The Best Kids' Books Turned Movies By Age Group

Updated: April 16, 2020
Here are the best books turned movies for kids by age group, and some ideas for creating a complete lesson plan or educational experience around them.
the best books turned movies for kids of all ages

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When you find yourself suddenly in a position of being a homeschooling parent, it's nice to have various ways to approach lessons, rather than the mundane table work. Holistic projects that include various modalities and span multiple subjects are great to not only extend upon, but to also peak interest, and keep learners engaged.

More: 40 Educational Shows for Kids You Can Stream Now

One of our favorite projects is to incorporate books that were turned into movies. When it comes to book-movie renditions, the list is endless. As an educator here is my list of the best books that were made into movies for homeschooling kids:

The Best Books Turned Movies for Early Elementary (Kindergarten - 3rd grade)

How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell

In the Viking village of Berk, an awkward misfit teenager named Hiccup is tossed into dragon fighting school to prove himself as a Viking. He plans a new course of action for his village after befriending an injured dragon named toothless.

This story is great because it features non-traditional gender roles among the main characters, and also shows how important it is to be open minded and compassionate. It is action packed and filled wth adventure.

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Hugo, by Brian Selznick

Hugo is an orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s. He has a job to maintain the station’s clocks. He and a friend embark on a journey to solve the mystery of his beloved automaton left to him by his father and to finally find a place he can call home. 

With a unique story line, Hugo will ignite curiosity and maybe even inspire some at home engineering. This story also touches on the importance of love and friendship. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Stuart Little, by E.B. White

Stuart is adopted by the Littles and tries to acclimate to his new family, one of which has an initially unwelcoming brother and an angry cat. Stuart overcomes these difficulties and charms his new family by showing his true personality and colors. 

Stuart Little is a fun-loving story that relays the important message of not judging a book by it’s cover, while also highlighting fun and adventure. This movie is great for sparking creativity and imaginary play. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Matilda, by Roald Dahl

A young girl named Matilda Wormwood lives with cruel parents and attends a school where the principal is a strict bully. When Matilda soon discovers she has the power of telekinesis, she begins to fight back against her parents and help defend her friends at school. 

Matilda is a great story to talk about social and emotional awareness and how the actions and words of others affect someone. It highlights the importance of kindness and friendship. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh

A determined and motivated young girl named Harriet has already found her true calling of being a spy. She carries her journal around to record all observations of her classmate’s activities. When someone finds her journal and exposes all her classmate’s private observations, she learns that all her friends are hurt and have turned against her. She seeks revenge and goes on a mission to right this wrong.

This is a story on the importance of true friendship and how important it is to own up to your mistakes and try to correct your errors. In addition to learning lessons, this movie is also great fun and will inspire any young spy to start observing their environment.  

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Best Books Turned Movies for Upper Elementary (4th-5th Grade)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney

Greg Huffly shares his thoughts, opinions, misadventures, and socially horrible experiences in his diary in hopes to prepare for each day. 
At the age when puberty is hitting and everything is unclear and uncharted territories, it is nice to have a relatable story and character to help your child feel understood. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl

James, an orphan living with his dreadful aunts, discovers a magical and larger than life peach in his backyard. He discovers friendly talking insects and together they set off to sail to New York city. 

Having a story that takes place inside a giant peach is unconventional to say the least. It highlights the importance of friendship, determination, and achieving goals. James and the Giant Peach is so unique and creative, it is sure to keep the attention of it’s listeners and viewers. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

A young girl named Coraline moves to a new house and in her discovery, quickly finds a secret door leading to an alternate reality of a family that very closely resembles her own but seems better at first. She soon realizes that the alternate family is trying to keep her there forever and must use all her courage and bravery to fight her way back to her real life. 

Coraline is such a philosophically deep animation as well as being suspenseful and adventurous. This story touches on the adage that “the grass is always greener on the other side,” or is it?  

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

Two friends create an imaginary world full of magic where they reside as king and queen. When tragedy strikes, one of their friends must pull strength from their imaginary land to overcome. 

Bridge to Terabithia is a fun tale that pulls on the fact that decision making can be challenging and how important it is to be mentally strong and trust yourself. It depicts how simple concepts such as finding your own strength takes far more practice than you would initially think. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

Four siblings are sent to a country house to be safe during WWII. The youngest, Lucy, discovers a magical wardrobe that transports her to an alternate land. She later returns with her brothers and sister and to join the magical lion and take over the evil white witch. 

Chronicles of Narnia is pure magic. Finding a wardrobe portal to another land is a childhood dream. This story is so much fun for the whole family. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

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The Best Books Turned Movies for Middle School

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

A teenage girl named Hazel is diagnosed with lung cancer. She is reluctant to go to a cancer support group but ends up being thankful for going because she meets someone she falls in love with. 

