Reading a book from which a movie is made is almost always a richer experience than simply watching the movie. The experience of savoring the words on the page and allowing yourself to be taken on a journey inspired by the author is sublime. As the author paints a picture with words, your imagination fills in the blanks until the voices of the characters and the images of the settings resonate in your mind.
After reading and thoroughly enjoying a well-written book, watching the movie adaptation can be an interesting experience. The voices and images from your imagination are contrasted by those created by the actors, the director, and the cinematographer. It's not that the experience of watching a movie adaptation is necessarily bad - it's simply different. It presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to your children the difference between words on a page and images on a screen - and to have a great family experience in the process.
Almost without fail, your children will agree that while they enjoyed the movie, the experience created by their own imagination is better. Demonstrating to your child that their imagination is more powerful than a hollywood blockbuster is a very liberating and supportive exercise. Believe it or not, going through this process of reading a great book and then seeing the movie actually reinforces your child's love of reading as well as the use of their imagination!
Between now and the end of the year, there are two opportunities to read a great book and then to see the movie adaptation. The movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (PG-13), was released in theaters on November 18, while the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (PG) is set for release on December 9.
As a family, take the opportunity to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire before watching the movie. Discuss which scenes you think will make it into the movie and which they may have to cut. Have family members choose favorite characters, and act out some scenes from the book. These types of activities build excitement and set the stage for seeing the movie together as a family. If you want to go all out, dress in costume to see the movie. Afterwards, discuss how the movie differed from the book, and, more importantly, how it differed from the scenes created in family members' imaginations.
You can follow the same process by reading The Chronicles of Narnia prior to seeing the movie. Younger children may enjoy hearing the classic tale of Chicken Little prior to seeing the Disney movie of the same name. Discuss the moral of the story, and, after watching the movie, talk about how the storyline in the movie demonstrated the principles of the classic.