Book Film Comparison Essays For Esl

Watching a movie after reading the book is a wonderful way to encourage students to think critically about how each medium presented roughly the same information.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Think about the setting of the book. Did the setting in the movie look like you had imagined it? (Good ones for this are the Harry Potter series, Holes, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and Where the Wild Things Are.)If not, how was it different?
  • Think about the main character. How was he/she different than you had imagined? How was he/she the same?
  • Were there any changes in characters between the book and the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie would leave out or add a character?
  • What parts were in the book but were not in the movie? Why do you think the people who made the movie left out those parts?
  • Were there any parts that were in the movie that were not in the book? Why do you think the people that made the movie added those parts?
  • Do you think the people who made the movie did a good job of portraying the book? Why or why not?
  • Which did you enjoy more: the book or the movie? Why?

You could also:

  • Brainstorm all the ways the movie was different from the book.
  • Make a Venn diagram using one circle for the book and one for the movie.
  • Discuss a book that has not been made into a movie – what are the challenges? What would you need to leave out? Who would you cast for each character?
  • For fun (and fluency), list all the books that you can think of that have been made into movies.
  • Grab these Book vs. Movie Question Cards.

Fun Fact: Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, hated the 1971 movie version of his book so much that he refused to allow the studio to make a sequel. His widow (Dahl died in 1990) allowed Warner Bros. to make the 2005 version. She not only loved the movie but was sure that her late husband would have, too.

What has your experience been reading a book and then watching the movie?

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From Theory to Practice



Movies can be an integral part of the language arts classroom when they are used in ways that encourage and develop students' critical thinking. In this activity, students explore matching texts—novels and the movies adapted from them—to develop their analytical strategies. They use graphic organizers to draw comparisons between the two texts and hypothesize about the effect of adaptation. They analyze the differences between the two versions by citing specific adaptations in the film version, indicating the effect of each adaptation on the story, and deciding if they felt the change had a positive effect on the overall story. Students then design new DVD covers and a related insert for the movies, reflecting their response to the movie version.

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  • Grades 6–8 Book and Film List: This text list includes books and their corresponding movies that are appropriate for the middle school classroom.
  • DVD Cover Creator: This online tool allows users to type and illustrate CD and DVD covers and related booklets for liner notes and other information.

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Movies have long been a part of the educational setting, but they can take on the role as simple entertainment unless teachers develop lessons that ask students to move beyond seeing the film as "just entertainment." Renee Hobbs explains that "When we use film and television in the classroom, it is important to do so in ways that promote active, critical thinking" (48). Hobbs urges teachers to design activities that "engage and motivate reluctant readers, enabling them to build comprehension strategies" (45). As students compare novels and the related film adaptations in this lesson plan, they move beyond simple entertainment to the kind of deeper critical thinking Hobbs advocates.

Further Reading

Hobbs, Renee. "Improving Reading Comprehension by Using Media Literacy Activities." Voices from the Middle 8.4 (May 2001): 44-50.

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