Encouraging Summer Reading – With Movies

As summer heads into full swing, most off-duty students are taking every advantage of their liberties; many can no doubt be found at the pool, in the neighbor’s yard, or at the ballpark, thoughts of books and math problems far in the distance. While I spent my fair share of sunny days in the water, I also relished the free time to soak in as many books as possible; the 15-minute chunks of time required to fill in circles for the library’s reading program flew by. Despite my natural inclination to spend long afternoons on literary adventures, I understand that – when it comes to keeping reading skills sharpened – often, some external motivation is called for.

While perhaps an outdated notion amidst today’s media saturation, I choose to believe that watching a movie can still be an exciting prospect for kids. Hence: a list of my favorite books-turned-movies.

Holes: Louis Sachar, of Sideways Stories from Wayside School fame, has written one of the few books whose movie is just as good. It’s the story of a young boy who gets sent away to Camp Green Lake – a place with nothing green or lake-like in sight. Here, young boys spend their days digging holes to “build character” – or so they’re told. Full of young characters with large, likable personalities, Holes is a story the whole family will enjoy.

Charlotte’s Web: A personal favorite, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web often conjures images of a friendly pig. But, as we know, the book’s namesake is a sweet, motherly spider who lives near Wilbur’s pen and offers advice on how to navigate farm life, including interactions with the weasely rat, Templeton. Charlotte’s Web is often reserved for young girls – perhaps because of its empathetic human protagonist, Avery – but I argue that the agrarian tales of Wilbur and the gang are a welcome respite from any child’s busy life.

Any number of books by Roald Dahl: The author of countless children’s classics, Roald Dahl is perhaps best known for his fantastical stories. Full of friendly giants, witches, children with special powers, Oompa Loompas, very large fruit and more, young readers flock to Mr. Dahl’s imaginative, engaging books. Several have been turned into highly enjoyable movies, including: The BFG, The Witches, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.

The Harry Potter series: Perfect in so many ways, one of the most practical characteristics of J.K. Rowling’s famous septet is that it matures with its readers. Beginning with its young hero, Harry Potter, just learning of his wizard-ness and the existence of a place called Hogwarts, and slowly incorporating school age conflicts, loss, and epic battles, readers will feel as though they’re growing right along with the main characters. And, of course, it’s not all heavy; full of practical (and magical!) jokes and lighthearted shenanigans, the story is ultimately one of good conquering evil, and the power of love. While the movies take some liberties, they follow the format of progressing in maturity and hold up independently from their book counterparts.

What are your favorite books-turned-movies?


One Response to “Encouraging Summer Reading – With Movies”

  1. Maritza A. BenjaminAugust 7, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    One of the best ways to keep young children focused on reading about nature and staying connected to the outdoors when school starts is to explore books that relate to their play and outdoor classroom activities and nature field trip experiences. Here are fifteen award-winning, nature books, listed by grade level, that are recommended by CNG for both educational and entertainment value.