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I once had the pleasure of accompanying several students and a few interested adults to the Drexel Hill suburb of Philadelphia and the home of the Newbery-winning author, Lloyd Alexander.  It was an encounter that I will always remember. While we were there someone asked him, “Is it better to listen to a book as it is read aloud, watch a movie based on the book, or read the book yourself?”  Without hesitation, Mr. Alexander answered that the best way to experience a book is to READ it; after all. that’s why it was written. He explained that he loves reading, since reading requires the active use of imagination.  His second preference was listening to a book that is read aloud, because listening also involves the use of imagination.  Since he perceived watching a movie to be more of a passive activity, he ranked it third.

Regardless, children’s books have been made into movies for nearly a century.  As you probably know, there has been an abundance of movies based on children’s books in the past few years. The most recent releases include  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (from the 1865 book by Lewis Carroll), Diary of a Wimpy Kid (from the books by Jeff Kinney), Fantastic Mr. Fox (from the book by Roald Dahl), Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (from the book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett), and the children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak .  The next anticipated release is Legend of the Guardians, based on the Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole.

Can you think of other children’s books that have been made into movies?  Take a look at the long list of them on Wikipedia and see if you can think of any others, and check out KidsReads for more on books-into-movies.

What are your thoughts about reading a book vs. watching the movie?

Do you watch the movie and skip reading the book? Do you read the book first, and find that you are disappointed by the movie?  Or, perhaps watching the movie enriches the book experience for you!  If you watch the movie and then read the book, do the filmmakers control what you see in your mind’s eye?

Thoughtfully tell about a  “book-into-movie” you’ve both read and seen, and compare/contrast the two experiences.