Published: 2nd April 2024

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 Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. 

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 content advice, so you can choose what’s right for you. 

Horrid Henry - The Movie (2011)

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.


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.


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 (2019)

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.

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (2023)

mild sex references, references to racism, emotional upset

A 12-year-old girl navigates growing up in this uplifting coming of age drama. Frank and relatable discussion of early-adolescent anxieties such as menstruation, bras and boys is accompanied by humour and is gentle in tone.


Use of very mild bad language occurs (‘Jesus’, ‘God’, ‘damn’, ‘hell’).


Adolescent girls frequently discuss kissing boys, getting periods and their desire for their breasts to grow. They sing a comic chant in the hope it will increase their bust sizes. In one scene, they giggle as they study an illustration of male genitals in a scientific anatomy book. They later look at a topless centrefold in a pornographic magazine but no nudity is visible. A 12 year old girl is gossiped about and rumoured to be promiscuous because she is more physically developed than her peers. The attitude towards the girl is condemned and characters’ later regret their behaviour towards her. A boy briefly mocks a girl because of her small breast size and characters kiss on the lips.


A woman becomes tearful as she describes her parents’ antisemitic attitude to her marrying a Jewish man and the disapproval of their interfaith relationship. There is a reference to them saying she will go to hell if the marriage goes ahead.

Rude humour

An older woman jokes about farting in her sleep.

Injury detail

A man accidentally cuts his finger on a lawn mower and there is very brief sight of blood in the aftermath. A girl has sore blisters on the back of heels after wearing shoes without socks.


Scenes include mild emotional upset from family disagreements about religion and faith as well as from the trials and tribulations of puberty and growing up.

Wonka (2023)

mild threat, violence, implied bad language

Wonka shares the tale of an impoverished chocolate-maker with big dreams who befriends a young orphan in this colourful musical fantasy film.



A police officer ‘roughs up’ a man by dunking his head repeatedly in freezing water during a scene of mild comic violence. A little girl is casually kicked by her cruel guardian, but the blow does not appear to hurt her. Other scenes contain very mild slapstick violence such as comic knockout blows.

Threat and horror

Two people are forced at gunpoint into a vault which then rapidly fills with liquid chocolate, threatening to drown them; they remain calm, however, and do not come to harm. In a short scene, disgruntled shop customers start a riot, smashing up the shop and setting it on fire, but again no one is hurt.


There is an implied, partial use of the term ‘arse’. Very mild bad language includes ‘damn’, ‘gosh’, ‘blasted’ and ‘jeez’.


There are very mild comic sex references, such as when one man suggests to another that he could make his love interest ‘sigh’ by showing her ‘some thigh’.

Rude humour

There is very mild toilet humour, including brief fart jokes and references to diarrhoea.


There are infrequent very mild upsetting scenes, including ones related to past bereavement.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022)

mild threat

A boy moves to the city with his family and befriends a singing crocodile in this joyful US musical comedy.


Comic violence consists of brief bouts of wrestling and undetailed references to a man's run-ins with loan sharks.

Threat and horror

There are occasional intense moments of threat, such as a man attempting to steal a boy's phone, as well as a crocodile snapping its jaws at a man cornered in a zoo enclosure. These moments are brief and end reassuringly, with other scenes of threat involving fantastical elements, most notably a singing crocodile. In one scene, the crocodile is tasered and then sedated before Wildlife Control take him away to a zoo. Another scene involves the crocodile swallowing a pet cat whole, before spitting it back out moments later. There are also chase sequences on foot and in motor vehicles, but these are brief and comic, without resulting in serious injury. A boy experiences some anxiety when commuting through New York City and in one scene suffers a panic attack. However, the boy receives immediate medical help, as well as continued comfort and encouragement from his family.


There is infrequent use of very mild bad language ('God').

Rude humour

Scenes of very mild rude humour involve animals flatulating and a cat with the runs.


A boy is picked on by older students on his first day at a new school, but this behaviour is portrayed negatively. There are also moments of emotional upset when characters are separated from one another.

The Magician’s Elephant (2023)

mild threat

The Magician’s Elephant is a US animated fantasy adventure in which an orphaned boy discovers his sister may still be alive, and that the key to finding her is a magical elephant. 

Threat and horror

A village burns as a war rages through the area, with characters panicking to escape fiery buildings. A boy is chased through streets by a sword-wielding soldier. He dangles from rooftops and later falls from a considerable height, but uses a parachute to save himself. There are further scenes of sword threat, as characters dodge slashing blades. A boy stands between soldiers with guns and an elephant to stop them from shooting the animal.

