All of the book lovers out there know that seeing the movie adaptation of one of your favorite novels is huge! Here is a list of books that have been adapted to film while still staying true to the story!

Written by: Reb Czukoski – November 11th, 2021 9:51 pm pst

the giver, the book thief, life of pi and more

Credit: Fox 2000 Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment, Studio Babelsberg, TSG Entertainment

The Book Thief

Although the book has more details than the movie would be able to brush upon, here is a film that didn’t change any major storylines that would have an impact on its production. The plot centers itself around a young girl, Liesel, who lives in Nazi Germany during World War II with foster parents that harbor a Jewish man named Max. Liesel becomes infatuated with reading and writing because she always had struggled to do so and when she became part of the Hitler Youth Movement with her neighbor friend, Rudy. She takes offense to the burning of the books and steals one. The mayor’s wife sees her and allows her to come into her home at any given time to read, but eventually gets caught by the mayor and is dismissed to never come back which turns her into “the book thief” by way of sneaking into the library to borrow books and not get caught.

As a young adult novel, the book was an international bestseller, being translated into 63 languages and selling over 16 million copies. Additionally, its feature adaptation had box office success, grossing over four times the amount of the cost of production, and received many nominations and awards for the instrumental composition in the Golden Globe, Grammy, Academy Awards, and more. Both the book and the film are a great experience, and the film can be found on Amazon Prime Video!

Credit: Fox 2000 Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment, Studio Babelsberg, TSG Entertainment

Life of Pi

The primary issue when adapting a philosophical novel into a movie is the amount of speaking and internal monologues that need to be cut down in order to make it enjoyable to watch on film. The book had a lot more layers in depicting Pi’s life as an adolescent and his ties with religion, but the movie still flowed the book by hitting on almost every major event that happened even if they were short moments. The story follows Piscine, “Pi”, who is the son of a zoo manager that is requiring his family to relocate to Canada, thus taking a freight boat with their animals from India to North America to sell the animals and settle down. During their travels, the ship encounters a large storm that drowns his family, but leaves Pi to survive and get to safety on a lifeboat that is now home to him, a few other animals, and the dangerous family tiger, Richard Parker. 

What the film does well is represent all of the internal thoughts that Pi may have had in the novel on film without saying them, leaving the audience to empathize with him in that situation. A lot of Pi’s internal thoughts and feelings while coexisting in the middle of the ocean with a deadly animal are conveyed as narration while he writes his recount of the 200+ days he spent at sea, which allows room for exploring questions about life that he had in the book as well. The movie was a cinematic masterpiece and earned $609 million dollars in the box office, which for a movie that isn’t already under a cult following, is very fortunate. The book is well worth the read, but you can also find the film on Hulu or HBO Max!

The Giver

Credit: Walden Media

One of the impressive ways that the movie transformed the storytelling of the book was in the visuals transforming from black and white into color. In the dystopian world that the main character Jonas lives in, everything is meant to be uniform or “same”. With that said, no one is allowed to see in color, the children are genetically engineered and from different mothers, they are not allowed to lie, and the children get assigned careers. Jonas gets assigned as the apprentice to the Receiver of Memory, whom Jonas calls “the Giver”, and is the only person in the town that has access to the memories of all history. Given the secrecy of his job, he becomes distant from the people around him, he is given special privileges like lying, and the information he learns begins to burden him as he experiences the beauties and tragedies of life that make it interesting. Jonas and the Giver conspire to recreate society, which starts with Jonas’ escape and taking the unwanted baby that is set to be killed.

The book is a Newbery Medal-winning piece and is utilized in many school curriculums for being a significant and influential work. However, the movie did receive a bit of criticism, especially on the acting styles of the characters. Given that most people have different interpretations of their book characters is why the reviews were mixed and the story is and has always been very interesting to read and watch. The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video!


Credit: Filmnation Entertainment, Telefilm Canada, Film4, Bórd Scannán nahÉireann/Irish Film Board, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Element Pictures, No Trace Camping, Duperele Films

Unlike the others on this list, the author of this book, Emma Donoghue was also the one to deliver the screenplay adaptation. The story shows a five-year-old boy named Jack and her mother stuck in a room that she has been held captive in for seven years. His biological father is the one holding them captive and continuously sexually assaulted his mother as they are held hostage together in a shed. In a series of events after becoming curious about the outside world, Jack plays dead and is able to escape from the room and attracts the attention that saves himself and his mom from his biological father that gets arrested. Jack learns for the first time how to deal with the new world around him while his mother must refamiliarize herself with life while suffering from her mental illnesses because of the trauma she endured.

One of the key differences between the book and the film is that in the book, the narration comes from the young boy, Jack, whereas in the film the subjectivity is split between him and his mother. Understanding the simplicity of the language in the book shows that the point of view coming from only Jack would have made the story a lot slower to move through and it might have been harder to achieve the emotional moments from both of the main actors. Regardless, the plot is very similar and if you’re interested in the film picked up by A24, it is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video!


Credit: Walt Disney Pictures, Walden Media, Phoenix Pictures, Chicago Pacific Entertainment

Lastly, here’s another adaptation in which the screenplay was written by the author and another that won a Newbery Medal for its contribution to young literature. The plot follows the character Stanley of the Yelnats family that has been destined to misfortune and has been wrongfully convicted of stealing a charity donation leading him to a juvenile detention camp called Camp Green Lake to serve his time. All of the inmates at the camp are referred to by their nicknames and they spend their days digging holes in the desert and get rewarded with days off by getting valuable finds. Stanley befriends the other campers as they unearth the flaws within the system they are partaking in and upon Stanley’s release, he finds material that changes his life forever and helps his family break the cycle that they were destined to be in.

The book is another one often featured in the adolescent curriculum because of the interesting plot, POC (people of color) representation, representation of incarcerated youth, and themes surrounding race and class. Its importance made Walt Disney Pictures pick it up as a project and has received overall positive reviews. If you want to see the film, you can watch it on Disney+!

About The Author:

Reb Czukoski is an intern with AfterBuzz TV and a senior at Emerson College studying visual media arts with a focus in animation and minoring in peace and social justice. They are currently pursuing a career in animation and graphic design, with an interest in movies, music, and social media.

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