Books provide an endless source of inspiration for film makers. Almost since the making of movies began, producers and directors have been looking to works of fiction to bring to life on the silver screen. Young adult literature, and even children’s picture books, have been made into big budget movies with varying degrees of success. Sometimes the film accurately captures the message the author was trying to tell, while at other times the resulting movie resembles the book in very little except characters and title.
Listed below are the Top 7 Best Film Adaptations of Young Adult Fiction. Do you agree or feel like your favorite movie based on a book is missing?
“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – The film version of this book, set in the 1930s, stars Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford and Robert Duvall in his film debut.
“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne – Told from the perspective of nine-year-old Bruno, this is the story of one family and their experiences living near a concentration camp during WWII.
“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman – The film inspired by this fantasy/comedy/adventure book has achieved listings on several of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) best films lists.
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott – Although there are numerous movies based on this classic book about a family of girls living in Connecticut, it’s the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale and Susan Sarandon that truly captures Alcott’s story.
“Old Yeller” by Frank Gipson – Who can forget the Disney film version of this story of a boy and his dog? The original story first appeared in print 1956 and is equally as moving as the film version.
“Cheaper By the Dozen” by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey – Actually a memoir of their experiences growing up with parents who were efficiency experts, the film adaptation is not the the film of the same name starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt.
“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton – Published when the author was only 18, the story of two rival gangs is still popular with young readers today. The movie version starred Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell and other popular teen stars of the 1980s.
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‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
Published in 1960 this Pulitzer winner written by Harper Lee, is told from the perspective of Scout (Jean Louise) Finch, aged 6 at the beginning of the book. She lives with her older brother Jem and her father Atticus. Aside from portraying life in the mid-1930s in Macon, Georgia, it deals with issues of race, social class and compassion for those different from oneself.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ film
Starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Mary Badham as Scout and Phillip Alford as Jem, it captures the mood, humanity and charm of the book entirely. Directed by Robert Mulligan, it was released in theaters in 1962.
‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’
This book is sub-headed as a fable on the title page for good reason. Fables often tell of unbelievable events in order to teach a moral lesson. The characters of this book, especially Bruno, are perfectly created to instruct the reader in the events that took place in Nazi Germany.
‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ film
Although both the book and film have been criticized by some as trivializing the Holocaust, they fail to realize that the author meant the story to be one of a fable. Just as in Aesop’s Fables, animals spoke and had human characteristics in order to teach a moral lesson, this film has a fairy tale quality to it that makes it even more powerful.
‘The Princess Bride’
Buttercup, Wesley, Inigo Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts are just a few of the characters that make this Renaissance-era story interesting and enjoyable. It offers the best of adventure, fantasy and true love in a way children of all ages can enjoy.
‘The Princess Bride’ film
Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and a host of other character actors, this movie released in 1987 has become something of a cult classic. Fans can recite the lines and especially enjoy the Duel Scene on the Cliffs of Insanity.
This classic work of literature was first published in two volumes by the author in 1868 and 1869. The story of the March family; Marmee, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, has been a favorite of readers since that time. It continues to be discovered by new readers every day.
‘Little Women’ film
Susan Sarandon as Marmee. Winona Ryder as Jo and Christian Bale as Laurie are what make this film adaptation of Alcott’s classic a success. Along with the other actors and actresses in this film, each character is almost perfectly portrayed as they are in the novel.
Nothing quite moves a reader like a story of a boy and his dog. Set on the western frontier in the 1860s, Travis reluctantly adopts a stray dog while his father is away on a cattle drive. Through a series of events, Travis comes to love the dog and must make a grown-up decision regarding Old Yeller’s life.
‘Old Yeller’ film
A Disney film released in 1957, Tommy Kirk accurately portrays Travis’ disgust and annoyance with Yeller when he first show up on the family’s homestead. As Travis Coates learns to love and appreciate the dog, so does the audience. The film also stars Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire and Kevin Corcoran as the the rest of the Coates family.
‘Cheaper by the Dozen’
Written by a brother and sister that grew up in a house with a total of twelve children with efficiency and motion expert parents, this book provides an insider’s look into the world of the early 1920s. Always looking at a way to make the household run smoother and quicker, Father is a character one can’t help but love.
‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ film
Starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as the parents of twelve children, the film captures the craziness that must have been always present in the Gilbreth home in 1920s. With Father always trying to find a more efficient way of getting things done and Mother always trying to reign in his more outrageous ideas, the film is a funny one to watch with children.
The story of Ponyboy, Soda Pop, Darry, Dally and the other Greasers rumbling with Socs in 1965 is still read and loved by teens today. It explores teen angst along with social classes and friendship in a true coming-of-age book.
‘The Outsiders’ film
With C. Thomas Howell starring as Ponyboy, Rob Lowe as Soda Pop and Patrick Swayze as Darry, the Curtis brothers were the heart-throbs and heroes of an entire generation. Along with Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise and Diane Lane, the film remains a classic story of teens learning to navigate in an adult world.