Published: 5th April 2022

A round-up of film adaptations from popular children's books

To read the book, or watch the film first… it’s a debate that comes up over and over again

What do you prefer?

Over the years, many books have been brought to the big screen. From C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.

To mark International Children's Book Day, we’ve rounded up a few iconic book-to-film releases. All of these family-friendly films are rated either U, PG, 12A or 12 and we’ve included the ratings info, so you can choose what’s right for you. 

James And The Giant Peach

mild threat

James And The Giant Peach is a fantasy adventure in which an orphaned boy escapes from his wicked aunts to fly across the ocean in a giant peach populated by talking insects.

Threat

There are occasional scenes of mild threat, including characters being chased by a mechanical shark and ghost pirates, and a sequence in which the protagonist faces a giant black rhino formed from clouds, thunder and lightening. However, these sequences are largely brief and focus on the main characters' bravery and resourcefulness rather than fear.

Horrid Henry - The Movie

Contains mild rude humour and very mild comic threat

Horrid Henry – The Movie is a British children's comedy drama in which a young boy and his friends uncover a dastardly plot and fight to save their school.

Theme

Rude humour includes jokes about farting and 'gross-out' moments which include a close up shot of a boy flicking a bogey so that it splats onto the camera. Rude comic phrases such as 'cockroach fart', 'bogey brain' and 'snot face' are used throughout.

Threat

A boy takes part in a TV quiz show and risks being dropped into a tank of bubbling green gunge if he does not answer the questions correctly.

Little Women

very mild threat

Little Women is an adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, following the lives of four sisters in 19th century America.

Threat and horror

Very mild threat includes sight of a girl falling through ice on a frozen pond; she is quickly rescued.

There is a mild scuffle between sisters. There is a passing reference to hanging, as well as an oblique reference to working in a 'cathouse'. A character dies and people are seen grieving.

Wonder

mild bad language, violence, scenes of emotional upset

Wonder is a US drama in which a boy with facial disfigurements struggles to fit in at a mainstream school.

Language

Mild bad language includes uses of 'crap', 'jerk', 'buttface' and 'God'.

Violence

Altercations between youngsters contain undetailed kicks and punches. A boy sustains a minor head wound after being pushed over.

Theme

There are several scenes depicting characters in distress, including the central character crying about being bullied, falling out with a friend and the death of his dog. Members of his family provide reassurance, and the narrative is ultimately uplifting.

A Wrinkle In Time

mild threat

A Wrinkle In Time is a US fantasy drama in which a girl and her brother search for their missing father in a fantastical realm.

Threat

Children are threatened by fantastical forces: they flee a vast storm, fall from great height and meet sinister red-eyed villains along their journey. A physical embodiment of evil flies through space and hits the Earth, causing explosions. Two young men, influenced by this evil, bully a homeless man.

There are moments of violence: a girl throws a ball into a bully's face; a girl is caught by the tendrils of a fantastical force and flung around.

The Secret Garden

mild scary scenes, threat

The Secret Garden tells the story of a young orphaned girl who arrives at her uncle’s remote Yorkshire manor, where she discovers a magical garden.

Threat and horror

There are sequences in which a young child walks down dark corridors alone at night and hears strange sounds. There are brief 'jump scares' in which sounds scare a child. There is a house fire in which people are in a danger.

Characters display and express racist attitudes towards Indian people and culture; racism is clearly condemned by the film as a whole.

The Chronicles Of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

Contains mild threat, battle and fantasy violence

The Chronicles Of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is a 2005 film adaptation of the second volume in C. S. Lewis's series of fantasy novels. It follows a trio of children who enter an enchanted land that is threatened by an evil witch.

Threat

In one scene, a child is captured and has a dagger held to his throat. In another scene, the evil queen pins a different child to the ground and threatens him with a spear. However, these scenes of threat are not prolonged or intense. Other scary scenes include characters fleeing through underground tunnels, as a pack of the evil queen's wolves search for them, and the human children being caught on rapidly shrinking slabs of ice over a fast moving river.

Violence

There are a number of battle sequences in which armies of fantastical creatures fight one another. Although there is sight and sound of armour and weapons clashing, as well as a suggestion of creatures being stabbed and speared, there is little detail. At the beginning of the film, prior to children's entry to the land of Narnia, there is sight of an aerial dogfight between two World War II fighter planes, as well as a wartime bombing sequence.

The Maze Runner

intense scenes, threat, violence

The Maze Runner is a film in which a group of young people find themselves in a glade where the only escape appears to be through a dangerous maze.

Threat

There are intense scenes involving threat and attacks from large biomechanical creatures which roam the maze at night. There are also intense moments of threat involving infected characters who become aggressive and violent, and scenes of threat when characters disagree with each other.

Violence

Scenes of violence include fighting between the young people in the glade, with some heavy punches and blows. There are also attacks by the biomechanical creatures in which young people are seen being grabbed and thrown or dragged away. In one scene a character is shot, with a small patch of blood seen on their chest, and another character is hit in the chest with a makeshift spear. There is brief sight of dead bodies, although there is no detail of injury.

There is mild bad language, including uses of 'arse', 'bastards', 'son of a bitch' and 'shit'.

The Hate U Give

moderate violence, drug and sex references, infrequent strong language

The Hate U Give is a US drama in which a teenage girl is drawn into activism after she witnesses the murder of her friend by a white police officer.

Violence

A white police officer shoots a black teenager, with bloody aftermath detail as the young man dies in the street.

Drugs

There are references to drug-dealing, as well as to 'molly', 'crack' and 'pills'. The work as a whole does not condone drug misuse.

Sex

There are undetailed references to condoms and 'hos'.

Violence

There is use of infrequent strong language ('f**k'), as well as milder terms such as 'shit', 'butt', 'ass', 'damn', 'bitch', and 'piss'.

Racism is a theme of the film. There is moderate threat during drive-by shootings, armed stand-offs and riots.

To find out where you can stream, buy or rent these films, check out Find Any Film.