Read It Then Watch It

by Cassandra Barthuly 
Are you looking for wholesome family movies, ones that are educational at the same time? There are quite a few books that children love that have been turned into award-winning movies. For visual learners, sometimes a movie can bring the book to life. Knowing a family movie night is the reward may also be just the incentive for your kids to finish a challenging book. Take a look at some of our family favorites!
Little Women (1994)
There are many film adaptations of this classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, including one with Audrey Hepburn. The one that my family has enjoyed is the 1994 version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. Set in the Civil War and based on the lives of four sisters in New England, each scene is constructed to show their close family relationship and the values instilled by Marmee (mother). This vastly popular book-turned-movie follows each girl—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—showing their different characters and how their lives ended up. Each girl is encouraged to pursue her dreams.
Anne of Green Gables (1986)
This classic imaginative novel by L.M. Montgomery was adapted into film, set in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Starring Megan Follows, this first in a trilogy of movies follows the adventures of a redheaded orphan girl who is desperate for love and care. Both the movie and the book show Anne’s many mishaps as her friendships and character blossom. Finding her place in a tightknit country community is difficult, but as she does so, Anne learns about ambition, forgiveness, and the wasted time of holding grudges.
My Side of the Mountain (2004)
The classic tale by Jean Craighead George is translated into film and relates an enthralling survival story about a New York City boy who runs away, back to his family property. Sick of the city, Sam Gribley heads to the Catskills, and manages to carve a life for himself out of the woods. His self-reliance and determination, friendship with a special bird, as well as the valuable information given about edible plants and survival strategies, are intriguing for all ages.
Sign of the Beaver (2006)
Based on a book by Elizabeth George Speare, this story centers on a young pioneer boy named Matt. Left alone in the wilderness when his father returns back East to fetch his mother and sister, Matt must take care of the homestead and crops for the winter. He befriends an Indian boy, who helps him survive in return for reading lessons. Matt’s determination is put to the test, however, when his family does not return as scheduled. The Indians are leaving, and Attean invites Matt to come with them. Matt’s decision has to come from the love of his family, even though he’s not sure if he’ll ever see them again.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
This classic survival story, based on the extremely popular book, shows in detail the ingenuity of the Robinson family and how they survived a shipwreck and their subsequent abandonment. On a wild island, where they believed they were alone, their family dynamic and work ethic is truly inspiring. It shows the challenges of working together as a family in a hostile, uncivilized location, as well as how ordinary items can be used in amazing ways.
Try these great family movies to help your children connect to a book. Even though movies always deviate from the original, well-loved story, sometimes they can help bring the concepts and time period to life. Enjoy!

So, what about you? What’s your favorite book turned movie?


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