Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Reeling them in: using film to encourage reluctant readers and extend readers

Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr Ollivander was waiting for.  The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become. 
‘Tricky customer, eh?  Not to worry, we’ll find the perfect match here somewhere...’ 
(Rowling, J.K.,  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) 

Working in a school library I often like to imagine myself as an Ollivander of the library.   Helping children select a book is often hit or miss and may take quite a while, but when it is right it is magical.

At this time of year all the big movies are being released as well as holiday television specials, and many provide a wonderful opportunity to highlight to students that they started as, believe it or not, a book!   

Students are often surprised to discover that their favourite movie is not only in the written form (e.g. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Hobbit,  Narnia,  Charlotte’s Web, The Book Thief) but that the story may also continue in sequels or series; or that the author who inspired the film has written other books.  Movies can also be used to encourage students to read the Classics (e.g. The Secret Garden, Little Women, Peter Pan) or revisit fairy tales, many of which have been made into animations.

Students often get very excited about a book because of the controversy prior to a movie’s release or after seeing the movie.  A recent example is The Hunger Games trilogy.  The first movie generated a huge amount of interest and not always at the appropriate age level and this is where matching a suitable book to a child is important. 

A successful activity I have undertaken with students of differing ages is to seek their suggestions of books (novels or picture books) that should be made into movies or animations, as well as the actors/actresses to play or voice the lead characters.  Students can then design the billboard or create a digital preview promoting their upcoming movie.

Using the excitement and enjoyment of movies to direct children towards books may provide that Ollivander moment – a challenging and at times frustrating process, but ultimately rewarding. 

Tricia Scott

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