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- A couple of books stand out in my mind. The first would be to compare the movie of "Hatchet" to Paulsen's novel. It's very interesting to see how students identify, explain, and critique the differences between the two. When I used to teach Greek Mythology, we used to read the Greek Myths from the D'Laures Book of Greek Myths and then watch scenes from "Clash of the Titans" and it would be interesting to see how students comment. I liked watching the Kirsten Dunst acted "The Devil's Arithmetic", based off of the Yolen novel. It was a very good retelilng of the book. Finally, watching the film of "The House of Dies Drear" after reading Hamilton's novel was very powerful. It was a stellar rereading of the book. A colleague of mine enjoys reading "Lamb to the Slaughter" and then watching the Hitchock short film of it.
My son and I have done this with James and the Giant Peach. He read it in first grade, with help of course, then he saw the play and the movie. We had fun discussing the similarities and differences. I also taught Greek Mythology to my students and the longest story we read was "Hercules". So, of course, we watched the Disney version. There were so many differences that I had a contest with my students seeing who could list the most. They really enjoyed being able to point out everything that was wrong with the movie. I see you are a primary teacher and I teach middle school so the examples I gave are the ones I thought would be the most applicable to what you teach. The last one that my children enjoyed was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.I think the movie was very well done, so well in fact that my youngest child even caught much of the symbolism.
My children grew up loving Charlotte's Web and couldn't wait to see the movie, even after they were older. They were enchanted with the film and thought the movie did the story justice. Even though it is classified as children's literature, many of the themes in the story are suitable for study by students of all ages.
Another novel that is wonderful to do this activity with is Tuck Everlasting. I say wonderful because, as epollock mentioned above, the myriad levels that you can approach with this novel are vast. Young readers love the fairy tale and it's a great introduction to theme for fourth and fifth graders. The theme of order vs disorder is something very young children can grasp. Other themes such as greed and the life cycle are easy to understand also. This book is also great for cross curricular activities in math and science.
Oh my WORD! Are you ready for a long list!?! This has been my absolute literary goal in raising my daughters, lending itself perfectly to an introduction to compare and contrast. Our list is endless: Heidi, The Little Princess, Harry Potter (1 & 2), Mathilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (with both movies),Pippi Longstocking (1-4) compared to the dubbed (and best) European version, The Secret Garden, Beauty and the Beast, The Adventures of Robin Hood compared to quite a few versions there (even the animated one), The Wizard of Oz, Stuart Little, Swiss Family Robinson, Marley & Me, Shrek, Pollyanna, The Tale of the Dark Crystal, Oliver Twist as compared to Oliver!, The Miracle Worker, Babe, Charlotte's Web, Alice Through the Looking Glass compared to Alice in Wonderland, Little House on the Prairie (1-4) as compared to some of the TV episodes, Anne of Green Gables, Pinocchio, Mary Poppins, even episodes 4-6 of the Star Wars saga and the comics of Little Orphan Annie compared to the Aileen Quinn movie version.
The crazy thing is, this is just the list from off the top of my head! (I'll go ahead and tell you which one NOT to compare and contrast: Cheaper by the Dozen with the current movie with Steve Martin. I was absolutely disgusted that it bore no resemblance to the book.) I suppose the sad aspect here is that, in regards to books with no pictures, we often limit ourselves by choosing ones that also have a movie. I'll go ahead and slap my wrist for that right now. But at least we ALWAYS read the book first.
I could probably write my thesis on this subject and my daughters' reactions, but I will say that their biggest surprises came from The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In regards to the former, they were expecting silver shoes, a special pointed hat, and a kiss from the Good Witch, . . . and suddenly all Dorothy had was ruby slippers. Ha! In regards to the latter, we had the original dilemma of adoring the musical but realizing that it absolutely maimed the literary work. Depp's more current version is much closer to Dahl's original (especially in showing what happens to the kids at the end). In each case, the differences really caught their attention.
I would suggest Tom Sawyer, (and Huck Finn, if you're working with older children). There are a ton of Tom Sawyer movies out there, as well as Huck Finn, however the truest Huck movie is Universal's version with Patrick Day as Huck. I would also highly suggest The Secret Garden -- several versions of that as well. And how about Wizard of Oz? And some more modern ones: Holes and Hoot.
I have had a lot of luck with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, and The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. Generally, my students have loved Taylor's novel, and hated the movie, and it is a great deal of fun talking about all the reasons why the movie doesn't do the novel justice. They become quite agitated at times as they discuss problems with the movie! The movie version of The Outsiders, while deviating somewhat from the novel, generally fares better in student opinion and many students have described it as being a fairly good adaptation, and because they usually like the novel, they normally have some interesting and thoughtful reasons why the movie is fairly well done.
The Harry Potter series of books and movies are especially good for comparison/constrast discussions, because as each book gets longer the movies can't possibly tell the whole story. The movies are reduced to telling basically one main story from the book it represents because the books get longer and the stories more complicated to tell. This is worth pointing out to children, or hoping that the older ones will see it for themselves. It's also worth discussing whether the story told in the movie was told appropriately to the book.
Tuck Everlasting is a good book to compare/contrast because it was written as a fairy tale, but the movie aged Winnie so they could make it a teen love story. Issues to discuss could include "Does the change of genre affect the telling of the story?" or "Is Winnie's age important to the story?"
I am not sure anyone has mention Holesby by Louis Sacher, which both my children read and saw. Also, there is The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynn Reid Banks, and for very young children, The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Suess, which I have read many times but have never seen as a movie version. There are also numerous Sherlock Holmes movies out there, although they are mostly quite old.
I completely agree about the most recent version of Cheaper by the Dozen, but the original version is lovely, and that reminds me that the movie Auntie Mame is based on a book, too, by Patrick Dennis. Don't forget that Pinocchiowas a book first, too, by Carlo Collodi.
Like many others, I have compared the Harry Potter books to the films frequently. I grew up both watching the films and reading the books, and found many similarities and differences between the two. Both are great, and into my adulthood I continue to enjoy both very much.
Another recent book and movie comparison I have done is The Invention of Hugo Carbet, and its movie, Hugo. I absolutely loved the book, and even though the words were few and the pictures many, I found a great love for it. While watching the movie, I was curious to see how it would turn out. It must have been difficult to turn an almost completely picture book with hardly any words into a movie, but I enjoy it greatly.
Of course, in my opinion, the book will always be better than the movie.
Hope this helps!
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