• 

Family Friendly Movie Guide

Are Movies Magical Enough to Motivate Kids to Read?

By: Tara McNamara on July 15, 2011 at 10:07AM Comments (10)

 

Tara McNamara, editor of KidsPickFlicks.com, guests on our Fandango Freshly Popped Blog with her take on movie adaptations of books.

J.K. Rowling famously insisted that if her best-selling children’s book series “Harry Potter” was to be made into movies, she would need creative control. Her high standard: stick to the written word. With some 450 million books sold, it seems Rowling was true to her audience.

The belief is that when a movie is made from a book, it inspires people to read the books. In the case of, say, Twilight, I’d agree: the film’s monster opening despite bad reviews made millions wonder what they were missing out on. In the case of Where the Wild Things Are, the film pulled a story from a 37-page picture book, millions wanted to check the source material. But in the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, so true to the novel, did movie-going kids new to Rowling’s magical world convert to Potter readers?
 
I’m asking because my 16-year old son, who reads almost anything he can get his hands on, has no interest in reading the Harry Potter books. A boxed set was purchased for him several years ago, a great gift since obviously kids love Harry Potter. However, he felt like he got enough Hogwarts wizardry by seeing the movies. He already knew what had happened and didn’t want to ruin future movies by reading ahead. Would he be more curious if the film was less true to the text?
 
On the other hand, a few of this summer’s movies are doing something different, telling stories “inspired by” a book. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer was an original screenplay based on the Judy Moody character. Mr. Popper’s Penguins only resembles the book in that it’s about a guy named Popper who gets some penguins in the mail: that’s it. And in Winnie the Pooh, opening in theaters today, the movie weaves together three of A.A. Milne’s stories, staying loyal while straying from the exact original story. For me, that makes me curious about the original material. After seeing those films, my 10-year old daughter read the original books from which they were adapted.
 
It’s a given that a fan wants to see a faithful film version of their favorite book. But, looking at it another way, do you think a book would get more readers if the movie is looser with its interpretation?
 
To see what kids think of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and other movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com.

Categories: Family Films

Comments (10)Leave a Comment

  • Jul 18th 2011 12:45PM

    Art_Fun  said...

    My son and I started out reading the books just before his bedtime.... we got addicted to it and talked during the day on what we might think will happen next. The books go way beyond the simple 'cut to the chase' that the movies need to do. There is so much fun with magic, in school, and so many complex social situations that are never addressed in the movies. My son actually grew up along side Harry in age and the ackward stage that boys go through. It really boosted my son's self esteem to experience Harry's own challenges along side of his. Add magic to that equation and it just gets fun!! I think reading them together with your children is one way to get them in to large books. Once we each read a charector aloud with voice & laughed

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 17th 2011 12:29PM

    shopping_and_movielvr  said...

    As a teacher and mom, I love the HP books. In fact, I always tell my students to read the book first before seeing the movie. With Harry Potter, it starts at a 4th grade reading level. My own daughter was much younger than that but we made it into a family time where I would read the book aloud to her. It didn't take much after that-she was hooked. She now reads voraciously and even though her taste in books are different than mine, she still loves the HP series. The third movie with the dementors that was acclaimed by Hollywood to be the best wasn't that great to me, as it didn't match the storyline-so much was lost. My viewpoint-read the book first, as you will never be disappointed.. With an excellent movie to match, it's a homerun

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 17th 2011 8:02AM

    mrfworks  said...

    I think in many ways your child is reflection of you. Until the child enter his/ her teens the parents are the biggest influence on a child life ( or should be). With that in mind whether or not the child chooses to read is ultimately chance. However the child will make his/ her decisions based on their personal experiences and influences. I force my daughter to read (nor would I if I could) but I sure as hell can appeal to her sense of personal gratification. Make it fun and interesting and stir her curiousity. Plant the seed then nuture it. And if that doesn't work a bribe now and again to grease the wheels of progress isn't a bad thing. Then again my little girl like Harry so missions accomplished for now.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 17th 2011 6:34AM

     said...

    I absolutely believe that to be true...I must be honest. My sister bought The Sorcerer's Stone when it was first published. My son was born that same year. I put the book aside knowing one day he'd read it. (I never read it myself until 2008.) Once I read it, I gave it to him and he continued reading each book of the series until he was finished the Deathly Hallows which was finished at the end of third grade. So, although it did not propel the child into reading the HP Series, it prompted the adult to promt the child! I ashamedly have NOT read anything past the third, but having fallen in love with the characters through the movies, I want to know everything about the story the movies left out...and I know there's a LOT!

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 15th 2011 6:20PM

    Cookie-Chan  said...

    It's 50/50, Harry Potter was famous way before the films were even announced. Same with The Hunger Games, Twilight and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Each generation that goes by unfortunately gets dumber and dumber because they don't read enough. I even know some kids who have never heard of Animal Farm, Farenheit 451, Catch-22, Of Mice and Men or Lord of the Flies. And if they don't know good literature like that then there is something wrong with the future picture. However when it comes to entertainment/kids/young adult books like Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh people will most likely read it because they already know about the books and the history behind them. Books are always better when you compare them to the films.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 15th 2011 3:19PM

    mman  said...

    If you really love a movie adaptation of a book you haven't read, why not read the book?

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 15th 2011 1:33PM

    stephsparkle  said...

    Generally I find that most people will only seek books from genres they already read. I think the Narnia movies inspired kids to read since it happens to be a series, likewise with Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I think these movies do inspire readers. All these books are adventure books though. Some kids might prefer The Wimpy Kid series where they can relate to the main character. I think, just like with adults, if the child does not enjoy drama/mystery/fantasty/etc. genres, they are quite likely NOT to read that book or others like it.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 15th 2011 11:59AM

    jakehbrown  said...

    It depends. If the movie turns out to be better or at least the same in enjoyablity, then it is okay. I loved The Mist and I am Legend in book form, mainly due to the endings. The movie versions change the ending for the worse in my opinion. On the other end the Dexter books do not follow the same storyline as the series, but I find them both fun. It is like I am able to get a double dose of Dexter. The point is it depends on the writing. If a screenwriter can make changes, and the changes are good, then great. Don't make changes just to make changes though.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 15th 2011 11:38AM

    Jazzyangel19  said...

    Actually if you read the Harry Potter books you get alot of information that isn't in the books. Entire scenes are cut out or combined in a way to make the movie fit into the time it has and things that where left a bit murky in the movies are cleared up much better in the books. Please anyone who likes the movies would like and understand them even better after reading the books.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment
  • Jul 17th 2011 6:41PM

    icontspelll  said...

    I agree. The books explore Hogwarts much better then any of the movies. "With some 450 million books sold," I don't think a movie will get more people interested in reading a book series. It will be the millions of people who have already read the books and seen the movies that get others to read the book series.

    Reply

    Characters Remaining: 750
    • E-mail me when someone replies to my comment

Tweets about movies