From epic fantasies to heartwarming tales of friendship, there’s no shortage of middle-grade books made into movies. Here are some of the best to start with!

middle-grade books made into movies

Best Middle-Grade Books Made Into Movies

I’m usually a “read the book before watching the movie” type of girl. Then I sit there throughout the whole film saying to myself (because I’m not so obnoxious that I say it aloud), “This wasn’t in the book. They didn’t do that in the book. Did they even read the book???”

For kids who aren’t big readers, though, trying it the other way around can actually encourage them to crack open a book more often. Find a movie that they really love, then tell them that the book was SO different. It’ll pique their curiosity enough to encourage them to at least try reading the movie’s source material.

If you need some great flicks to start with, here are 15 ideas across pretty much every genre, along with where to stream them.

FYI, I did use affiliate links below, both for the book recommendations and for some of the streaming services. If you decide to buy something from them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Yadda yadda, you know the drill.

1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Let’s kick things off with one of the most popular book AND movie series of all time. All seven Harry Potter books are available in movie format as well (8 movies total since they broke up The Deathly Hallows).

While the films did a pretty great job of capturing the main details, the books offer so much more, from backstories that aren’t present in the flicks to locations that were never even shown on screen. It’s like seeing the Wizarding World through a whole new lens…and the way it was intended to be seen.

Where to Watch:

  • HBO Max
  • Peacock
  • Amazon (only as a rental or for purchase)
  • Vudu (as rental or for purchase)

The entire Harry Potter film collection is usually streaming on at least two different services at any given time. Right now, you’ll find them on both HBOMax and Peacock. Warner Brothers created the films, but I believe Universal currently holds rights to air/stream them.

I think you can also rent them on Prime Video. I bought my digital copies through Amazon so I get a “you own this title” message and can’t actually see if they’re available for rent. You can definitely rent them on Vudu, though.

2. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

Finding out that the Narnia books were basically a religious allegory kind of ruined them for me. That said, I thought the movies did a good job of balancing them out and making the story more approachable for everyone.

Whether you like them because of the heavy-handed religious symbolism or despite it, though, the movies are a good way to encourage your kids to read more. There are more books than movies (7 books, only 3 movies). So if your kids want to know what happens next or just really want to return to Narnia for another adventure, they’ll love the series.

Where to Watch:

3. The Princess Diaries

There are FAR more Princess Diaries books than movies (10 versus a measly 2, although there are rumors about a possible 3rd one, although not on any really legit sites so they may be just rumors and wishful thinking).

I adored Anne Hathaway’s Mia, but there’s so much more to her story than what the two films portray. Even if there is a 3rd movie, it’ll take a huge leap into the future. So the books are still the only way for to find out what happens in between.

Where to Watch:

4. Holes

Holes is one of the best middle-grade books turned into movies ever, and not just because it’s such a great story. The movie actually sticks pretty close to the source material, with just a few minor differences here and there.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t give kids much incentive to read the book after they see the movie, so you may want to try going the other way around with this one. Get them to read the book, then let them see how the movie matches up to how they envisioned everything.

Where to Watch:

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When it comes to Roald Dahl’s classic in movie form, you have two choices. You can either watch the old Willy Wonka movie with Gene Wilder or the newer version with Johnny Depp.

As much as I love the Wilder one since I grew up with it, I really do think the Depp one is a lot better overall. My son always preferred it over the old one, too. He found the Oompa Loompas really disturbing in the Gene Wilder version.

Regardless of which version you watch, there are a lot of differences between the books and the movies. Some are subtle and just provide a little more background to the characters. Others are more significant.

Where to Watch:

  • Netflix – both versions
  • HBO Max – both versions

Rent of buy Charlie & the Chocolate Factory:

Rent or buy Willy Wonka:

6. Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is one of my favorite fairy tale movies of all time. I really just adore Anne Hathaway in general, and she’s the perfect Ella. The book is part of a series by Gail Carson Levine, but the other tomes focus on entirely different stories and characters.

