A list of favorite children's books made into movies -- perfect for family movie nights, classroom activities and read aloud sessions!
I've often used (and recommended) the technique of pairing books with a movie or activity (have you seen our 20 STEM Activities Inspired by Kids Movies yet?)
It's a great incentive to get kids to pick up a book and also (once they've seen the movie) have a fun discussion about which they enjoyed more.
There are SO many kids movies that are based on books (more than 100 of them!)
We've narrowed down the list to our top 25 movies based on picture books & chapter books and these book/movie combos are perfect for kids & adults to watch together!
25 Best Children's Books Made Into Movies
I'm sure you've heard that the book is always better than the movie -- and in most cases, I would agree.
- the movie is actually more entertaining than the book,
- other times the movie is nothing like the book
- and worse yet, there are times when the book and movie are both duds :(
Let me share a few examples --
My daughter adores the Percy Jackson book series (a fictional Greek mythology series which is very popular with many kids & tweens). She'll be the first to tell you 'read the book but DON'T see the movie' -- she hated the film The Lightning Thief and so did many of her friends. In fact, I think the disappoinment in the movie was pretty universal as the studios don't seem to have any plans to make another.
I was equally disappointed with the remake of Mr. Popper's Penguins :(
On the flip side - Shrek -- we LOVED the movie!
Both of my kids thought it was hilarious and definitely wanted to see the second film too. However, the book was a dud in our eyes. It was not very engaging (and yes, we read it before seeing the movie).
And the third example, books that are NOTHING like the movie.
Have you read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?
It's one of my favorite picture books for kids; I loved it as a kid and both of my kids really enjoyed reading it too. Now the movie (which just came our last year and starrred Steve Carrell) was cute and funny but really nothing like the book at all.
For this list, we feature both kids books AND movies that are highly recommended!
You'll find both the book & movie pairings below along with affiliate links for your convenience since a few of the books have different movie titles and some may not be widely known.
No matter what order you decide -- read the book then see the movie or view the film and follow it with the book -- I'm sure you'll find some great titles for family movie nights!
Kids Picture Books Made into Movies
Chris Van Allsburg has a few picture books that have been made into awesome movies. One of our favorite space adventure is Zathura which is a picture book enjoyed by both younger & older kids. And Zathura (movie) is a fast-paced trip through space that shows the importance of sibling connectedness.
Watch the FREE Trailer: Zathura (movie is currently free on Amazon Prime)
Watch the FREE Trailer: Tangled!
I'll bet this is a surprise for many reading our list -- yes, Night at the Museum (the movie) is in fact based on a series of kids books, The Night at the Museum (book)! The book is a short 32-page read (very fun to do as a read aloud with the mystery & humor included) and the movies include lots of historical references so also educational for kids ;)
Watch the FREE Trailer: Night at the Museum
Another wonderful book by Chris Van Allsburg -- The Polar Express (book) was made into one of the most popular holiday films Polar Express (movie) for kids of this generation. If you're able to see the movie in 3D during the holidays, it's well worth it!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Polar Express
This was one of those movies remakes that I held my breathe on as I saw it advertised -- because I love the Curious George books! But rest assured, the film is great! I would suggest reading The Complete Adventures of Curious George since the movie Curious George includes scenes from more than one of the books.
Watch the FREE Trailer: Curious George
I know this is a stretch as a picture book but even though it's extremely long, it is considered one -- and an amazing read for older kids & tweens! The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the book that inspired the award-winning movie, Hugo - both are visually AMAZING!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Hugo
Are you a book lover? Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks
Kids Chapter Books made into Movies: Animated Films
We've split this list into two areas -- chapter books made into animated films and chapter books with non-animated titles.
A long time favorite for generations, Charlotte's Web (books) has been made into both animated & non-animated films. Our favorite version of the movie is Charlotte's Web (2006). And if you haven't read the book before, there is a sad part to the story so this might be one of the first times you'll see younger kids cry (during a story or movie).
Watch the FREE Trailer: Charlotte's Web
I'm sure many of you have read a picture book version of Peter Pan to your kids; however, the original story of Peter Pan is actually a chapter book (all the picture books are either based on this one or a adaption from one of the movie versions). We think that Disney's animated version of Peter PanPeter Pan is a top pick for younger kids.
