Raising Summer Readers Tip #15: Pair books with movies to add some fun into summer reading!

One of the best ways to motivate and enrich summer reading is to connect books to summer activities and experiences. Linking books to movies can be particularly exciting for kids and can lead to some great discussion with critical analysis. Kids will benefit most if parents/adults help to facilitate  comparisons and evaluations as well as share their own ideas as co-participants in the “book vs. movie” discussion. Here is a list of possible questions to consider:

  • Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie? Why?
  • Think about the setting of the book. Did the setting in the movie look like you had imagined it. If not, how was it different?
  • Did the characters in the movie match what you imagined from the book? How was the main character the same? How was he/she different than what you had imagined? We’ve especially had fun drawing or painting the characters and/or settings of books we’ve read, then comparing our artwork as we visualized it from the book with the characters and settings in the movie.
  • Were there any different characters in the book versus in the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie would leave out or add a character?
  • What parts were in the book but were not in the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie decided to leave out these parts?
  • Were there any parts of the movie that were not in the original book? Why do you think they were added to the movie? Did you like that these were added? Why or why not?
  • Were there parts of the movie that you were glad differed from the book? Were there parts of the movie that you didn’t like because they differed from the book?
  • Did the movie end the same way as the book? Which ending did you like better? Why?
  • Do you think the producer should continue the story in another movie (a sequel)? Why/why not? What do you think would happen in a sequel?
  • What was your favorite part of the book? When you were reading that part of the book, did you imagine it would look like it did in the movie? Was your favorite part of the book also your favorite part of the movie? Why/why not?
  • Were you happy with or disappointed by the movie’s interpretation of the book? Why or why not?

There are many ways to implement a book versus movie analysis in your home. Here are five items to consider:

  1. This is a great project for kids of all ages, preschool through high school (and even adults!), because so many books have been made into movies with such varying demands on reading, thinking, and emotional/developmental maturity.  Choose among many picture book titles and even more chapter book titles. Check out my book vs. movie starter list for some good book/movie pairs.
  2. A book versus movie analysis can be informal and oral or more formal with charts or murals to document comparisons. Venn diagrams (see photo) are also a great tool to help kids analyze (and see visually) the similarities and differences between the book and the movie.   This can be drawn on paper by hand, on 2 paper plates that are glued together, or even done with hula hips and index cards.

    "Book vs Movie" Venn diagram -- parents or kids write in similarities and differences as they are discussed.

    “Book vs Movie” Venn diagram — parents or kids write in similarities and differences as they are discussed.

  3. This activity can be done as a single event, or you can conduct a “book vs. movie study” that is ongoing, with many pairs analyzed over a summer or longer period of time.
  4. This is a great family reading activity and also a super fun way to do a book club (“book vs. movie clubs” are more enticing for many kids).
  5. Titles can be read aloud or independently — depending on the needs and structure of the group.

It is usually best to read the book first, then watch the movie, which provides kids with motivation and momentum to read/get through the book. This order also allows kids to use their own imagination and visualization skills without the input of the images from the screen (which also allows for more interesting analyses during discussion, e.g., it is difficult to consider whether the characters in the movie looked the way they were imagined from reading book when the movie was watched first).

In Our Family… In this past we’ve done an author study in the summer (I’ll post about how to do a home-based author study at some point), but this summer the kids wanted to switch it up with something “more fun”, so we decided to try out a book vs. movie study after we finish our current chapter book read-aloud (Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool –it’s great!). We are aiming for at least 3 pairs of comparisons for the summer, and then we’ll decide whether we want to continue it on into the school year. I want to include all three kids, so we will start by selecting shorter/simpler chapter books and picture books that everyone can enjoy. Here’s our book vs. movie basket, which we filled with book-movie pairs that we already have at home. We decided to start with the picture book Shrek by William Steig and then watch the film! 

Our "Book vs. Movie" box

Our “Book vs. Movie” box

If this is something that you think might be fun for your kids, consider doing it this summer, when there is likely more time to choose your own book titles and watch corresponding films!

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