If your kids are like mine I'm willing to bet money they love movies. Kids seem to have a natural draw towards movies and TV shows. I believe there is nothing wrong with using that natural attraction to your advantage and motivate them to read! Let's be honest, some kids need the extra motivation to read a book. Even though my kids do enjoy reading, they often have trouble starting new books or a new series. During those times, I look for extra motivation to get them to dig into these new titles. The best motivation I’ve found so far is promising to watch the movie when we finish the book.
With a literature-rich curriculum, you are sure to be reading dozens of books each year. Watching the film adaptation of a few of them is a great reward. We use our fifth day or Fun Friday to watch these movies along with other fun activities. You can also use the film version to reinforce your homeschool curriculum on family movie night, creating a home environment that savors great storytelling and blurs the line between study and play that many homeschoolers love to dismantle.
There are great benefits to a book and movie combo. Of course, the most obvious is comparing and contrasting the two versions. Talk about your chance to sneak in a writing assignment. Here are some questions to discuss:
How does the storyline compare?
Were the characters the same?
Are the setting, costumes, and accents as you imagined from the book?
What elements did the screenwriters add or eliminate from the story?
Why do you think did that?
Would you have done the same?
Which version did you enjoy more?
Did watching the movie give you better understanding of the character or their circumstances?
Sometimes watching and enjoying a movie first entices kids to want to read the book as well. While we don't use this particular method. This backwards method works well if there is an entire series but only the first book has been made into a film or several books have been combined for one movie. A movie can entice children into a fictional world so deeply that they are willing to overcome a reluctance to read just to hear more of the story.
Here are some of my top picks for book plus Netflix/Disney+/Hulu movie combinations. Grab the book from your bookshelf or borrow it from the library, snuggle up to read, and then gather the family for movie night!
NOTE: Some of these movies may no longer be available at Netflix. They seem to change monthly. Hopefully you can locate them on one of the other streaming platforms.
Read This - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Watch That - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 version)
Charlie wins a tour of the local chocolate factory after finding some money in the street. The factory is full of magnificent rooms including a chocolate waterfall, a candy inventing room, and a teleporter. Lots of kooky happenings and life lessons to be had from the corky Mr. Wonka.
Read This - The Little Princess
Watch That - The Little Princess
The Little Princess is about a girl sent to a boarding school while her father goes off to war. An unfortunate mistake makes the girl become a servant in the school. A wonderful imagination and some great friends helps Sara over come all odds.
Read This - Holes
Watch That - Holes
Holes tells the story of an unlucky boy who was caught stealing. He is sent to a juvenile detention camp where they dig holes day after day. The digging is more than just a punishment.
Read This - Iron Giant
Watch That - The Iron Giant
When a giant robot falls from space, a young boy is determined to keep it safe from being found and destroyed.
Read This - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Watch That - Alice Through the Looking Glass or Alice in Wonderland (1985 Sammy Davis Jr version)
When Alice falls into a rabbit hole, she finds herself in a bizarre fantasy world. There she meets soldiers made of playing cards and food that can cause you to grow or shrink. What will happen when she faces the Jabberwocky?
Read This - The Giver
Watch That - The Giver
Jonas is a boy who lives in a perfect society, or so it seems. The story begs the question, what would you be willing to give up to live in utopia?
* I will note this movie took great liberties with the story. This will be great for an older child to really see how screenwriters change story elements to try to make it grander or more exciting with more explosions..
Read This - Coraline
Watch That - Coraline
Coraline is a girl who is tempted by a secret door to a parallel world, identical to her own. She is tempted by the people in the parallel world but learns, too late, that they are not all they claim to be.
Read This - Big Friendly Giant
Watch That - The BFG
In a world where giants are huge beings that eat children, one friendly giant sticks out. The BFG attempts to protect a little girl from the rest of his brothers.
Read This - How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Watch That - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 and 2000 versions)
The Grinch hates Christmas and the Whos in the nearest town who insist on celebrating the holiday loudly. His attempt to steal Christmas backfires when he realizes he does have a heart after all.
Read This - The Secret Garden
Watch That - The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden is the story of two children both of whom have lost loved ones. They learn, find healing, and joy in a garden that was meant to be locked away forever.
Read This - The Outsiders
Watch That - The Outsiders
A group of teens from the wrong side of the tracks whom just want to be accepted. A great story of learning not to judge a book by its cover. That family can be more than just your blood relatives.
Read This - A Christmas Carol
Watch That - A Christmas Carol (many great versions depending on the age of your child)
A man whom wears blinders as he walks through the world learns to see the value in people instead of the gold in his counting house.
Read This - A Series of Unfortunate Events
Watch That - A Series of Unfortunate Events (movie and the series)
Three orphaned children through a series of tragic events learn not all is what it seems. Using inventing, cleverness and great biting the children make it through many perils.
Read This - Charlotte's Web
Watch That - Charlottes Web (cartoon)
A spider and a pig become unexpected friends. Charlotte makes it her mission to save the life of her new friend.
These are some of my favorites but, I know their are so many more. I hope you see the advantages of incentivizing reading and incorporate this fun activity to your literature lessons.
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