Family Movies News

Are Movies Magical Enough to Motivate Kids to Read?


Tara McNamara, editor of, 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
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