Here are all of our favorite kids books made into movies. Only the very best book to movie adaptations made it onto this list! Perfect for family movie nights.
As much as we love good books at our house, we also really appreciate an excellent movie or show (especially when it's based on a favorite book). One of our favorite family activities is to read a book together and then watch the movie or show version when we finish. I'm always on the lookout for good kids books made into movies!
Reading kids books made into movies can also be a really great way to motivate a reluctant reader. Whether you watch the movie first, read the book aloud together, or just have a plan to watch the movie when your child has finished the book, it can be a fun and encouraging reward for reading time.
I especially love when our movie nights turn into great conversations about the book and the movie. Here are few questions I love to ask:
- What was different from the book in the movie?
- How was the movie different from how you imagined the story?
- Which one was better?
- What would you have done differently if you were making the movie?
Favorite Kids Books Made Into Movies
This isn't a comprehensive list of all the children's books that have ever been adapted into movies, but rather just the ones that we think were really well done. There are a lot of very terrible adaptations that deviate wildly from the original story and infuriate the books' devoted fans - we left all of those off of this list.
Below you will find over 40 wonderful kids books made into movies or shows. We've watched and read them all! Most are available to stream on Amazon or Netflix and I've included the Rating whenever it was available.
Note: the Amazon links below are Affiliate Links.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome | I'm putting this one first on the list because it's my very favorite children's book to movie adaptation. It's set during the summer of 1929 in England. Four siblings sail a dinghy named Swallow out to a small island on a lake for a summer adventure. They meet a rival boat named Amazon carrying the Blackett children, and while there is an initial rivalry between the two families, they eventually join forces.
Both the book and the movie are perfectly charming, full of all the best magic of summer and childhood!
Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary | I love the Ramona books with all my heart, so I was hesitant about a movie adaptation. This movie, however, is an absolute delight! It's not based on one specific book in the series, but includes elements from several of the Ramona books. The movie really captures the spirit of the books and Cleary's wonderful characters so well.
Hilda Series by Luke Pearson and Stephen Davies | We love Hilda so much at our house! First, it was a graphic novel series. Then it was an amazing animated Netflix series (2 seasons so far). Then they adapted the show into a really wonderful chapter book series. They are all so good! We wholeheartedly recommend Hilda to everyone!
Hilda is a brave and kind adventurer in a land filled with magical creatures like rock trolls, invisible elves, and giants. It's the best combination of folklore and magic.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick | This incredible book/graphic novel combination won the Newbery Award in 2008. It's a very moving story about a young French orphan boy who hides in the clock tower of a train station and keeps the clock running. It's partly based on the true story of the French filmmaker Georges Méliès, so it's fitting that the book was adapted into a movie by Scorcese.
The movie is a masterpiece and really brings the book to life! It's one of my all time favorites.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate | This is another Newbery Award winning kids book made into a movie. It's a very moving story told from the perspective of a silverback gorilla named Ivan who lives in a cage in a mall. The movie version is really well done!
The Witches by Roald Dahl | This creepy classic is so fun! For the kids that don't mind a little scare, this is a tale of witches that hate children and try to turn them into mice. One little boy, however, is determined to fight back.
There are two movie versions and we liked both of them (though I think I'm partial to the original with Anjelica Houston as the grand high witch). But be warned, these are actually a bit scary.
Holes by Louis Sachar | Another very deserving award winner! Stanley Yelnats is under a curse, which is how he ends up at a detention center for a crime he didn't commit. At the center, Camp Green Lake, the incarcerated boys spend all day digging holes. But the camp isn't exactly what it seems and neither are the holes. Both the book and the movie are fantastic!
Ronia the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren | Lindgren is famous for her Pippi Longstocking books, but Ronia is one of her very best characters. Ronia is the only child of Matt, the leader of a gang of robbers. But when Ronia becomes best friends with Birk, the son of the leader of a rival robber gang, a terrible quarrel between the rivals erupts and Birk and Ronia have to take a stand.
