They’ve read the book. Is it really a good idea to watch the movie, too? Absolutely! In fifth grade, analyzing how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning of a text is a key skill under the Common Core Standards. After your child has read a book and seen the movie, practice this skill by talking about how the two compare. For example, ask: Did you like the book or the movie better? Why? How are they different? If you were writing a book review and a movie review, what would you mention?
5th grade books so great, they made a movie
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by: Lewis Carroll - (Macmillan, 1865) 192 pages.
Curious Alice takes a tumble down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a topsy-turvy world of strange creatures, perplexing riddles, and madcap adventures. Most kids are familiar with Alice’s journey and her run-ins with characters like the elusive White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the malevolent Queen of Hearts. But there’s no substitute for experiencing the silly rhymes and absurd illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s original work firsthand. More hesitant readers may benefit from reading the tongue twisters aloud together.
Want to see the movie? Tweens may appreciate the manic 2010 version starring Johnny Depp as the Hatter.
Perfect for: Kids who delight in the silly.
Find Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at your local library.
Anne of Green Gables
by: L. M. Montgomery - (L.C. Page & Co., 1908) 198 pages.
The hook: Anne Shirley is a spirited 11-year-old orphan who can’t believe her luck when she’s sent from the orphanage to live with a pair of unmarried siblings on Prince Edward Island. Her hopes for a real home are dashed when her new guardians, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, tell her that the orphanage has made a mistake — they wanted a boy to help them run the family farm. But gregarious, red-haired Anne wins friends on the island, even if her big imagination and unusual upbringing leads her to make mistakes, like wearing wildflowers in her hair to church and adding liniment to a cake instead of vanilla. Kids will connect with this sweetly old-fashioned coming-of-age tale and its numerous sequels.
Want to see the movie? Check out the acclaimed 1985 CBC miniseries, which closely follows the plot of the book.
Perfect for: Kids with big imaginations.
Babe the Gallant Pig
by: Dick King-Smith, illustrated by: Mary Rayner - (Yearling, 1995)
When Fly the sheepdog adopts the piglet Babe and raises him with her puppies, the polite, gentle pig naturally assumes he’s a sheepdog, too. Farmer Hoggett intends to fatten Babe up and eat him for dinner, but his plans change when Babe saves the flock from sheep rustlers and wild dogs. Babe’s sweet and genuine spirit is infectious and the quaint details of country life are compelling, especially for city kids.
Want to see the movie? The 1995 adaptation, Babe, has something to offer all ages.
Perfect for: Kids who like Charlotte’s Web.
Find Babe the Gallant Pig at your local library.
Freak the Mighty
by: Rodman Philbrick - (Blue Sky Press, 1993) 192 pages.
Max, who struggles with a learning disability, is big compared to other kids his age — though he’s not as big as his violent, convict father, who is in prison for killing Max’s mother. Brilliant, tiny Kevin suffers from a crippling disease that causes him to wear leg braces and keeps his body from growing. The two eighth grade outcasts form a powerfully symbiotic friendship, each drawing on the other’s strengths as they face bullies and more serious dangers together. This poignant, often funny book deals with intense subject matter and packs strong messages about friendship, bravery, and accepting those who are different.
Want to see the movie? Check out The Mighty (1998), starring Sharon Stone and Kieran Culkin as Kevin.
Perfect for: Kids who have ever felt different or left out.
Find Freak the Mighty at your local library.
by: Lois Lowry - (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
The award-winning book The Giver is actually the first of a quartet of books set in the same place and basic time. Set in a world so different, so intriguing, so shocking, the series explores a society with no pain or war. But this has been achieved at the cost of individuality, feelings, and memories — only one person has memories and knowledge of the past. That person alone understands pain, pleasure, beauty, and color. Chosen as the new holder of memories, 12-year-old Jonas gradually sees the costs of this utopia. The books are loosely linked with the third and fourth reintroducing characters from books one and two. It’s a wonderful book (and series) for older kids on the cusp of grappling with the big issues such as conformity, risk, and courage.
