What are the advantages of children's stories being adapted into films, stageplays and other mediums?I would also like to know some disadvantages of book's being adapted to media.  I am...

What are the advantages of children's stories being adapted into films, stageplays and other mediums?

I would also like to know some disadvantages of book's being adapted to media.  I am interested in if children are losing the innocense of childhood by being exposed to dramatic action, violence and sex through adaptations of good children's literature.  Thank you.

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From an English teacher's point of view, I immediately think of one good reason for and against adapting children's literature into other mediums such as plays and movies.  First, let me say that anything that gets kids to read, I am supportive of it...including the Captain Underpants series.  Having said that, it brings me to the biggest disadvantage of producing alternates to the actual books:  If the child can watch it on TV, on stage, or in the movie theatre instead of reading it, most kids today will opt for that.  It is instant gratification and doesn't take as much time as the actual reading.  So, they get the story, but they don't get the discipline, the language, the sentence structure, and the overall benefits that reading brings.  Research proves that the more you read, the better you write (hence the exposure to more words and the correct sentence structure on the page), and the smarter you are in general. 

On the other hand, seeing the story on film might inspire kids to actually read the book.  Or, the movie/play could be used as an incentive to get kids to read first then go see the film, etc. as a reward.  It is always good to compare the two afterward, since kids will almost always see that the film can never be as good as the book.   Take, for example, the Harry Potter stories.  The films are excellent in terms of special effects, etc., however, you can not effectively mash 300-500 pages of material into a 2-hour film.  Something pivotal will be left out, rearranged, or otherwise destroyed or altered.  The book allows time for readers to consider what they would do in the character's shoes, and it allows for the character's thoughts and motives to be played out in a way the stage and screen are lacking.  In addition, seeing the film/play through a director's eyes does take away from the imagination side of it.  I can't tell you how many times I have been disappointed that the main character on film looks completely different than how I pictured him or her.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

EXCELLENT answer, Amy. I can't really add much to the thorough response from the previous post. I certainly agree that any possible manner that convinces kids to read is a positive step. It is also true that by viewing the text in a visual medium, children may forego actually reading the story (this is also true of teens and college students as well). I think the issue of violence is one that needs to be addressed by the director or producer of the visual medium; if it's too violent, can it really be deemed suitable as a children's book? I think it would be particularly beneficial to younger children to watch a stage adaptation, since most kids have less access to this form than TV, movies or videos.

Wiggin42 | Student

The dramatization of children's literature has both negative and positive consequences. One of the major benefits is that it exposes children to books they may not have otherwise read. However, it can also create the "I'll just watch the movie" attitude. And of course "purists" will complain that the movie did not do the book justice. 

hatsuemiyazaki | Student

This is a very insightful response.    Thank you. 

Just to add to your answer:

'...seeing the story on film might inspire kids to actually read the book.' (Lepore, 2010)

I agree with this statement.  Sadly, I never read Lord of the Rings trilogy before I watched the films.  I was utterly amazed and fascinated which lead me to read the book.   I'm glad I read the book after because if it was the other order, I would have been dissappointed with the films.  Reading a book fills your head with so many imaginations and expectations that a film that is interpretative can never fulfill everybody's needs.

The view of adaptation is that it is both a product and a process.  The products of adaptation have been subject to unfavourable comparisons with their sources, often on the grounds of fidelity.  Adapting 'Harry Potter' (etc) into two hour movies necessitated cutting, and thus losing characters, scenes and whole worlds.  To view this purely negatively misses the creativity involved in the process of tranformation, the rendition of thoughts and feelings narrated into scenes, speech and gesture - an exapnsion of modes.  The adaptation can be evaluated on its own merits, not just as an imitation.  This may well be a necessity, as the adaption may be the only version known to many, or may be the version that spurs exploration of others.