There are references to the deaths of loved ones and the impact of war upon people's lives and we learn that the mother of two main characters died during childbirth. A married couple briefly discuss being unable to have children. There are scenes of sword fighting and some slapstick comic violence.

The Secret Garden (2020)

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 Railway Children Return (2021)

violence, racism theme, threat, language, rude humour, dangerous behaviour

The Railway Children Return is a family drama, set during World War II, in which three siblings are evacuated from Manchester to the countryside.


There are scenes of racism in which Black men are called 'boy' and beaten up for socialising with white people. In one scene, a teenage boy speaks of his experience of racism back in the United States and briefly refers to 'lynchings'. There a brief scene in which both white and Black people are attacked by US soldiers for socialising together. Racism is clearly and quickly condemned and the issue as a whole is treated with sensitivity.


There is mild bad language including use of the term 'turd'. Other language includes terms such as 'damn', 'God' and 'hell'.

dangerous behaviour

A child steps out in front of a train to stop it. There are scenes in which children play near train tracks.

threat and horror

A girl hits her head after a bomb is dropped nearby. A group of soldiers invade a party and become violent. There is a tense scene when two soldiers search for a teenage boy and girl who are in hiding.

rude humour

There are frequent moments of toilet humour which include references to 'skidmarks' and 'touching cloth'.


A Black man is punched in the stomach and then, it's implied, kicked; it's suggested that the violence is racially motivated. A pub is raided and soldiers attack civilians with someone eventually being shot; the shooting is discreet. A teenage boy has a bloody gash on his knee and a swollen foot.

There are emotional scenes when parents have to say goodbye to their children who are being evacuated and also when characters become bereaved.

The School for Good and Evil (2022)

moderate violence, horror, bloody images

The School for Good and Evil is a fantasy adventure film in which two best friends are swept away to a magical school where they find themselves at opposite ends in the fight of good vs evil.


There is moderate violence when men and woman battle using bladed weapons and their magical powers. In one scene a man stabs a man in the back, however there is no strong detail.

Threat and horror

In brief scenes of moderate horror teenagers are dragged away at speed by black creatures with red eyes. In one prolonged scene of fantasy threat characters are pursued by a reaper with a scythe who tries to kill them.

Injury detail

There is some emphasis on blood within a fantastical context, including a scene in which a woman strikes an evil magical being with a sword causing him to disintegrate in to bloody droplets. In one scene a character who is turning into a witch pulls out one of her teeth, but it's brief with no focus on gore.

Flashing/flickering lights

This work contains flashing images which may affect viewers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.

The film features mild bad language ('shit' and 'ass') and very mild terms ('God' and 'hell'). There is also a brief suicide reference when a teenager tries to jump from a building, but this is within a fantastical context. In one scene, a teenage girl is briefly coerced in to a kiss by an evil male character.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)

moderate violence, threat, drug misuse

A dark and brooding story of betrayal and mistrust, this sci-fi fantasy prequel sees a singer paired with a conflicted mentor in a deadly game.


Teenagers use blades, guns and heavy objects to kill each other, but with limited bloody detail. There are executions by hanging. A teenager uses a broken bottle to stab a villain's neck.

Threat and horror

Teenagers are forced to murder one another as part of a dystopian game. Screaming teenagers are pursued by fantastical snakes which swarm over and bite them. A drunk man attempts to grab a woman, but she fights him off.


There is use of mild bad language such as 'piss' and 'ass'.


A person calls a teenager 'mentally ill' in a derogatory manner. There is discrimination among the fantastical social tiers of a dystopian society.


A dislikeable man misuses morphine, with negative consequences.

Injury detail

People are seen to be bloody in the aftermath of violence. The corpses of teenagers lie in a gladiatorial arena.


A young man says he has recently considered suicide.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

moderate violence, threat, language

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a science fiction drama in which a group of young people try to save their friends who are being held captive


There are scenes in which infected zombie-like people are shot. There are also exchanges of gunfire, and fight scenes including heavy kicks and blows with makeshift weapons. There are also some scenes in which people are stabbed. However, there is limited injury detail. The film also contains scenes featuring infected people with swollen and diseased features.

Threat and horror

There are scenes in which a group of young people face various threats, including infected zombie-like people who attack them. There is also a scene in which a young man is threatened by a giant robotic spider. The film also contains several prolonged and intense chase scenes.


There is infrequent moderate bad language (for example, 'twat'), an offensive middle finger gesture, and some milder bad language (for example, 'dick', 'son of a bitch', 'shit', 'bastard', 'pissed', 'asshole', 'ass', 'bloody', 'hell', 'goddamn', 'damn').

The Hate U Give (2018)

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.


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


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


There are undetailed references to condoms and 'hos'.


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.