Bonding with your teen can sometimes be challenging, but for taciturn teens one way to connect is by watching films together. This list of movies based on books to watch with teens offers you some great flicks to choose from.
Plus, everyone loves a good movie and the right film can provide talking points, a learning experience and when you laugh or gasp out loud together… well, isn’t that the best?
The list includes movies based on YA books as well as “grown-up” books (whatever that means!). In addition you may enjoy these silent movie recommendations.
The films vary in their availability. As always, you can check out the DVD version from your library and I’ve listed the major places the films are currently available online. However, as you know, streaming services and related fees can change.
In addition to the movies on this list, PBS’s Masterpiece is a glorious repository of films based on books that adults and teens will thoroughly enjoy! As a kid I treasured the time my parents actually let me watch TV because I got to watch Masterpiece Theater with them. Do check it out!
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Best Movies to Watch with Teens
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly
(PG) Learn a little history while you watch a film about some truly stellar women who worked for NASA. Discuss with your teen how the women had to overcome obstacles as well as how society has changed or not changed. The book is terrific, too!
Based on the book by Lois Lowry
(PG-13) Your teen may have read one or more of the books in Lowry’s Giver Quartet about the oppressive nature of a seemingly perfect world. Although the movie doesn’t have the depth that the novel does, it is a thought-provoking watch.
Call the Midwife
Based on the book by Jennifer Worth
(TV-MA) Netflix has given this series about midwives in a working class English neighborhood a “Mature” rating, but I think it is perfectly appropriate for teens, especially when watched with an adult. This is a television series rather than a single flick, but it is satisfying even if you watch just a few episodes. History buffs will love it.
The Book Thief
Based on the book by Marcus Zusak
(PG-13) My son absolutely loved The Book Thief when it was assigned reading for school. Set in 1939 Germany, it tells the tale of Liesel Meminger who comes to Munich to live with a foster family and shares books with a Jewish boy. It’s a moving story and a wonderful film to watch with teens.
The Hate U Give
Based on the book by Angie Thomas
(PG-13) This film, based on a modern day classic YA novel, is emotional and timely. The main character, Starr, is a 16 year old who witnesses a police shooting of her unarmed friend. It offers much to discuss with your teenager!
Murder on the Orient Express
Based on the book by Agatha Christie
(PG; PG-13) There are several adaptations of Christie’s novel and reading the book is by no means a requirement! I’ve never read it myself but have thoroughly enjoyed almost every Christie film I’ve ever seen. Also worth watching is the 1978 version of Death on the Nile. (A new version is set to be released late in 2020.)
The Maltese Falcon
Based on the book by Dashiell Hammett
(PG) How can you not want to watch this classic film noir with your teenager! Show them that black and white films can be super cool and introduce them to the iconic character types of the private detective and femme fatale. A glorious film!
Based on the book by S.E. Hinton
(PG) The Outsiders is a popular book for teens and Francis Ford Coppola directed the film version. The coming of age story follows teenage boys in rival gangs in late 1960s Oklahoma. Parents will have some serious nostalgia watching the actors!
Cold Comfort Farm
Based on the book by Stella Gibbons
(PG) This is one of my all time favorite movies and it is truly hilarious. Flora Poste, a city-based aspiring writer, hopes to find fodder for her writing by staying with her quirky relatives on the family farm. Watch talented British actors transform into some of the most memorable characters you’ll ever see.
I Capture the Castle
Based on the book by Dodie Smith
(R) I don’t know why this movie is rated R (maybe an intimate scene that I don’t remember?) but it is based on a 1948 novel. 17-year-old Cassandra lives with her siblings, eccentric stepmother and father in a crumbling castle. Her father once published a brilliant novel but has been suffering from writer’s block for years. A wealthy American and his brother move into the manor next door and while the family thinks it will be their salvation, things don’t go as planned! Fun fact: Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmations.
What are your favorite movies based on books to watch with teens?
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