Read the Book First: Your Guide to 2015’s Kid Lit-Inspired Movies

by Tom Burns

Photo credits: Cinderella, Walt Disney Pictures; Insurgent, Summit Entertainment; Home, DreamWorks Animation; The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, 20th Century Fox; Goosebumps, Columbia Pictures; The Peanuts Movie, 20th Century Fox; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Lionsgate

Every year, Hollywood turns a few popular children’s and young adult books into movies, and the results are good, bad, and everywhere in between. We’ve assembled this quick guide to the major kid lit-inspired movies that will be hitting the multiplex this year and the books they’re based on — just in case you want your kids to see what they were like before Hollywood got hold of them.

“Cinderella” (In Theaters March 13)
While director Kenneth Branagh’s big-budget, live-action version of “Cinderella” is primarily an adaptation of the iconic Disney cartoon, parents should consider using its release to introduce their kids to some of the better versions of the story that have been published over the years. Before they meet Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, let your young ones browse Jane Ray’s gorgeous 2012 pop-up version of Cinderella or Marcia Brown’s Cinderella, which won the 1955 Caldecott Medal, and rediscover how magical one glass slipper can be.

“Insurgent” (In Theaters March 20)
Are your tweens and teens big fans of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series? Or did they just love the 2014 “Divergent” movie starring Shailene Woodley? Either way, now is the perfect time for them to read (or re-read) the second chapter in the series, Insurgent, to make sure that they’re emotionally prepared for Tris’s continuing heartbreaks when “Insurgent” makes its way to the big screen.

“Home” (In Theaters March 27)
If you’ve seen the trailers for “Home,” the new animated feature from DreamWorks Animation (creators of “The Croods” and “How to Train Your Dragon”), you may not have realized that the cute alien invasion movie is based on the hilarious middle-grade novel The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. It’s definitely worth a read AND its sequel, Smek for President!, was just released in February.

“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” (In Theaters September 18)
The 2014 movie version of James Dashner’s acclaimed YA novel The Maze Runner was such a surprise runaway success (pun intended) that 20th Century Fox decided to rush a sequel into production. The result? “The Scorch Trials,the second chapter in Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, will be hitting movie theaters almost exactly one year after the release of the first film. (That’s fast.)

“Goosebumps” (In Theaters October 16)
While this isn’t a straight adaptation of any of the books from R.L. Stine’s extremely popular kids’ horror series, it also sounds like something that no true Goosebumps fan can ignore. In this high-concept comedy, all of the ghouls, monsters, and ghosts from the Goosebumps books escape into the real world, and the only people who can stop them are a couple of adventurous tweens and R.L. Stine himself (played by Jack Black).

“The Peanuts Movie” (In Theaters November 6)
Sure, most kids today know Charlie Brown and Snoopy from TV holiday specials and insurance commercials, but, with Blue Sky Studios (creators of “Rio”) releasing a new Peanuts animated movie this fall, this might be the perfect time to introduce your kids to the subtle genius of Charles M. Schulz’s original comic strip. Try out some Peanuts anthologies like It’s a Big World, Charlie Brown or Let’s Dance, Snoopy and watch your kids fall in love with the world’s most lovable blockhead.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” (In Theaters November 20)
Yes, we already know that every teenager (and their parents) will be seeing this movie no matter what, but maybe, if you spend the next few months re-reading Mockingjay, when the end comes and you see Jennifer Lawrence take her last bow as Katniss Everdeen, it won’t hurt quite so badly. (No promises.)