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21 books turned into kids’ movies that will inspire non-readers

21 books turned into kids’ movies that will inspire non-readers

The latest Little Women is being released at the movies in Australia on 1 Jan. It’s reminded me just how good books turned into kids’ movies are at inspiring non-readers to pick up a book. Seeing the movie first can make reading so much easier and more accessible for many kids.

You see, around here, we are quite preoccupied with getting non-readers interested in reading. Books are unbelievably great, but if your kid likes reading, you’ll know that already. If your kid doesn’t, you may at this point be wondering whether that ship has sailed. Will they ever get into reading?

21 books turned into kids' movies

Books for non-readers are hard to figure out, I’ll give you that. I know this because I have two reluctant readers of my own. How did that happen!? How did bookish, readerish, writerly me have two kids who, gulp, “hate reading”.

I just can’t accept it and nor should I. Reading is so important for kids that I’d encourage any parent of non-readers to never give up. First of all, read this wonderful article by teacher-librarian Megan Daley, author of Raising Readers and Children’s Books Daily:

How to keep older kids reading (and why it’s so important they do)


Then second of all, introduce reading by stealth. It doesn’t have to be a novel that they get stuck into. It could be a comic, a picture book, a magazine, an audio book, but particularly a movie that inspires them to keep or get reading.

Books turned into kids’ movies offer the perfect introduction to a character they want to meet up with again. Or a plot they want to learn more about. Or a confusing action-type thing that moves so fast they are desperate to learn what actually happened.

Your kid may have seen one of these movies already, or you can introduce the book and movie at the same time. Either way, these books turned into kids’ movies are all likely to inspire your child to pick up the book and keep the story alive….

Brilliant books turned into kids’ movies

Note that links to find out more are affiliate links. See how they work on Mumlyfe here.

1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Books for non readers - Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda

Suits: 12+

We love the Love, Simon movie and it was definitely an inroad to getting my daughter to lose herself in books for a while. Becky Albertalli’s books are terrific for characterisation and full of humour. The sequel, Leah On The Offbeat, is an equally good book. Find out more.

Find our review of Love, Simon here.


2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Books for non readers - The Maze Runner

Age: 11+

Action stations! If your kid thought the movie was full-on adventure, just wait for the book. Actually, the book goes a long way towards explaining what the hell is going on in the movie. All the character backgrounds and motivations are explained, so this will keep fans engrossed and looking for book 2. Find out more.

3. Matilda by Roald Dahl

Books for non readers - Matilda

Suits: 7+

The book is just as delightful as the movie. A story about a little girl who loves reading could be all the inspiration your child needs. Basically, you can’t go wrong with any of the Roald Dahl books. Find out more.

4. Paper Towns by John Green

Books for non readers - Paper Towns

Suits: 12+

The movie was a bit hit and miss for me, but I’m not the target market. Mid-older teens loved it and they will love John Green’s novel even more. Find out more.

He’s got more where that came from; two other John Green novels are movies too:

Let It Snow (movie available on Netflix)
The Fault In Our Stars

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver

Suits: 11+

A dystopian society of seeming contentedness, an old man who is the keeper of community secrets, and likable teen trying to find the truth. The movie was a little tiresome, to be honest, but the books (there are four in the series) are magic. Plenty of teens and tweens saw the film because Taylor Swift had a role, so keep their interest going by introducing them to the books. Find out more.

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (suits 12+)

7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers (suits 12+)

8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (suits 9+)

9. The Secret Garden by Francis Hogson Burnett (suits 5+)

10. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (suits 9+)

11. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabolt

The Princess Diaries

Suits: 11+

The movie role launched Anne Hathaway into the stratosphere and hopefully the books will do the same for your kids’ love of reading. Mia is quirky, gawky and the luckiest girl in the world. Part princess fantasy romance, part stand up comedy routine, these books in diary form are great entertainment. Find out more.

More books for reluctant readers


12. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

Suits: 9+

Known as Anne With An E on Neflix, this classic tale has been inspiring kids for generations. It’s impossible not to like Anne, who is chatty, creative, curious and kind. Find out more.

13. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

TerabithiaSuits: 9+

A young Zooey Deschanel is one of the stars in the 2007 movie, which makes it endlessly watchable. Well, I’d watch anything with Zooey in it. Tweenie rich city girl, poor country boy, fantasy kingdom to escape modern problems… it’s a pretty awesome tale. Note that the book is often banned from curriculum in the States for supposed atheism, swearing and witchcraft, so do be warned if you’re sensitive to those kinds of themes. Find out more.

14. Charlotte’s Webb by EB White (suits 7+)

15. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Judi Barrett (suits 5+)

16. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (suits 9+)

17. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Greg Kinnear (suits 7+)

18. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (suits 8+)

19. Holes by Louis Sacher

Holes by Louis SacherSuits: 9+

This is a well-thumbed book at our place, and one of the first ‘non-fart’ books I could entice my son to read back in the day. It’s an odd story, to be sure, but one that kids return to again and again. It’s been called a ‘masterpiece’ by many and indeed is already a modern classic. Find out more.

20. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Suits: 8+

There have been many versions of this film, but I’m betting the 2019 release will make many modern kids fall in love with the March sisters all over again. For my generation it was the Wynona Ryder / Susan Sarandon version. The latest movie will star Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan and Laura Dern. The book is always ten times better than any adaptation, regardless. Find out more.

21. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Kids movies based on books - A Wrinkle in TimeSuits: 9+

Another longer book series that promises so much delight for kids who loved the movie. Meg’s scientist father goes missing while doing secret government work on tesseracts (wrinkles in time). When Meg, Charles and Calvin go searching for him, time and space both arc to lead them on fantastical adventures. Find out more.

What are your fave kids’ movies based on books?