Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thoughtful Borrowing or Total Rip-Offs?

Though films have been mining literature for the big screen for decades, I can’t quite figure out which kids’ book was similarly tapped first. Fairy tales and folklore seem prominent but were these stories, back-in-the-day, really written for children?
What got me thinking about this was the banner fall 2009, with three movies derived from children’s stories. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox are all based on classic picture books from the 60s and 70s. Whatever you may think of their renderings there is no denying the impact of kids lit on the movie industry.
Can you guess which of the following films are based on children’s books?
Night at the Museum
Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Mrs. Doubtfire
Freaky Friday
Toy Story
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Chicken Run
Tuck Everlasting
City of Ember
It might prove to be a great reading strategy (especially for struggling readers) to have students analyze both a movie and the book it was based on. Discussions about the differences and similarities between the two mediums could prove to be provocative, promote critical thinking skills and deepen understanding of the nature of storytelling.
As well, using films to teach about literature and literary conventions is well supported in two books:
Reading in the reel world: teaching documentaries and other nonfiction texts (791.4307 GORE 2006 )
Reading in the dark: using film as a tool in the English classroom (791.4307 GOR 2001)
Oh, and if you figured out that Toy Story and Chicken Run are NOT based on children’s books – good on ya!


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