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25 Best Children's Books Made into Movies

A list of favorite children's books made into movies -- perfect for family movie nights!

This week we are beginning our Summer Movies for Kids series!

I know you're looking at the calendar right about now thinking "What?  Summer can't be here already!"

It always sneaks up on us too -- in fact, our kids only have 19 more days of school left until they are officially on summer break (that countdown gives me a bigger jolt that my 2nd cup of coffee on these mornings ;)

One of the resources we have on the website is a master list of kids books that have been made into movies --  more than 100 titles!

I've often used (and recommended) the technique of pairing reading with a movie during the summer -- an incentive to get kids to pick up a book and also (once they've seen the movie) have a great discussion about which they enjoyed more. 

But I know a list of 100 can get overwhelming and with limited time over the summer, you really want to offer kids books & movies that are engaging so they'll want to read more.

So we've narrowed down the list to our top 25 book/movie combos that are perfect for summertime!


best kids movies for summer

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.  But sometimes, the movie is actually more entertaining than the book, other times the movie is nothing like the book and worse yet, the book and movie are both duds.

Let me share a few examples --

My daughter adores the Percy Jackson series (which is very popular with many kids).  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 books AND movies that are highly recommended!  We're including affiliate links for your convenience as a few of the books have different movie titles and some may not be widely known.

No matter how you decide to pair them -- 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 those lazy summer afternoons!


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.



Many Disney animated films are derived from books; one of our favorites is the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel being tranformed into the amazing film 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)!



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.



This was one of those movies remakes that I held my breathe on as I saw it advertised -- because I love 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.



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!   The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the book that inspired the award-winning movie,  Hugo.



Chapter Books Made into Movies

We've split this list into two areas -- chapter books made into animated films and chapter books with non-animated titles.


Chapter Books made into Animated Films



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).



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 Pan is a top pick for younger kids.



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 :)



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!



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 the kids because of the historic details shared in each.



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.



The classic story of Mary Poppins (books) was made into one of Disney's most popular and best loved musicals,  Mary Poppins (movie).

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.


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!)



Walk the yellow brick road with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which is a nice read aloud for families followed by family movie night with  The Wizard of Oz.



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 summer reading list all set with this one :)



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.



A fun read about magic and making friends, Matilda (book) was nicely remade into a movie (Matilda) by the same name.



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!



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!



Inkheart is the first in a trilogy and a unique story about the power of books.  The movie Inkheart is probably more suited for older kids with all the twists, turns and dark themes.



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)!



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!



Kids who love animals will enjoy Hoot which is an environmental novel about burrowing owls.  The movie Hoot (movie)is a fun tween film for kids who are inspired to save the world!


Are you a book lover? Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks


Each week during our Summer Movie Series, iGame Mom and 3 Boys & a Dog will join us and offer some outstanding themed movies lists for kids!

Click on the photos below to see what other titles were featured this week:


disneymovies       summer movies for kids      family movie night

  Do you have a book/movie combo where you enjoyed both the story & the film? 

Let us know your favorites in the comments!

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Guest - jeannine on Friday, 01 May 2015 13:04

What a great idea for summer reading! My son just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We plan to go to the library today to check out the movie for family movie night.

What a great idea for summer reading! My son just finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We plan to go to the library today to check out the movie for family movie night.
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