Comparing the Book to the Movie

Watching a movie after reading the book is a wonderful way to encourage students to think critically about how each medium presented roughly the same information.

Here are some questions to ask:
  • Think about the setting of the book. Did the setting in the movie look like you had imagined it (Good ones for this are Harry Potter, Holes, Narnia, and Where the Wild Things Are)? If not, how was it different?
  • Think about the main character. How was he/she different than you had imagined? How was he/she the same?
  • Were there any changes in characters between the book and 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 left those parts out?
  • Were there any parts that were in the movie that were not in the book? Why do you think the people that made the movie added those parts?
  • Do you think the people who made the movie did a good job of portraying the book? Why or why not?
  • Which did you enjoy more, the book or the movie? Why?

You could also:
  • Brainstorm all the ways the movie was different from the book.
  • Make a Venn Diagram using one circle for the book and one for the movie.
  • Discuss a book that has not been made into a movie - what are the challenges? What would you need to leave out? Who would you cast for each character?
  • For fun (and fluency), list all the books that you can think of that have been made into movies.
Fun Fact: Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hated the 1971 movie version of his book so much that he refused to allow the studio to make a sequel. His widow (Dahl died in 1990) allowed Warner Bros. to make the 2005 version. She not only loved the movie, but was sure that her late husband would have, too.

What has your experience been reading a book and then watching the movie?


Anonymous said...

There are so many things wrong with this post that I don't know where to begin. This is such a slap in the face to cinema and you should be teaching your students how to appreciate film, adaptation and forward thinking rather than tearing apart movies and books by comparing them in this way. Shame on you.

Rachel Lynette said...

Ummm, well, gosh. To be honest, I don't understand your comment at all. From my viewpoint, the questions are not in any way attacking film. Comparing a film to the book it is based on is a great way to help students think critically.

Michelle Bythrow said...

Dear "Anonymous," If you are going to complain, could you please provide a good way to compare and contrast literature to movies? I would appreciate the help since I'm on this site to find out how other teachers are teaching on this subject. Thank you, Michelle Bythrow

Kathy said...

Thanks. This is great. Our set writing task this term is to compare film and book so this will really help. Anonymous is clearly not a teacher!

Hannah Letica said...

this is a great source as i am writing for our school newsletter and this really helped me to compare HP 7 the book to its movie. thankyou

Anonymous said...

Comparing a book with its movie is a great way to appreciate literature. It's like not being contented in eating a sumptuous meal. You are curious to know the ingredients and how it is cooked.

Ms. Stringfellow said...

I am interested in knowing more about your reference to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am a teacher and recently took a graduate class on children's literature and film and wrote a paper comparing the book and both films. Roald Dahl actually wrote the screenplay for the 1971 David Wolper film. I would love to read about Dahl's reaction to the film. That is not something that I have read before.

By the way, here is a link to my work on several literature to film adaptions.

Anonymous said...

A great title for comparing setting between book & movie is Lynne Reid Banks INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD. my kids were livid leaving that movie and commented that the director/producer obviously had never read the book! Great ideas here.

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