The Book Was Better Than the Movie

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

Movie adaptations of beloved books can be polarizing. Here's a list of children's books that have been adapted into movies--whether we like the movie better or not!

  • Paddington

    2007 by Bond, Michael

    I love this wonderful, short-chapter, family read-aloud with charming illustrations. The movie's main story is not from the book. However, it serves the movie well to act as a cohesive plotline, as the books are more a series of loosely linked adventures. Start with the original book and then enjoy the movie spinoffs! Suggested by Laura.

    Get this item
  • How to Train Your Dragon

    2004 by Cowell, Cressida

    I love both the book and the movie version so much that it’s hard to choose between them! What I love most about the book is the mismatch between who the hero, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, is (a sensitive, thoughtful, smart and compassionate kid) and who he’s supposed to be (the mighty, courageous, brawny, unthinking son of the Viking chief). There’s a similar amount of over-the-top humor and silliness in the book and the movie, but it’s good to let kids know that they’re pretty different. Suggested by Shelley.

    Get this item
  • The Willoughbys

    2008 by Lowry, Lois

    I actually really love the film adaptation of this darkly hilarious novel. It's well written, and the cast is stellar, but ultimately it lacks a little of the magic of Lowry’s brilliant writing. A truly excellent movie, but the book was still better. Suggested by Caitlin.

    Get this item
  • The Tale of Despereaux

    2003 by DiCamillo, Kate

    This beautifully written, Newbery Award-winning adventure is a perfect family read-aloud with some humorous and emotional life lessons sprinkled throughout. The action-packed film adaptation is beautifully animated, making use of the light and dark imagery, but it does lack the great storytelling and beautiful writing of DiCamillo’s book and glosses over or changes things to be more cinematic and visual. Suggested by Mandy.

    Get this item
  • The Bad Guys

    2017 by Blabey, Aaron

    Meet Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha–-a team of bad guys who decide to walk on the right side of the law. The movie, like the books, can be enjoyed as a family experience. What I like better about the books is that they offer details we can savor and that allow us to get to know the characters better. Suggested by Laura.

    Get this item
  • Holes

    2015 by Sachar, Louis

    I think Holes is a really good movie. The acting is excellent and it goes a bit further than the book in terms of casting diverse actors into the roles (before it became more popular to do that, which I really appreciate). The book, however, is a whole other level of greatness. Suggested by Shelley.

    Get this item
  • The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again

    2012 by Tolkien, J. R. R.

    Dragons? Giant spiders?? A sword with a name??? YES!! For me, though visually stunning, the newer movies are not a hit. They’re too long, and I think they don’t capture the whimsical aspects of the story that make it fun for kids. Suggested by Caitlin .

    Get this item
  • Tuck Everlasting

    2015 by Babbitt, Natalie

    When lonely 10-year-old Winnie meets the magical and mysterious Tuck family in the woods, she runs off with them, uncovering their amazing secret. Readers will find themselves asking lots of the same deep questions as Winnie does along the way. The 2002 movie lacks some of the depth and charm of the novel or the simpler, earlier film, which stays much truer to the book. Suggested by Mandy.

    Get this item
  • Little Women

    2014 by Alcott, Louisa May

    Loosely based on the author’s life growing up with three sisters in Massachusetts during the Civil War, Little Women is a classic that remains relevant and treasured today. One of the best things about the story? Each sister is quite different despite their close group friendship, which allows every reader the opportunity to identify with one or more. Suggested by Laura.

    Get this item
  • A Wrinkle in Time

    1962 by L'Engle, Madeleine

    The movie is interesting and has a great cast, but it’s hard to capture the heart of the characters in the midst of the sci-fi/fantasy romp that is the movie. I loved this book so hard when I was a kid, I read it over and over again. Suggested by Shelley.

    Get this item
  • Starring the Boss Baby as Himself!

    2010 by Frazee, Marla

    This book is a loving wink at new caregivers, a sly take on the way babies run the show. The movie takes the bones of the book and turns it into something completely new. It may be a case where the movie is just not for grown-ups (every kid I know is a fan!), but I love this book too much for the movie to be a hit for me. Suggested by Caitlin.

    Get this item
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

    1978 by Barrett, Judi

    This inventive, fun, and oh-so-appetizing picture book introduces readers to the unique town of Chewandswallow, where residents gladly accept food from the sky. But we all know how dangerous the weather can get, especially when it involves oversized entrees! I’m sure there are fans of the movie out there, but please look for this creative book and its two sequels if you want an imaginative storytelling experience. Suggested by Mandy.

    Get this item