Media Activity: Comparing Books to their On-screen Adaptations

How many of us have said, “The book was better,” after finishing its movie version. This is the perfect time to explore how stories change when they are adapted across media platforms.

  1. Have your child choose a book with a film/movie adaptation (suggestions below) to read in print or digital format. Discuss the plan: when the book is finished, you will watch the adaptation together.
  2. Watch the book’s adaptation as a film or show together.
  3. Ask questions. Here are some ideas:
    –What did you think of the show/movie? (start broad)
    –Did you like the story? Why or why not?
    –What did they keep from the book? (You can get more specific, asking about characters, themes, settings, dialogue, ending).
    –What was changed? (ask about details). Do you agree with the changes? How did they impact the story?
    –What did you enjoy more–the book or its adaptation?
    –How would you have adapted the story?
    BONUS: Have your child compare and contrast the adaptation in an essay or present their own adaptation in a book cover, movie trailer, or diorama. You can also analyze the story over multiple adaptations (i.e. looking at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).

Book & Adaptation Suggestions
Younger kids/new readers: Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who), Madeline, The Polar Express

Lower-Elementary: The Magic Treehouse series, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, The American Girl books, How to Train Your Dragon, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Mid/Upper-Elementary: The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter (choose a book/movie), Little House on the Prairie (On the Banks of Plum Creek), Peter Pan, Pollyanna, Bridge to Terabithia, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Hobbit (cartoon adaptation), How to Eat Fried Worms, Roald Dahl books (Matilda, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The B.F.G., Witches), Holes, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Nancy Drew books, A Wrinkle in Time, The Wizard of Oz.

Middle/High school/College: Dracula, The Counte of Monte Cristo, Silence of the Lambs, Stephen King’s books (The Shining, Pet Semetary, The Green Mile, Misery, etc.), Catch Me If You Can, Forrest Gump, The Lord of the Rings series, The Hunger Games, Tuck Everlasting, The Divergent series, The Fault in Our Stars, The Notebook and other books by Nicholas Sparks, The Diary of Anne Frank.

Here’s a more comprehensive list. You could also compare comic books or graphic novels with their on-screen adaptations. Or compare traditional books with their graphic novel interpretations.

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