This was one of the biggest things I ever learned as a kid. I can remember two times in my life where seeing a movie opened up a whole new world of reading for me. Okay, the first time technically wasn’t a movie, it was a play. And it wasn’t a fancy play, it was a high school play. I was in second grade and we got to go over to the high school to watch their show of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Since it was during the school day, it was probably a dress rehearsal, but as a 7 year olds we didn’t realize that it was just a practice. And we wouldn’t have cared anyway. The high school was huge, the students were all big, the theater was dark, and there was magic inside. Did I grow up to be an actor after this experience? Nope. I was a super shy kid, there was no way! I did, however, grow up to be a reader. On the programs we were given was the information I needed to get started. The author’s name. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. You mean, this play is a book? I must have it. Lo and behold, it was not just ONE book, but a whole series. SEVEN books! I still have the complete set I got for Christmas when I was in elementary school, back in the days when Wardrobe was considered the first book in the series and not the second like it is renumbered now. (The Magician’s Nephew is #6 in my collection and now it has moved up to the #1 spot because it technically takes place before Wardrobe.) These books were made into a cartoon, live action television episodes in England ,and then into a series of big-time movies, too.
The second time I had worlds collide, I was probably in fourth grade and I saw a cartoon movie on television. It was called The Hobbit and was about a little fellow named Bilbo who was on an adventure. There were fantasy creatures, a magic ring, and a creepy guy who kept saying “My precious” over and over. Again, I was shocked to find out that this was based on a book. Again, I got lucky because this, too, led me into another famous series, The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. As a kid, these were difficult but worthwhile reads. When I went to college I was assigned to read The Hobbit in a literature class, which threw me back into the whole series again. When the movies came out, I read them one more time and bought up the DVDs as quickly as they came out. Now The Hobbit is being made into a full-length movie as well, and Part 1 will be in theaters in December. I’m wondering if I have time to put it back on my reading list again before then. I think I do! Check out the movie trailer here—
You know what is really cool? These two authors, Lewis and Tolkien, were friends! They were both professors at Oxford University in England. Through discussion and debate they influenced and supported each other, even when they didn’t agree with the other’s ideas.
After those experiences, I started searching out book/movie connections. I read all of the books about Oz, the original Mary Poppins books (did you even know there was more than one? It’s true!), The Wind in the Willows, and everything else I could match together. And don’t get me started on my Harry Potter obsession! Lately, I’ve been able to talk to my students about a recent book that was made into a movie. The book is called The Invention of Hugo Cabret; the movie is just called “Hugo.” They spoke very excitedly about the book and movie connection, which made me incredibly happy. Although the book appears to be very long and is very heavy, it is full of the most amazing illustrations you will want to linger over and study. Reading the book is very similar to watching a movie, and since the book itself is about movies, it’s just the coolest mash-up ever. The author/illustrator, Brian Selznick, has another book called Wonderstruck as well, again full of his hand-drawn pictures. Since they had already opened the door by mentioning both the book and the movie about Hugo, I was able to steer them on to Wonderstruck as well.
And that, that is how it starts. However you get there, it’s never to late to read the book!