Want to see the movie? The 2014 film mostly sticks to the book’s plot but ages Jonas from a tween to a teen.
Perfect for: Kids who like dystopian world stories, suspense, rebels with a cause.
Find The Giver at your local library.
by: Louis Sachar - (Yearling, 2000) 233 pages.
After Stanley Yelnats is falsely convicted of stealing, he’s sent to a Texas juvenile detention center for boys where he’s forced to dig ditches all day. Will he unearth buried treasure? Absurd but believable tale of crime, punishment, compassion, and friendship. Action filled and humorous, with several depressing and violent sections.
Want to see the movie? The book’s author wrote the gritty, sophisticated 2003 film.
Perfect for: Kids who like gritty adventure stories.
Find Holes at your local library.
by: Carl Hiaasen - (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) 292 pages.
Roy is the new kid at Trace Middle School in Coconut Grove, Florida, and his days consist mostly of trying not to get his face smashed into the school bus window by the local bully. But things start looking up when Roy encounters a mysterious barefoot eco-activist kid named Mullet Fingers, who is intent on stopping the construction of a pancake restaurant in order to save a colony of burrowing owls. Middle schoolers will appreciate the offbeat humor and compelling mystery plot of this Newbery Honor winner.
Want to see the movie? The 2006 comedy focuses on the friendship between the kid protagonists as they fight middle school and corporate bullying.
Perfect for: Budding environmentalists and mystery lovers.
Find Hoot at your local library.
Howl’s Moving Castle
by: Diana Wynne Jones - (Greenwillow Books, 2008) 448 pages.
Sophie accidentally offends the wicked Witch of the Waste, who retaliates by transforming the girl into an old crone. To break the spell, Sophie needs the help of the Wizard Howl and his fire demon Calcifer, who live in a bizarre, constantly moving castle. Witty and complex, with engaging characters and a magically satisfying conclusion.
Want to see the movie? Check out the mesmerizing animated 2005 film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Perfect for: Kids who have vivid imaginations.
Find Howl’s Moving Castle at your local library.
by: Frank Cottrell Boyce - (HarperCollins, 2004) 272 pages.
When a sack full of cash practically falls at fourth grader Damien’s feet, he and his brother Anthony have very different ideas about what to do with their windfall. But with only 17 days to spend the money before England’s currency changes to the Euro and the money becomes worthless, a spending frenzy ensues with unexpected consequences for the boys, their town, and the robbers who are trying to recover their missing stash. Damien’s earnest voice brings up interesting questions about right and wrong for kids to consider, though some kids will need a little help understanding the British expressions.
Want to see the movie? Check out the fun 2005 adaptation directed by Danny Boyle.
Perfect for: Any kid who’s wondered what it would be like to win the lottery.
Find Millions at your local library.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
by: Robert C. O’Brien, illustrated by: Zena Bernstein - (Atheneum, 1971) 240 pages.
A tractor is coming to destroy her home, but Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse, can’t move her sick son Timothy by herself. In desperation, she turns to a strange group of rats for help and uncovers an elaborate secret that affects all of their futures. This Newberry Medal winner’s suspenseful plot and realistic drawings will appeal to kids’ sense of drama.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1982 adaptation, The Secret of NIMH, though sensitive viewers might find it a little too creepy.
Perfect for: Kids who like the idea of smart, organized, caring animals.
Find Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH at your local library.
My Side of the Mountain
by: Jean Craighead George - (E.P. Dutton, 1959) 192 pages.
The hook: Teenager Sam Gribley is tired of living in a cramped apartment in New York City, so he takes off for the Catskills. Sam’s level head and wilderness knowledge serve him well in the mountains, and it helps that his parents approve his adventure. As Sam prepares to survive the winter inside a cozy hollow tree, word starts to spread about the wild boy living on his own. The highlight of the book, which includes lots of small vivid details about living off the land, is how Sam bonds with — and trains — a Peregrine falcon named Frightful.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1969 film, which changes some of the details of the book but stays true to its spirit.
