Read the Book: See the Movie

Read The Book: See The Movie

Presented by Zahra M. Baird
Cineaste and Youth Services Librarian
Chappaqua Library, Chappaqua, NY

Getting children and young adults and sometimes even adults to read can be challenging. However, most children, teens and adults love to check out movies from the library. The DVDs and videos just fly off the shelves. How can you harness this interest in movies and use it to lead children, teens and adults back to books? How can you encourage a love of reading, critical viewing skills, visual literacy as well as discussion skills? By creating a "Read the Book See the Movie" program @your library! Participants read the book by themselves (books can be read aloud or heard in audio-book format), then get together @the library for a viewing of the movie based on the book, followed by a discussion and related snack. For the younger children, an activity (ex. game, art, project, experiment) could extend the reading/viewing experience. Typically you might get between 15-30 participants attending each session, which can last between 2 to 3 hours, depending upon the length of the movie. The event can be held in the library's theatre/auditorium. At Chappaqua, we hold the program during the summer months for children on Monday nights from 6 to 9pm, but at Scarsdale, we held the program during the school year only, on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5pm. For the teens, Sundays from noon-3pm was the preferred program time. The time selected will depend upon the needs and activities going on in your community. Suggested read-a-likes and view-a-likes are on display in the Library and books for the next session are held for checkout as well.

Planning Process:


  • Find out if your library has a motion picture license before you plan to launch a Read the Book See the Movie series. If you don't, then talk to your director about obtaining one from either MPLC Motion Picture Licensing Corporation or call 1-800-462-8855 or Movie Licensing USA or call 1-877-321-1301.
  • Research - draw up a list of books that have been turned into movies. Factors that affect selection include: movie length, movie rating, movie reviews, book reviews, book length and availability of books in paperback and audio. Come up with a short list of workable titles, choosing books and movies you feel comfortable sharing with your target audience and that you yourself enjoy.
  • Finalize your choices by drawing up a calendar of titles and dates for your series and ordering extra copies of the books. Create flyers and press releases to send to the local newspaper, radio station, cable station, and schools through the media specialist and/or PTA newsletter. Be sure to include dates, length of movies (add on 30 minutes to an hour for discussion, activity and snack), explain the idea, and targeted age range. Be careful in your language - use "see the movie based on "TITLE OF BOOK"" to avoid copyright problems. Advertise on the library website.
  • Decide if you are willing to serve food or not. This is a big draw.
  • Decide upon which fun activity you will either have the children participate in as a group, or for the children to take home with them, thus extending the experience and adding another dimension.


  • Send out reminder postcards, emails or call participants in order to remind them about the event.
  • Reread the book, paying close attention to sequence of events, characters, description and plot.
  • After reading the book, view the movie and take detailed notes about the plot, characters and sequence of events. Include use of music, dialog, camera angles etc.
  • Start making a list of points you wish to discuss with the participants based on your notes.
  • If you are serving food, approach the local grocery store/bakery/corner store to donate a snack related to the book/movie.
  • Get an extra copy of the film in either DVD or video depending upon your equipment. Make sure you have an extra bulb for the projector on hand.
  • List similar movies/books from your collection that might be checked out and put them on display.


  • Make sure that the AV equipment is working, have snack ready, copies of the next book that you will be reading, read-a-likes and see-a-likes on display for checkout. Set up seats and activity area.
  • Make the "Read the Book: See the Movie" experience FUN. Don't have an atmosphere where participants are forced to speak or feel pressured. Let the participants say "pass" if they feel that they have nothing to contribute to a question you have asked.
  • The question: "If you could be any character in either the book or the movie, which character would you be and why?" is a great conversation starter and helps delve deeper into the contents of both book and movie.
  • Talk about how film adaptation changes the plot of the book. Consider what changes translated to the big screen has on character and theme. How can points be made effectively in an a-v medium vs. a book? Talk about cinematography and how the directors and actors bring the book to life (or not).
  • Ask which version the audience preferred - book or movie - why? Discuss favorite scenes/passages.
  • Encourage participants to read other books that have been turned into films.








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Funding Alternatives: Partner with your local movie theatre and local bookstore. Look for local or state grant opportunities. Approach your Friends of the Library Group. Work together with your local school district.

Visit the NYLA FILM Roundtable website at for more information.

Zahra M. Baird at: