Friday 24 January 2014

Never Judge a Book by it's Movie? But Trust the Movie to Help Kid's Stretch their Reading Abilities to Read the Book!

I'm really pleased to see the news article this week about the impact of movie adaptations of books on children reading. Using my best finely honed craft, revered usually for one line pitches, I’ll give you the summery; that watching movie adaptations of books, inspires children to read books above their reading age thereby challenging, improving and expanding their reading abilities. To read the full article press here.

I personally welcome the research, as there is always an argument that movies and television are some way in conflict with reading which I stringently disagree with. You see as any of you who have read my blog before will know I’m dyslexic.

My dyslexia was horrendous as a child, and reading was a hard heart breaking and potentially volatile endeavour, and reading despite me LOVING it (and hating it in equal measure) took a great deal of commitment and investment. I read slowly, one word at a time, and usually ended up in an emotional mess because I couldn't read the words, and couldn't look them up in a dictionary either (dictionaries are quite frankly hell for dyslexics!). So reading was a gamble, when I was sacrificing so much time, and investing so much, I was reluctant to read a book if I was unsure that it would pay off. The pay-off, that the story was good enough to make the endurance worthwhile.

Movies, however I watched lots of (still do), and if I really liked a movie then I’d read the book, and even if they were way beyond my reading capabilities, as I knew that there'd be a pay-off. I knew I’d like the story, so the risk factor was removed.

Here’s a few…

When The Whales Came, was an amazing English production starring Dame Helen Mirren, released in 1989, adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s novel. Again, I fell hook line and sinker for the film, and watched it until the VHS tape started getting lines and going all crinkly, and then I watched it more. This inspired me so much I actually spent my heard earned pocket money (a blog for another time) on a copy of the book with the movie tie-in cover; I read this book many times as a consequence of watching the film.

The NeverEnding Story I saw the film which was made in 1984 probably two years later when I was eight, (and was still reading the equivalent of Biff and Chip starter readers) I LOVED the film, and watch it again, again, and again. When I found a copy of Michael Ende’s, original book a few years later (1990 ish), I read it despite the fact that half the print is in green and other in red, and it’s the size of a brick, and that it’s adapted from German so it is a tad trickier to read than something that has not been translated, I struggled through and LOVED it even more than the movie.

My first ever adult book, was as a result of watching the epic ground breaking CGI masterpiece movie adaptation. Cast your mind back twenty years ago, guest it yet? Back before the invention of contemporary YA novels, all my friends were reading Virginia Andrews's Flowers in the Attic or Stephen King, or The Interview with a Vampire series, and I had nothing the right reading age or anything that inspired me enough to consider tackling adult novels. Then at aged fourteen, I went to the tiny cinema and watched Jurassic Park. The effects, the story, everything about it blew me away, so I brought the book and struggled through it, loving every hurdle, and the pay-off was major. This was the book where I realised just HOW MUCH BETTER, book were than there adaptations. I then went through a brief phases of reading every Michael Crichton novel I could. 

The same thing happened with my children most notably with Percy Jackson, which has not only inspired my daughter to read the Rick Riordan’s novels, but also anything and everything that feature Greek mythology, thereby stretching her reading capabilities and improving them. I sometime help out at a fantastic Indy Book shop Mostly Book’s Abingdon, and whenever a movie adaptation is realised there is always a notable increasing in people coming in to buy the books.

So this little blog is essentially just to say that movies and books aren't in direct competition, but in a misunderstood partnership, helping one another to boost kids reading abilities and love of story, or at least that’s my take on it!