the importance of reading, but motivating students to open a book can be difficult. In this series, Made into Movies, we’ve gathered some of the best film adaptations of favorite books to spark kids’ interest in reading. Watching the films can serve as a reward for finishing the related book, inspire children to read the book after seeing the film, or accompany a reader as they are making their way through a series.

The Best Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Ramona and Beezus

Author: Beverly Cleary

Rating: G

Included in K12’s Reading list

A film that captures the charm of the book published in 1955. Ramona and Beezus are two sisters who make their everyday life as adventurous as possible. The story follows the two sisters that have very different personalities and shows how even though they get on each others’ nerves, they are very important to one another. Cleary has been praised for her stories that connect with so many youngsters because they are inspired by Cleary’s own experience as a child.

The movie creates the same interactions and feelings that are depicted in the book, as well as what sisters may go through in real life.

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Harriet the Spy

Author: Louise Fitzhugh

Rating: PG

Included in K12’s Reading list

This is a great story for any young reader. Published in 1964, the story follows a little girl who dreams of being a spy. She practices by keeping a journal and writing about all she sees, including her friends, which lands her in trouble. The story can be a great tool to teach good morals, and can teach kids to use their talents in a productive way. While the book does draw a fair amount of controversy, it is rated #12 on the top 50 books for kids by Time Out New York Kids and is included in Children’s Classics, by the Horn Book Magazine.

The film is fun for all ages and encourages the idea of putting your talents to good use, and sticking by your friends.

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Author: Louis Sachar

Rating: PG

Included in K12’s Reading list

Published in 1998, this was one of my favorite stories as a kid. The story follows a young man who is falsely accused of a crime, and is sent to a camp for juvenile trouble makers. A mystery arises and Stanley and his new found friends find themselves in a position to follow the clues involving Stanley’s family curse. The story is a great read full of adventure and mystery, and won the National Book Foundations Young People’s Literature Award the same year it was published.

The film is a good adaptation and portrays all the favorite characters from the book.

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The Borrowers

Author: Mary Norton

Rating: PG

Included in K12’s Reading list

fantastical story about a family of miniature people living in the walls of a home published in 1952. Follow the borrowers as they try and survive in the world of the “big people,” stay hidden, and raise a family. Not only did it win a Carnegie Medal in 1952, but in 2007 it was selected as a top ten medalist for the award’s 70th anniversary.

The filmmakers do a great job of creating the illusion that little people could really be living in your walls.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: Frank Baum

Rating: PG

Included in K12’s Reading list

One of the most popular on our list, this book was published in 1900. The book was praised upon release for encouraging children to read, and made it fun with the illustrations from W.W. Denslow. The book has cemented itself as being a timeless classic.

The film and Broadway adaptations remind us to have a heart, think for yourself, be brave, and remember there’s no place like home.

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Black Beauty

Author: Anna Sewell

Rating: G

Included in K12’s Reading list

The original book was published in 1877. The author, due to personal injury, had a strong affiliation to horses that inspired her to write this book. Her novel was written in the first person from the horse’s point of view and the various owners he has throughout his life, the friends he meets and the lessons he learns. By giving the horse’s perspective Sewell actually influenced way people treated animals.  In 2004 Black Beauty was listed at #58 in BBC’s the Big Read.

Having the main character in a movie be a horse, would seem difficult but the film does a great job of following Beauty’s story.

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Let’s keep reading! Include your child’s favorite books that have been made into movies in the comments.

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