Kids Books Turned Movies
March into Literacy Month is starting to wind down, but our celebration is still in full swing! Today we reflect upon the origins of some of our most beloved children’s books and trace how they were adapted from pages to the silver screen. Whether you’re familiar with one or all of these titles, one of these fantastic tales is bound to have touched your life. If you’ve only had the chance to enjoy these stories in one medium, we encourage you to explore these adventures further by experiencing both the book and movie versions. And let us know in the comments which version you found more enjoyable!
The Hunger Games
The first of three young adult novels written by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in a post-apocalyptic version of North America. Now called Panem, the country is divided into 12 districts all reporting to a highly advanced metropolis referred to as the Capitol. The story finds Katniss set to participate in the Hunger Games, an annual event in which one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 compete for survival in a televised battle that only one of them can live through.
The Hunger Games was published in 2008 by Scholastic. It was followed by Catching Fire in 2009 andMockingjay in 2010. The film adaptation was directed by Gary Ross and features a star-studded cast including the Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Lawrence, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland. For those of you who haven’t read the book yet, get to it! The film is set for release this Friday, March 23.
Published in 1971, The Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr. Suess. It tells the story of a young boy living in a run-down, grim environment filled with pollution and dismay. Our protagonist approaches a character called the Once-ler to inquire as to how the world came to appear this way. The Once-ler explains that the world was once a beautiful, hospitable environment filled with cheer and glee.
The Once-ler, however, began to cut down all of the truffula trees in the world in an effort to create an invention he thought the world needed called Thneeds. He was warned by the Lorax about the consequences of killing all of the truffula trees, but he persisted. After cutting down the last tree, the world became completely polluted and the Lorax disappeared. At the end of the story, the Once-ler gives the young boy the last truffula tree seed and encourages him to plant it so the trees and Lorax can return, bringing the world back to its previous state.
The book was loosely adapted as a film by Universal Studios and released on March 2. The film features the voices of Hollywood stars Zac Effron, Danny DeVito and Ed Helms.
Where the Wild Things Are
Another children’s book,Where the Wild Things Are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak for publication in 1963. Spike Jonze adapted a live-action version of the book into a film that was released in 2009. The film features Catherine Keener and the voices of Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker and James Gandolfini.
Where the Wild Things Are tells the story of a young boy named Max who parades around his house in a wolf costume, playing and stirring all sorts of mischief. After getting into trouble with his mother, Max is sent to bed without any supper. His imagination begins to unfold once in bed, and Max sails away to the land of the Wild Things, where his adventure begins.
Arguably the most popular series of novels to be adapted into film over the past decade, Harry Potter includes seven novels, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and concluding withHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Each novel in the series tells the adventures of Harry Potter, a young boy who discovers his powers as a wizard at the age of 11. He becomes enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and we begin to see his adolescence unfold. After overcoming the social and emotional challenges that ensue during school years, we follow Harry developing his powers and coming face to face with a number of increasingly sinister enemies.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express is a classic Christmas story that was written and illustrated as a children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg in 1985. It tells the story of a young boy who gets invited to board a train that’s headed to the North Pole. Upon his arrival, the young boy is greeted by elves who are all waiting in the center of town for Santa to show up.
Santa then hand picks the young boy to select the first gift of Christmas. He picks a bell from one of the reindeers’ harnesses, and Santa departs to embark on his annual Christmas gift giving journey. The young boy loses the bell on his way back home, but wakes up Christmas morning to find that Santa left it for him under his tree. The book was adapted into a film in 2004. Written, produced and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film stars Tom Hanks and Josh Hutcherson.