The Fault in Our Stars is such a sweet and emotional story that will have everyone invested. Touching on the difficult issues of a terminal illness is wonderful to help shape perspective and see what is truly important in life. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

This story is set in 1960s southern Mississippi. When a writer comes back from college, she sets out to interview black women who have spent their lives taking care of high affluent white families.

This story is a wonderful history lesson and brings to light relevant cultural issues of today. The Help is a great platform to use to talk to your child about these issues. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne

When an eight-year-old boy moves near a concentration camp where his father has become a commandant, the young boy wanders into his backyard and meets Shmuel on the other side of the barbed wire fence. Even though the two boys are separated by a fence, they form a wonderful forbidden friendship.

Movies that highlight friendship beyond race, color, and background show the importance of open-mindedness and the importance of focusing on love. This is a beautiful story that touches upon a hideous historical event. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Panem, the capital of what once used to be North America, monitors 12 districts where a boy and a girl are each selected as tributes to the televised event called the Hunger Games. This event requires all 24 tributes to fight to their death until there is one winner. Katniss, one of the tributes must face a great challenge of love and death.

This post-apocalyptic story is an ageless tale that is fun for the parents as well as the child. The Hunger Games is filled with action, suspense, adventure, and love. You will be completely invested in every character and will not want to put this one down. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Holes, by Lois Sachar

A young boy is sent to a malicious camp where the campers are forced to dig holes in the hot desert all day. They begin to think something menacing is going on. 

Holes is a whacky concept based on mindlessly digging holes, but it has all the aspects of a great story. This story will keep you invested to try to find out what is really going on. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

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The Best Books Turned Movies for High School

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Following a socially awkward teenage boy who watches life from the sidelines. After meeting two charismatic friends who teach him the way of love and friendship, his confidence is built. It is later rocked when they leave for college and he is faced with himself once again. 

Everyone can relate to the socially awkward boy this story follows and the friendships and love he finds is infectious. This is a great story in learning how to make peace with yourself and finding your own strength.

Buy the book here and the movie here.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

This book features a well-to-do family in Alabama during The Great Depression with two young kids and a widowed husband who is a prominent lawyer named Atticus. One of the town’s black residents is accused of rape and Atticus decides to represent him, facing threats of the community. 

To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful story on how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and do the right thing even though it may come with a multitude of hardships. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

When a family decides to sell their zoo in India, they load a freighter with their sons and the remaining animals. A tragic storm strikes leaving one of the sons Pi and tiger as the only survivors. They must learn to trust one another for either of them to ultimately survive.

Life of Pi is a unique and creative story that highlights simple, yet complex philosophies. Stories like this lead to a multitude of open-ended dialogue and thought sharing. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A story about an eccentric millionaire, Jay, told by Nick. Nick introduces Jay to a beautiful woman and gets Jay to invite them both back to his mansion. The story is about the American dream of having status, wealth and love. 

Everyone loves a story about wealth, because extreme wealth is very unfamiliar to so many of us. This exciting and over the top story will be fun for everyone. 

Buy the book here and the movie here.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

A family adopts a young girl named Liesel and discovers she cannot read. They teach her the love of the written word and discover themselves in a precarious situation of having to hide a young Jewish boy for safety. 

There is something special about a story that is told well and The Book Thief is that. There are plenty of opportunities within this story for open dialogue between you and your child. 

Buy the book here and the movie here

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How to Create a Homeschool Lesson Plan for Books Turned Movies

For young readers, read with your child and stop after crucial moments to check for understanding. 

For independent readers, have them read the book on their own or read alongside them, which will allow an opportunity to delve into a story with your child and a great way to bond. 

Once the book has been read, it is time for the movie. With younger children, it is fun to pause the movie at different parts throughout to see if they can tell you what will happen next.

Concluding the movie, here are questions that can be asked at every age group:

  • What was better, The book or movie? Why?
  • How is the movie different from the book?
  • What can a book do that a movie cannot? Why?
  • Do you think there are books that would not make good movies? Why?
  • If you were the author of a book, would you want a movie to be made?
  • Do you think the author faced any challenges of having their book turned into a movie? If so, what was it?
  • What would be a good sequel to the book?

Lastly, a fun activity is to play the soundtrack of the movie and to have them recall what parts of the movie each song was from. While the soundtrack is playing, this is a good time to create some artwork, maybe a drawing inspired by the movie or a poem. This type of holistic lessons are absolutely wonderful because they span multiple subjects all the while keeping with one main theme, meaning less work for you.

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