This classic book was adapted into a wonderful animated series by Studio Ghibli. Both the book and the show are a delightful escape into childhood adventures in the great outdoors.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield | I went and found this series after it was mentioned in You've Got Mail (the shoes books!). I read them aloud with my girls and they are charming. This one about three orphans, Pauline, Petrova, and Posy, raised as sisters is my favorite.
The movie, staring Emma Watson, was delightful.
The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin | I was obsessed with this book series when I was a kid. Then, just a few years ago, my kids started listening to the book series on Audible and they too fell in love with them. Turns out a group of tweens running their own babysitting club is really compelling! There's also a fun graphic novel series now too.
There's a movie version of this, which is fun (but a little outdated). However, just last year Netflix created a new series based on the original books and it is fantastic!
The Borrowers by Mary Norton | This classic book about tiny people who live under the floors and in the walls is a little strange but a lot of fun. It was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and I was so happy when my own children loved it too.
There are two movie versions, but I only like the animated Studio Ghibli production - it stays really true to the book.
101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith | You've probably watched the movie versions of this one, but have you read the book? We listened to the audio version of this book (which I highly recommend!) last year and were absolutely delighted by the original story. It's different than the movie, but really very fun.
There are two movie versions, and both are phenomenal!
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo | Flora really needs a friend as she's trying to cope with her parents' divorce, but it comes in an unexpected form. When her neighbor accidentally vacuums up a squirrel, Flora rescues the poor little guy and names him Ulysses. But when Ulysses begins to communicate in unusual ways with Flora, she realizes she's found an extraordinary friend.
From an award winning book to a really charming Disney movie. You'll love them both!
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket | We loved the books. We hated the movie. We really loved the Netflix series (maybe even just a teeny tiny bit more than the books).
This 13 book series is the unhappy tale of the unlucky Baudelaire orphans. I almost consider this required reading for childhood.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery | I'm sure this beloved book needs little introduction from me. It's a classic masterpiece and a must read book!
There have been quite a few movie/show adaptations and we watched them all, but I will always be partial to the 1985 miniseries.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit | This classic novel tells a story that will stay with you forever. Winnie Foster has led a very sheltered life. Feeling restless, she ventures beyond the fence one day and meets a family harboring a very big and dangerous secret.
The movie isn't as good as the book, but it's still well done and definitely worth watching.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit | If you haven't read this classic British children's novel, you're in for a treat (and the movie is wonderful too).
The story follows a family that has to leave their home in London after their father is falsely accused of spying and is imprisoned. They find refuge in a small home near the railway where the children befriend an old gentleman who regularly rides the train. Little do they know, he is the key to absolving their father.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart | These phenomenal books are one of our family's all time favorite series - we've read all of them aloud twice! A group of four uniquely gifted children respond to a peculiar newspaper ad and find themselves being drafted into the Mysterious Benedict Society, where they are tasked with solving a problem that threatens people everywhere.
Disney just released a brand new show based on this series and we're so excited about it! We've only watched the first two episodes so far (episodes are being released weekly on Disney Plus) but we're already big fans.
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis | This is an incredible story about Parvana, an 11 year old girl in Afghanistan. After her father is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, Parvana's family gets desperate. Without a man at home, they have no one who can legally leave the house to work or shop for food. To save her family, Parvana dresses like a boy and tries to become the breadwinner.
The animated film based on the book is wonderful. It is a little intense, however, so it may be best for at least 12 and up.
Watership Down by Richard Adams | This famous classic book is one that continues to pass the test of time. My kids loved this one just as much as I did when I was a child. The story follows a group of rabbits on an epic journey to survive and find a place to call home.
There have been quite a few movie/show adaptations of this book because of its popularity. I'm linking here to the one we enjoyed the very most (it's also the newest adaptation).
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman | I've been completely captivated by these books since they were first published 20 years ago. It's a philosophical fight between good and evil in one of the most clever and well-imagined fantasy worlds ever created.
There is a 2007 movie version of this, but what I really want to tell you about is the AMAZING new Amazon Original Series (2 seasons released so far). If you love the books you will really love seeing it all come to life in the series. I'm a little obsessed with the show.
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl | This is such a fun classic and makes a wonderful read aloud. Nobody can outfox Mr. Fox.
