Children who can read chapter books independently open up a whole new world for themselves—and provide enjoyment for the whole family. I remember thinking that when my oldest son learned to read, it was equally as magical as when he learned to speak. As a family you can have extended activities that go along with reading. It can add some variety to the normal routine or inspire a child who doesn’t particularly love reading. You can create a family book club where each child reads the book, and after having a discussion about the book, everyone can watch the movie. You can also choose a fun read-aloud and as a family when you finish the book, watch the movie. Of course, the book and movie might be very different, but the discussion that comes will be enjoyable, and everyone can participate because they read the book or had the book read to them! Last year I wrote a post on movies inspired by picture books. Consider today’s post a follow-up with a list of our family’s favorite longer chapter books that have inspired movies.
By E. B. White
Fern saves the runt of a litter of pigs and cares for it as her baby. When Wilbur, the pig, gets big enough, she takes him to her uncle’s farm. It’s easy to fall in love with both Wilbur and Fern. She is easy to relate to and the reader can feel happy and sad right along with her. Wilbur has to find a way to prove to the farmer it is worth keeping him around and he finds a true friend to help him on his quest.
This cartoon classic is perfect for younger chapter-book readers. There is some sadness, but children can gain empathy for future experiences from both books and film. There is also humor throughout. The characters are lovable and it is an inspiring story of friendship children can learn from as they go through their elementary school years.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
By Kate DiCamillo
This Newbery winner begins when a kingdom famous for its marvelous soup encounters tragedy. A rat falls into the queen’s soup, causing her to have a heart attack and die. Soup and rats are then outlawed. A smaller-than-average mouse with large ears, a big heart, and incredible bravery starts his adventure to return happiness and peace to the land, save a princess, and do other heroic things brave mice usually end up doing.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
It seems that children identify with small creatures that defy the odds and are courageous in fighting for what they believe in. Despereaux is just such an inspirational character. Adults and children will enjoy this family friendly adventure.
By Louis Sachar
Yet another Newbery winner is perfectly crafted to include a mysterious curse that spans generations. Stanley Yelnats is framed for a crime he did not actually commit, but he serves the time at a camp for troubled youth. The campers dig holes to help build their character. Stanley meets a fellow camper who helps him solve the mystery of Kissin’ Kate Barlow and the real reason they spend every day digging those holes.
The film has something for everyone. It can be tricky to find a movie that everyone in the family truly enjoys, but this is it. Mystery, romance, and humor are all there and well done. There is seamless transition from present to past and back again. All the characters are well-developed and my favorite, of course, is Sam the onion seller.
THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
By C. S. Lewis
Four siblings are sent to live with their uncle. They play hide and seek one day and find a mysterious world, Narnia, on the other side of the wardrobe. The people of Narnia are under the terrible reign of an evil queen. The children go on a crusade to bring peace back to the land.
It seems every child has an inner hope to enter a magically secret world and escape the mundane regular world. The characters, costumes, scenery, and especially the music of this film bring to life the land of Narnia. It truly feels magical.
By Roald Dahl
I remember reading this in the fifth grade, and it’s a classic that continues to make my kids laugh. Dahl has created characters that readers can really relate to. He understands what school-agers find hilarious. The detail he uses really helps the reader create a picture in their mind.
There are some amazing things about technology. Creating a computer-generated Big Friendly Giant is definitely one of them. The giant really comes to life in a way that previous technology would not allow. My favorite is definitely the scene where the giant visits the queen. The magnitude of having a giant come to dinner is so fun to be a part of.