You know you have students hooked on a book when they complain because the movie isn't as good as the book. You know they "get it" when you hear someone responds with "the movie is never as good as the book!"

One of my goals as a teacher is to instill a love of reading in kids/teens while I can. Studies show that kids don't read for pleasure. I want to hook them on reading.

So I use books-made-into-movies as a hook.

For ESL classes, I used to show the movie, read the book, then watch the movie again. Students gained depth of understanding with the multiple modalities and the repeated exposure to the material.

In my 7th grade class, students read the book, watch the movie, and learn how to compare the two using t-charts, double bubble thinking maps, etc. They become more critical of movies when they already know the book.

In my reading improvement class, I use the movies as bribes. If 80% of the class passes the Reading Counts! test, they get to watch the movie. A movie day is a powerful motivator to read, pay attention, reread and review, take, and retake a test when necessary. They learn it sometimes takes more than one reading to "get it." Most importantly, they learn that they aren't the only ones who need more time and practice to pass.

Two years ago, Coraline by Neil Gaiman was popular with kids at my school so I was excited by the prospect of a new book/movie tie-in appropriate for pre-teens and teens, one which doesn't patronize my students. Omigod! There is no way I'll be showing that movie to my class!

Each year we have a parent protest because I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan is on the literature circle reading list. The movie is nothing like the book. There is no way we'd regard the movie appropriate for 12- and 13- year olds.

Probably the most effective book/movie tie-in has been The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. On its own, the movie is good. In comparison to the book, students find it lacking. Their favorite scenes aren't in the movie; characters they wanted to see aren't there (Sandy).

Children who have watched the movie before find it a different experience when they're with peers who are going to be critical of the movie. It's just a different experience from watching it at home alone. Neither compares, though, to reading the book with friends.

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Tags: books, movies, novels, reading


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