Watch the FREE Trailer: Peter Pan
How to Train Your Dragon (book) is a fantastic series of chapter books that are perfect for kids ages 7 - 12 years. The film, How to Train Your Dragon is, in my eyes, even better than the books (and I rarely say that :) and very much enjoyed by kids & adults alike!
Watch the FREE Trailer:
Winnie-the-Pooh (book) has short chapters and shares the endearing relationship of a boy and his bear. I actually think the book makes the characters feel younger than they are portrayed in the movie, Winnie The Pooh but otherwise, we loved them both!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Winnie to Pooh
This is probably the one exception on our list -- the short (60 page) book The Iron Man was published in 1968. It shares the story of a metal man who visits earth, befriends a boy, eats farm equipment and then defends the world from a space monster. The movie The Iron Giant shares some of these overlaps but does have it's own story line. Both are memorable and lead to some interesting discussions with kids because of the historic setting & details shared in each. Highly recommended!
Watch the FREE Trailer: The Iron Giant
Another instance where the movie title was changed slightly from the book. Arthur and the Minimoys (which is a book series) was the basis for the film series Arthur & The Invisibles. Both are great adventures tales about a boy named Arthur who comes across an (almost) invisible world of mini people!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Arthur & The Invisibles
Or better yet, read the book before seeing the *NEW* Mary Poppins in theaters December 2018!
This is both an animated & non-animated movie (as is our next pick) ...
This is the newest pairing on our list about A Bear Called Paddington(which is the book) that sets off on an adventure and meets a family. The movie Paddington was released this year and uses computer animation to create some of the characters & scenes.
Watch the FREE Trailer: Paddington
Chapter Books Made into Non-Animated/Real-life Movies
While Johnny Depp is a great actor, we prefer the pairing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the original movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (classic family film!) rather than the newer version. Whichever you choose, both are a fun read & watch!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Watch the FREE Trailer: The Wizard of Oz (movie is currently FREE on Amazon Prime until 10/1/18)
I'm not sure I really need to say anything about this book & movie set -- other than both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (book) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (movie) are a series of 7 books/movies -- which means you might have your reading list all set with this one :)
Watch the FREE Trailer: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from The Chronicles of Narnia series) is actually book 2 in the series. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe stays true to the story as do the next two movies in the film series.
Watch the FREE Trailer: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A fun read about magic and making friends, Matilda (book) was nicely remade into a movie (Matilda) by the same name. Although Matilda's parents aren't very nice to her, she finds some wonderful adults who become her new family.
Watch the FREE Trailer: Matlida
If you grew up in the 80's, I'm sure you recognize this one! But did you read the book? The Neverending Story introduces kids to an imaginative world that was loved by their parents. And The NeverEnding Story (movie) may look a little dated but is still one amazing tale!
Watch the FREE Trailer: The NeverEnding Story
I'm just gonna tell you this up front -- Bridge to Terabithia has a really sad part to it but that's what makes it such an extraordinary story. Lots of discussion will come from this and it's best read when kids are at a "coming of age" time (probably around 10 or 11 years old). And the movie Bridge To Terabithia brings the book to life in a stunning way!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Bridge to Terabithia
Watch the FREE Trailer: Inkheart
Ella Enchanted (book) is the perfect 'fairy tale-like' story for older kids. The movie Ella Enchanted is actually a musical with a supurb soundtrack and enjoyed by kids of all ages (and their parents too)!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Ella Enchanted
Who wouldn't want a pet sea lion, right?! The book Nim's Island includes a cool map, short chapters and is a quick read! My only dissapointment is that they have changed the book cover to look like the movie cover (the original artwork was much better if you can find an older version). And the movie Nim's Island is all about being brave, trusting others and having a great imagination! Both also have a part 2!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Nim's Island
Kids who love animals will enjoy Hoot which is an environmental novel about burrowing owls. We really enjoyed both the book & the film (I actually wish they would make more of Hiaason's books into movies!) The movie Hoot (movie)is a fun tween film for kids who are inspired to save the world!
Watch the FREE Trailer: Hoot
Kids Book to Movie Discussion Guide
Grab a copy of the FREE Kids Books made into Movies discussion guide too!
The guide can be used with ANY book-to-movie combination.
It's a great way to inspire kids to read the book first and also practice critical analysis, summarizing and discussion skills with their favorite films!