With the current hype about The Hunger Games movie, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the best movies made from books. As such, I’ve compiled this list of my Top 10 movie adaptations from children’s books. I’ve used very unspecific criteria such as entertainment factor, quality of story-telling, and overall translation from the printed page to the big screen.
Here are my Top 10 movie adaptations from children’s books:
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939 film) based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
This is a standout as far as I’m concerned, though Hollywood’s translation of the flying monkeys terrified me as a child.
2. The Harry Potter movies based on the books by J. K Rowling.
Unlike others, I cannot separate or rank the movies. The casting for the Harry Potter movies remain their greatest strength; I can no longer re-read a Harry Potter book without seeing Daniel Radcliff roaming the halls of Hogwarts.
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 film) based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
The original movie captures the essence of Dahl’s work, however, no-one can deny the brilliance of Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 film) based on the book of the same name by Harper Lee.
I debated whether to include this in the Top 10 children’s list. However, as so many secondary students study Mockingbird as a text and Scout and Jem are children, I believe this adaptation belongs on this list.
5. The Jungle Book (1967 animated film) based on the 1894 book by Rudyard Kipling.
This animation may not be as true to the book as many would like, but Disney films have a way of making great stories accessible to children and that is the genius of the Jungle Book. And who doesn’t love “The Bare Necessities”?
6. Charlotte’s Web (1973 animated film) based on the book by E.B. White.
Whilst I really enjoyed the 2006 film, the original adaptation remains my favourite.
7. Mary Poppins (1964 film) based on the the book series of the same name by P. L. Travers.
Disney knows how to make children’s movies and how to adapt a book to the big screen. This film remains a firm favourite in my house and is trans-generational in its appeal.
8. Bambi (1942 animated film) based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten.
A beautiful animation, with one of the saddest cinematic scenes ever.
9. Oliver Twist (1948 film) based on the novel by Charles Dickens.
The original and the best, with Sir Alec Guinness as Fagin. Classic Dickens, classic movie making.
10. James and the Giant Peach (1996 film) based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl.
Tim Burton’s film-making genius shines in this excellent adaptation.
With nods to: Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and, of course, The Hunger Games.