Getting kids to read… by watching movies
According to a report in the Daily Mail, research shows that blockbuster movies such as The Hunger Games and Twilight are helping a resurgance in teenagers’ reading, with the young adult fiction market boasting an 11 per cent increase in sales since 2011.
Anything that can get our kids reading is a good thing, so watching a movie and then checking out the book should be encouraged, and not just for teens. My son and his friends – who are only eight – have often chosen books to read based on movies they have seen such as Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, Horrid Henry and the Harry Potter series. Who cares if they have seen the movie first – often, they enjoy reading the book so much that they then read the rest in a series, or try other books by the same author. Even a tenuous link between book and movie can encourage interest – after loving the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, my son started reading Charlie Higson’s young Bond novel Silverfin, which is far weightier a novel than I’d expect him to choose. (It’s a terrific book, by the way).
Of course, if you click on the ‘adaptations’ category over at Movies4Kids, you’ll find a host of movies that have been based on novels. Girls will love Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books and movies (A Little Princess, The Secret Garden) whereas boys may be tempted to read Mark Twain after seeing The Adventures Of Huck Finn. And as well as classic novels that have been adapted into movies – from Anne Of Green Gables to Black Beauty and The Chronicles Of Narnia to, of course, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings – there are modern novels that have been adapted for the screen that kids will love too – be it I Am Number Four, Alex Rider: Storm Breaker, Anita And Me, How To Train Your Dragon, Holes, Beautiful Creatures, The Golden Compass (based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy), Beastly, Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (only one movie made but there are 13 books!) or The Death And Life Of Charlie St Cloud.
The next instalment of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in cinemas from 21st November, but in the meantime here are some other movies opening soon that are based on kids’ or young adult novels your children may want to try…
The second movie to be based on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians series of novels, starring Logan Lerman. Percy is the modern day human son of Poseidon, suffering from ADHD and dyslexia, who is trained with other demigods and has to fulfill various prophecies when he isn’t fighting mythical bad guys. Books for ages 9+
The first movie to be based on a series of six young adult fantasy novels by Cassandra Clare in which teen Clarissa discovers her mother has protected her from knowing there is a magical world around her complete with demons, Shadowhunters (demon fighters) and monks with magical powers. Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower star in the movie adaptation. Books for ages 12+
Voted one of the best 100 books for teens by the American Library Association, Ender’s Game isn’t actually aimed at young adults but the sci-fi novel has become popular with younger readers because the protagonist, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin is a teen himself who is sent to train at Battle School, a space station orbiting earth. One for older readers, while the movie is also likely to be more adult in nature. It stars Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Hugo star Asa Butterfield as Ender. Books for age 14+
GP Taylor (best known for bestseller Shadowmancer) has written three Mariah Mundi novels – the stories of a teenage boy named Mariah who has adventures that have been compared to Indiana Jones meets CS Lewis. Aneurin Barnard stars as Mariah alongside Michael Sheen, Sam Neill and Ioan Gruffudd in the movie adaptation of the thriller. Books for age 12+