Familiar characters are making the leap from page to screen this year, including those from Harry Potter, The Little Prince, Tarzan and more. These movie adaptations of kids’ books in 2016 are likely to be big box office draws for families. If you or your kids like to read ’em before you see ’em, here’s a list to help you get ready for the coming year.
1. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson (in theaters Feb. 19)
Gilly Hopkins is one tough cookie — she beats up boys and terrorizes her teachers and foster parents. But she meets her match in Mrs. Trotter, whose strongest weapon is unconditional love.
2. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (in theaters March 18)
This classic fable about a pilot who encounters a planet-hopping prince in the Sahara Desert is a lyrical meditation on love and friendship.
3. The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling (in theaters April 15)
Rudyard Kipling’s book of short stories The Jungle Book is far less whimsical (and musical) than Disney’s classic animated film, and it includes stories with central characters other than Mowgli, the “mancub” raised by wolves and befriended by Baloo the bear. These wonderful stories, which alternate with lyrical poems about the characters, depict a complex and sometimes dangerous natural world in which creatures must respect the “ways of the jungle” in order to coexist.
4. The BFG, by Roald Dahl (in theaters July 1)
A popular choice for beginning chapter book readers, The BFG is a fun fantasy about a Big Friendly Giant (BFG) who prowls British streets, blowing dreams into children’s minds. After he plucks young Sophie out of her orphanage, she hatches a plan for him to stop the not-friendly giants who eat children. Steven Spielberg is directing the movie.
5. Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (in theaters Oct. 7)
This irreverent story of middle school life centers on Rafe, a boy who becomes the target of a bully. He develops a strong friendship with Leo, whose drawings enliven the pages and add to the appeal for reluctant readers.
6. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling (in theaters Nov. 18)
Rowling’s short book (adapted as Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them) purports to be a Hogwarts textbook that describes various beasts and dragons but doesn’t tell a story. For the film, Rowling wrote an original story about Scamander’s adventures in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter first arrived at Hogwarts.