For book lovers, it’s nothing new to read a good book and seek out the movie rendition, but for students, many seek out movies or TV shows and then might pick up a book to continue the adventure. Fluent readers can essentially picture a movie playing in their heads as they read a book, but for less proficient readers, reading is choppy and seen as text on a page. Coupling a movie with its book version is a way to close the gap and make reading more rewardable for everyone.
As a high school English teacher, when I struggle to get students to read, I slip in a movie trailer whenever I can! Giving students that visual summary of a book sometimes coaxes them into putting effort or getting interest into reading the novel for class. It also triggers their brain to assign a celebrity with a certain character, making it easier to picture the events in the book.
I remember in my high school days watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at home and then when we read the book in my Lit to Film class at school, I had an easier and more fun experience mentally picturing which scene I was at, or which characters were involved. Plus, the book had many additional details sprinkled throughout, which made me later grab a book before seeing the movie.
That’s what this month’s theme is all about—introducing amazing literature to secondary students with the promise of a movie rendition as a reward at the end. It ties two types of media together and allows students to compare and contrast every part of our English curriculum. We can focus on characterization, text/movie structures, themes, writing narratives, literary interpretation, and vocabulary.
Throughout August as teachers around the country prepare their classrooms, their first lessons, and gather up the mental strength for the long haul of a new school year, let’s explore engaging texts that turn into award-winning movies or TV shows through titles such as crowd favorites like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, nonfiction relevant cases like Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and classics such as The Perks of Being a Wallflowerby Stephen Chbosky. Whether your students love reading or not, we’ll help you find something to coax good books and movies into their hands!
Download this lesson on The Perks of Being a Wallflower to walk your students through an activity on text structure and narration!
Jennifer Dryden is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a part of the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for queer youth any way she can, including running her school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). She has a passion for reading and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her eighth year teaching. Dryden graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.