Made into Movies: Books for High Schoolers

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.

12 Years a Slave

Author: Solomon Northrup

Rating: R

An autobiography published in 1853, about one man’s incredible story of how he became enslaved and the trials he faced before he became free. The book had tremendous impact on the abolitionist movement as it was the first account from a slave who was born free. The director wanted to tell a story about slavery that would have an impact, much like the original book had. You can learn more about the film here or read Learning Liftoff’s review.

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Last of the Mohicans

Author: James Fenimore Cooper

Included on K12’s Reading List

Rating: R

Being written in 1826 this fictional novel is considered the first American adventure. Cooper had great respect for the Native Americans, which is why he began to write about them in the first place. He aimed to demonstrate the plight of the Native American as well as show the similarities that they had with the European settlers. The film stays true to the original novel, especially in portraying the main character and how he served as a mediator between Native Americans and Europeans. You can learn more about the film here. [embedvideo id=”aMZtQhhS14w” website=”youtube”]

Gone with the Wind

Author: Margaret Mitchell Included on K12’s Reading List

Rating: PG

You can learn more about the film here.

Written in 1936 this novel became an instant classic.  Following the life of a woman in Georgia during the Civil War and the reconstruction in the South, the book portrays what it was like for many families in the South during the late 19th Century. The author conducted interviews with Civil War veterans and used her own personal acquaintances to give the book an authentic feel. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and was one of the best selling novels of its time. Equally as impressive is that the film version has also had tremendous success and holds the record for the highest Gross Sales (Adjusted). [embedvideo id=”0dTsfsr6-X8″ website=”youtube”]


Author: Alex Haley

Included on K12’s Reading List

Rating: TV-MA

After researching his family’s history for over a decade, Alex Haley published his book  in 1976. The story chronicles Haley’s ancestors’ lives over a 100-year span starting in Africa, being captured and forced into slavery in the United States, and continues their tale in the post-Civil War era. The novel won a Pulitzer prize in 1977. When it was first televised, the film drew one of the largest viewerships in television history. You can learn more about the film here. [embedvideo id=”TSJUgws9M-E” website=”youtube”]


Author: Mary Shelley

Included on K12’s Reading List

Rating: N/A

The original novel was written in 1818 and became one of the best selling novels by a female author. There were many things that influenced Shelley in her writing including the deaths of those close to her, her family, and her relationships. The story on its surface is about a scientist who creates life, but the themes and issues it addresses make the story much deeper. There have been many unique film adaptations of Frankenstein over the years, from horror, to science fiction, to comedies.  There is also a new film which is set to premiere in 2015. One major difference in the film adaptations is the lack of the monster’s point of view. In most films, the monster only grumbles or wails, however in the novel, the reader reads the monster’s point of view. [embedvideo id=”bKyiXjyVsfw” website=”youtube”]

The War of the Worlds

Author: H. G. Wells

Included on K12’s Reading List

This science fiction novel was ahead of its time when it was written in 1898. The story tells of aliens that come to earth and use humans as an energy source. Themes of exile, extinction, and fear are all addressed in the book. Wells was a known science fiction author, and he often made predictions about wars and scientific developments that actually turned out to be true. There have been many adaptations of this work, including Orson Welles re-popularizing it when he performed his infamous broadcast in 1938. The 2005 film makes some changes to the setting and other details, but retells the original story well.

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

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