When Reading Isn’t Fun Continued: Movie/Book Pairings

-by guest blogger Mary Ventura

Mary is a Special Ed teacher and parent of a child with Special Ed needs.  She has learned a few ways to get kids who don’t have a natural affinity for reading to love books, and we’ve asked her to share them with us.  Her advice: get them to visualize the story, with a little help (from a movie pairing, as described below, or with graphic novels).


When I work with parents who are struggling to get their kids to LIKE reading I always mention movies.  In fact, in my classroom, I never stuff things like Shakespeare into student hands without letting them know that Shakespeare didn’t write plays to be read, he wrote them to be acted– to be seen and heard by audiences.  Students, especially young kids, who struggle with wanting to read often do so for a couple of reasons: 1) they haven’t found the right book (easy enough to read and plot that is interesting to him or her) and/or 2) they aren’t seeing the story play out in their minds- a pretty important part of making meaning out of what one is reading.  And so I suggest seeing the movie before reading the book.  Of course this limits the library of choice, but it can be done.  Holes by Louis Sachar has been a popular hit with this exercise because it’s a great book and the movie was done well, but it also left out some details that make reading it after seeing the movie a special treat.

However, kids who are struggling with learning disabilities or who are just not learning how to read as quickly as it seems their peers are learning are a totally different story.  It’s not just about seeing a movie before reading a novel; it’s about endurance!  Reading is a physical task.  We can easily forget that when we tuck ourselves away in our favorite chair with a blanket and a warm drink on a blustery Winter’s day.  For someone who’s just learning how to read it takes eye muscles, it takes throat muscles and shoulder muscles.  It can really wipe a kid out!

Movie and book pairings to the rescue.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Holes by Louis Sachar

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

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2 Responses to When Reading Isn’t Fun Continued: Movie/Book Pairings

  1. msyoungacademy says:

    As a Texas teachers a large part of 4th and 7th grade curriculum includes the history of the Lone Star State. Everyone around the world knows about Texas cattle. In Fred Gipson’s book, Old Yeller, we learn about what the family endured while the dad was gone on the trail taking said cattle to markets in Ft.Worth, Wichita, Kansas City or even Chicago. I always find it refreshing that my students get upset when the bull fighting scene is not in the movie! You are right, it is those little pieces of drama that move students into deeper connection with the literature.

  2. marydventura says:

    I love it! Watching the movie before or after reading the book can be so helpful for kids to make those connections. Thanks for your comments! Old Yeller is another great pairing!

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