Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Digital Media Part 2: Energize Teen Readers with Book-Film Adaptations

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Digital Media Part 2: Energize Teen Readers with Book-Film Adaptations

Article excerpt

Compelling feature-length films can change lives. Whether it's a true story shedding light on an important social issue or a work of fiction drawing attention to a universal experience, film can be a powerful learning experience. Recently, the young adult novel The Hate U Give (2017) by Angie Thomas spotlighted growing concerns about the deaths of young black men at the hands of police officers. The film (PG-13,2018) was able to extend the reading experience, but it also stands on its own.

With personal, social, and school demands, many teens move away from reading during their teen years. Films provide the opportunity to keep students connected to young adult literature and draw them into both academic and leisure reading experiences.

When exploring standards and benchmarks for learning, you'll be surprised at the many references to media literacy. For instance, the Common Core standards ask eighth graders to "analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors." Whether watching feature films and video shorts or television programs, today's students need to be active and critical viewers.


Netflix, Amazon Films, and Hulu are just a few of the growing streaming services producing original content. These companies are very aware of their teen audiences. Increasingly, they're using young adult literature as their starting point. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2014) by Jenny Han (TV-14, 2018) is an example.

In addition to streaming original and popular films, these services sometimes make BBC, CBC, ABCand other international films available to American audiences. As a result, it's possible for most teens to locate films they'd like to watch through family subscriptions or library streaming services.

When promoting films in the classroom, librarians face a dilemma. A combination of the fair use provision of the Copyright Act; the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act; and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act address video use in the classroom. Teachers may show DVD movies in the classroom. However, librarians quickly enter a gray area when using streaming services in the classroom. For instance, Netflix allows educational screenings of documentaries, but this doesn't apply to other types of feature-length films. Most license agreements like Netflix only allow personal use, not educational use. If you contact Netflix, they'll tell you it's okay to use videos in the classroom. However, it's technically a violation of their contract, because subscriptions are for "personal use" only. Unless your school has purchased a streaming service license, don't encourage teacher use of personal streaming services as whole-class activities. Instead, recommend that video viewing be connected with homework assignments or small-group viewing options.


Let's explore a dozen ideas to get teens watching and reading young adult literature. For each movie, the film rating, IMDB rating, and year has been provided. When sharing movie recommendations with youth, be sure to indicate if the film adaptation has an R rating.

1. Get on Their Radar. Some youth simply aren't aware of book-movie adaptations. The key is matching student interests with books and movies. For instance, some horror fans may not realize that the cult film I Know What You Did Last Summer (R, 5.7, 1997) is based on the 1973 young adult novel by Lois Duncan.

Young adult novels are available on a wide range of sports topics. Spotlight books that have been adapted for the big screen such as the young adult novel Derby Girl (2007) by Shauna Cross, which became the film Whip It (PG-13, 6.9, 2009).

Gamers will enjoy books and movies like Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline (PG-13, 7. …

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