12 great book-to-movie adaptations for families

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Creating a homeschool lifestyle that works for our family involves a lot of things I didn’t expect at first.

For example? One of the most important things for keeping our days running smoothly is not lesson planning. It’s not even meal planning, though that would probably be wise.

The most important thing for keeping our family sane is REST.

By “rest” I do mean sleep, but I also just mean reserving some time for being unproductive on purpose.

Without rest, the kids get overwhelmed and easily distracted. Without rest, all our tempers get a little short. We end up bickering about nothing and everything. Without rest, I turn into a cranky mama-robot of doom, cycling joylessly through chores and tasks and appointments. (Just me?)

So rest is important.

Rest is also hard. I continue to be terrible at it, even with lots of practice. The best solution I’ve found is to build regular times of rest into our schedule, whether I think we’re going to need them or not. (We will. We will need them.)

We all have a daily quiet time, so our ears can rest.

The kids go to bed before I do in the evening, so my brain can rest.

And on Friday nights, the kids know to expect a Family Movie Night so we can all take a break and rest together.

After dinner on Friday nights, there are no chores, no work, and no early bedtimes. We all pile onto a too-small couch and let our imaginations wander together.

And because I am a nerdy bookish mama (with a nerdy bookish husband and some nerdy bookish offspring), we think the best movies are the ones pulled from the pages of our favorite books.

If you need to plan an evening of rest with a movie, try one of these.

Harry Potter

You knew I was going to say Harry Potter, didn’t you? You did. We watch these as we finish reading the books aloud. (So far, just books one and two.)

Winnie the Pooh

You’re never too old for Pooh, are you? I’m not, anyway. We like the older Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the newer Winnie the Pooh movie.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is long (over two hours!) but my kids dance like chimney-sweeps for days afterwards. I feel like that’s worth the time investment.

Anne of Green Gables

We like the older miniseries. If a rainy Friday comes along, the kids can talk me into a whole movie day with this.


The Big Friendly Giant is so silly, so fun, and yes, a little bit scary. (Well, not the BFG himself. He’s not scary. It’s the OTHER giants that cause all the trouble.)

James & the Giant Peach

Like all movies from Roald Dahl books, we find that James and the Giant Peach works best for school-aged kids. It’s kinda scary for the little-littles.

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

I want to live in a chocolate factory, please.


If you haven’t read this part-novel, part-graphic-novel, do! And then fire up the movie version.

Princess Bride

Though (oops!) we didn’t read the book until after watching the movie.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

The magic and wonder of Narnia, come to life.

Bridge to Terabithia

Fantasy and reality and tragedy and resilience are all wrapped up together in this one. (Did I mention the tragedy?) Do check out the book first so you know what to expect before watching the movie.

Ronja the Robber’s Daughter

This series of short animated episodes is from the book by Astrid Lindgren, who also wrote Pippi Longstocking. It’s free on Amazon Prime right now, too.

And of course we always want to read the book along with watching the movie, so this is a two-for-one education and entertainment situation!

What other book-to-movie adaptations would you recommend? And how do you get REST onto your calendar? I need your suggestions!

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Originally posted on July 20, 2017.

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About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins is a homeschooling mom of six in Southern California. She writes about being who you were made to be and letting go of the rest.


  1. Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on their Toes (black and white original versions)
    Your,s Mine and Ours with Lucille Belle (also the original)
    all three movies are based on books.

    Also musicals make great family movies
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  2. Holes!
    Caroline Rose’s latest post: Hold it loosely. Take the long view.

  3. Cynthia Herrmann says:

    We avoid lots of outside activities so that we aren’t running here and there. I let my kids sleep in later after the nights we are out.

    We don’t sign up for classes in the summer. We get together wirh friends and family and enjoy the relaxed pace. I can feel my body recover and my mind gear up for the next school year.

  4. Patricia says:

    Because of Winn Dixie (a magical book and movie) and Despareaux, both by Kate DiCamillo.

  5. Joanna Peterson says:

    Totally agree about rainy days and Anne! Our list includes:
    Austen movies (especially Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow)
    Jane Eyre
    Much Ado About Nothing, Kenneth Brannagh, (There are 2 scenes we edit out.)
    Room For One More, based on Anna Perrot Rose’s excellent book of the same name.
    David Copperfield, Dame Maggie Smith version with young Daniel Radcliffe as David
    Heidi, with Jason Robards
    The Scarlet Pimpernel, with Jane Seymour, is actually better than the book, IMHO

  6. The littge lord fauntleroy (look for the 80s version of the movie in color)
    The secret garden
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  7. I love your suggestions! Those are some of our favorites. We love Charlotte’s Web, and we are getting ready to read The Wizard of Oz for the first time, simply because it is on of my favorite movies.
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  8. Lord of the rings! Can’t wait til my kids are old enough for these. Also, I love the pictures in this post – beautiful!
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  9. Keli Henderson says:

    I just did our first read aloud and then watch the movie with my 4 year old. We read “a Bear Called Paddington” and then watched the 2014 Paddington movie. The movie was almost nothing like the book but we enjoyed both!

  10. Jennifer C. says:

    My daughter and I just listened to Wonder by RJ Pallacio on audiobook on a recent car trip. . It’s not a movie YET, but we heard it’s coming out in November. We saw the trailer, Julia Roberts is in it. We LOveD the book!!!!

  11. Love so many of these! I had no idea The Princess Bride was a book until a few years ago. It is SO good!
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  12. Matilda was one that my kids enjoyed reading and watching!

  13. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is both a delightful book and movie (although they are totally different from one another).

  14. Emelie Bartholomew says:

    We are reading Little women right now, and I can’t wait to show my kids the movie.

  15. Trumpet of the Swan
    the only problem is my kids start asking if there is a movie to every book I read now. ha ha!

  16. Nickie Miranda says:

    Late comment but couldn’t resist…
    “Beacause of Winn Dixie” – utterly heartwarming
    A Double Feature night on: “The Gruffalo” and “The Gruffalo’s Child” – The language in both movies is verbatim to the lyrical, imaginative language of the books. Great for early readers yet enticing to the family as a whole. I watched delightfully as teens basked with glee in these films. Double Feature night is easy as both films are only about 45 min.
    Additionally, I love a good musical!! Great discussion can follow as to how a playwrite might change or adapt the work of a novelist as well as how music and dance affect the expression of the message.

    Thank you for sharing your list!!

  17. Thanks for this great list! Also, The Yearling, To Kill and Mocking Bird, My Side of the Mountain
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  18. Lindsey Carroll says:

    The Swiss family Robinson book and movie (Disney has the best movie). My son loved it!

  19. Jenn Brown says:

    The Hobbit! We finished reading it last year and just ran out time to watch the movie. Thinking we will kick off out first Friday night of school by watching it!

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