The movie, directed by Wes Anderson, is so quirky and wonderful. Perfect for a family movie night!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney | My kids have been obsessed with these books for over a decade now. They're a hilarious novel/comic hybrid about a boy in middle school and all his mishaps.
As a grownup, I don't really care much about the books, but I LOVED the movie. I thought it was so funny. Great for a family movie night.
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine | This spooky book series has been super popular since I was in middle school in the 90's! If your kids like a scary story, this series will hook them.
There was a tv series of this in the 90's that you can still watch on Amazon, but I think the two Goosebumps Movies they made more recently are really fun!
Coraline by Neil Gaiman | I'll warn you right now, both this book and movie are very, very creepy. That being said, they're also pretty brilliant. If you don't mind a little spine tingling, you'll love this!
Coraline discovers a door in her house that leads to a world that looks mostly like her own, but better . . . well better until the mother and father in the other world decide they don't want to let her go.
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | I'm convinced that Diana Wynne Jones is one of the all time greatest writers of children's literature. All of her books are absolute magic! In this one, young Sophie accidentally upsets the Witch of the Waste who casts a spell that turns her into an old woman. Her only hope of breaking the spell is to find Howl, an eccentric young wizard who is rather hard to track down because he lives in a moving castle.
The animated movie version is a Studio Ghibli masterpiece!
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black | This is an excellent fantasy adventure series for kids, and especially reluctant readers. After moving to a derelict old mansion, three siblings keep hearing strange noises in the walls. Their searching leads them to discover an old book that opens a parallel world. It's quite an adventure!
I actually saw the movie version first and it was so fun I picked up the books.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli | Stargirl is one of those people who dances to the beat of her own drum. At first the other kids at her new high-school appreciate her quirkiness, but it doesn't take much before they all turn on her.
This is a really sweet and inspiring story about acceptance and individuality. The new Disney movie version is beautiful! We loved the added music.
The Giver by Lois Lowry | I love this book, so I was surprised by how much I also loved the movie. Both are wonderful!
Set in a dystopian future, 12 year old Jonas lives in what seems to be a perfect world where everything goes according to plan. However, when he is given his life assignment to be a "receiver" he begins to learn things about his perfect community that will eventually threaten to destroy everything he thought he believed in.
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg | I actually saw this movie when I was a kid, long before I knew that it was inspired by a picture book. Since then I've become a big fan of all of Chris Van Allsburg clever picture books.
In this case, the original movie really did a good job of capturing the essence of the picture book and bringing it to life.
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White | In my opinion this is an absolutely perfect children's book and one that should be read to every child. It's the most beautiful story of friendship ever written. Obviously I have strong feelings about this one.
A movie could never really do this book justice, but I do think the original animated version came the closest.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne | And speaking of perfect children's books, there's really nothing better than Winnie-the-Pooh. I'm linking to the audiobook version here because it is such an absolute delight to listen to.
I love the old Disney animated versions of these stories, and I also really enjoyed the more recent movie version about Christopher Robin.
Paddington by Michael Bond | I used to love reading these sweet tales to my kids at bed time when they were all younger. What a sweet little bear.
The movie is definitely more high-energy than the books, but it was fun and my kids loved it.
Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer | This fun series is perfect for fans of mystery and Sherlock Holmes. Enola is Sherlock Holmes' younger sister and she's just as clever as her brother. The first book in the series was just made into a Netflix Original Movie and it's superb!
Note: the suggested reading level for this series is 8 to 12, but because of the subject matter (murders and such), I'd actually recommend both the books and the movie for 12 and up.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming | We recently listened to this classic on audio (read by the inimitable David Tennant) and fell completely in love. What a fun family story about a magical car and a quirky inventor.
This is definitely a case where the book is better than the movie, but you still shouldn't skip the old Disney classic - it's a fun one!
Matilda by Roald Dahl | If hard pressed, I'd probably name this as my favorite Roald Dahl book. Who wouldn't fall in love with sweet, book loving Matilda?
The movie version is definitely a family favorite at our house!
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry | This is a really sweet picture book about a father and a daughter learning how to take care of natural hair. It was recently turned into an Academy Award Winning short film! It's just 7 minutes long, so perfect for young kids.