Perfect for: Kids who appreciate nature’s quiet beauty and seek alone time.
by: Fred Gipson - (Harper & Bros., 1956) 144 pages.
When his father goes on a cattle drive, Travis is left to look after his mother and younger brother on their Texas ranch. A dirty yellow dog shows up and wins over the family by proving himself a good protector. But when Old Yeller has a savage encounter with a rabid wolf, Travis has to make some tough, adult decisions.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1957 classic Disney film.
Perfect for: Kids who like heart-wrenching animal stories.
Find Old Yeller at your local library.
The Princess Diaries
by: Meg Cabot - (Harper Avon, 2000) 256 pages.
The hook: No one is more surprised than Mia Thermopolis when her father announces that he is the heir to the throne of the tiny European country Genovia. Suddenly, the shy, awkward high school freshman has to worry about princess lessons with her imposing grandmother in addition to passing algebra and catching the eye of a cute senior boy. Tweens who gravitate to light and funny fiction will enjoy following Mia’s account of her transformation into a princess in this book and its sequels.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2001 film and its 2004 sequel starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.
Perfect for: Kids who dream of suddenly becoming royalty.
The Secret Garden
by: Frances Hodgson Burnett - (J.B. Lippincott Company, 1911) 288 pages.
Mary is an orphan who is angry at the world when she arrives at a forsaken mansion on the British moors. As she slowly discovers the secrets of the mansion, including an invalid cousin, an abandoned garden, and a family’s sad history, she begins to hesitantly open her heart. She shows her cousin the garden and his ecstatic encounter with nature is as healing for him as it has been for Mary. The young people flourish along with the garden, as the lonely mansion becomes a loving home.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 1993 adaptation featuring Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock.
Perfect for: Kids who like classic stories.
Find The Secret Garden at your local library.
by: David Almond - (Random House, 1998) 182 pages.
Is the creature dying in Michael’s garage a man, a bird, an angel or all three? And what is his connection to Michael’s baby sister, who’s in the hospital with a heart problem? This gorgeously weird novel holds readers entranced in a spell woven of moonlight, owls and poetry. Among the many pleasures of this atmospheric and stunningly beautiful novel are the characters of Michael, a deeply empathetic boy, and Mina, who studies birds and William Blake (and who should be the poster child for home schooling) — and the tender and touching relationship Michael and Mina develop in caring for Skellig and worrying about his baby sister.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2009 made-for-TV adaptation, Skellig: The Owl Man.
Perfect for: Kids who like science fiction and fantasy.
Find Skellig at your local library.
Where the Red Fern Grows
by: Wilson Rawls - (Laurel Leaf, 1997) 304 pages.
It’s the Depression and money is tight in the Ozarks, but Billy finally saves enough to buy two coon hound puppies. Billy raises Old Dan and Little Ann to be great hunters and the three take first prize in a hunting contest. But when his dogs tree a mountain lion, Billy faces painful lessons about loss and growing up. Although kids may not relate to the harsh realities of rural life in the 1930s, they’ll connect with the raw, deeply emotional details in this coming-of-age classic.
Want to see the movie? Check out the classic adaptation from 1974.
Perfect for: Kids who love universal coming-of-age stories.
Find Where the Red Fern Grows at your local library.
The Water Horse
by: Dick King-Smith, illustrated by: David Parkins - (Crown Publishers, 1998) 118 pages.
The hook: Here is another sweet animal tale from the author of Babe. Aside from the Water Horse eating a swan, there is little to be concerned about here. Families who read this book could discuss the Loch Ness Monster. Do you think it could be real? Why or why not? How might a story like this have gotten started? Your children might be interested in doing a little research and seeing the supposed photos of the monster.
Want to see the movie? The 2007 adaptation, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, is loosely based on the book, but adds in a WWII plot line to lengthen the story.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find The Water Horse at your local library.