Even though they’re not really a continuation of the story, they have the same witty and engaging writing style. So if your kids enjoy the flick, they’ll enjoy the other stories in the series.

Where to Watch:

7. Matilda

Danny DeVito brought the beloved Matilda classic to life way back in 1996 and it became an instant hit. He didn’t just star in the movie alongside Mara Wilson, he actually directed it, too. While he did a great job of capturing the spirit of the book there are some major differences. For one thing, Dahl’s novel is set in England while DeVito’s film takes place in the US. So even if your kids have watched the movie a dozen times, they’ll still find something new and exciting in the book!

Where to Watch:

  • Starz – They usually have deals. Right now, I’m paying $5 a month for 3 months. You can also sign up through Amazon channels.
  • Amazon (rent or buy)
  • Vudu (rent or buy)

8. Percy Jackson

I absolutely adore Rick Riordan, both as a person and a writer. Not only does he write epic stories (literally and figuratively), he uses his fame through his Rick Riordan Presents imprint to elevate new and marginalized authors.

Like most fans, my adoration of Riordan began with Percy Jackson. So I was SUPER excited when the first movie, The Lightning Thief, came out. Alas, it didn’t even come within a million miles of competing with the book. The same goes for Sea of Monsters.

That said, the movies are fun if you can pretend that they’re not based on books that you really loved. If you liked the flicks even a little, you’ll absolutely LOVE the books.

Where to Watch The Lightning Theif

Where to Watch Sea of Monsters

9. The Adventures of Captain Underpants

The Captain Underpants series was my son’s favorite when he was in 4th and 5th grade. In fact, those books are really the only reason he started reading at all beyond what was expected of him for school. They launched him into other funny series, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (below), Stick Dog, and such.

According to him, the books are MUCH better. The movie was just “okay.” I guess that was the general consensus since no one bothered to make another movie. Fortunately, there are plenty of novels in the series! They’re all extremely fast reads. Even my reluctant reader got through each one within a few days.

Where to Watch Captain Underpants First Epic Movie

10. How To Eat Fried Worms

I think you have to have a pretty gross sense of humor to enjoy this story that’s literally about eating worms. Honestly, this one gives me a stomach ache just thinking of it! Of course, I’m not the target demographic. Considering how well the book did, the target demographic obviously has zero issues reading about a boy who actually enjoys eating worms. The movie didn’t do quite as well with critics (I didn’t watch it), but once again, the target demo seemed to enjoy it well enough.

Where to Watch:

  • Kanopy (available through some libraries)
  • Amazon (rent or buy)
  • Vudu (rent or buy)

11. A Series of Unfortunate Events

I always loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, mostly because I have a pretty dark sense of humor. The Netflix series was fantastic (my son and I watched it together). Long before that, though, Jim Carrey brought the delightfully creepy Count Olaf.

Only one movie and three seasons of the series came out of 13 books, so there’s so much more of the rich and twisted world to explore through Lemony Snickett’s novels.

Where to Watch the Movie:

  • Hulu
  • Paramount+
  • Epix
  • Amazon (rent or buy)
  • Vudu (rent or buy)

12. The Golden Compass

I LOVED Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, so I was really excited about the movie. Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my expectations as far as a novel adaptation went. If I pretend that it has nothing to do with one of my favorite books I can appreciate it for what it is- a gorgeous movie- but NOT what I hoped for at all.

The HBO series His Dark Materials does a much better job of bringing the book to life. It’s not perfect, but still better than the movie. If you want the real story with all the vivid details, though you absolutely MUST read the books.

Where to Watch:

  • HBO Max (also the only place to watch the series)
  • Amazon (rent or buy)
  • Vudu (rent or buy)

13. Alex Rider

Alex Rider is perfect for tweens who love the idea of spy movies but can’t really relate to older characters like James Bond. The movie isn’t all that great, but I hear that the series is much better. It’s on my watch list. The only reason I haven’t watched it yet is that it’s on IMDB TV, which means sitting through ads. I save those shows for when I’m desperate to find something to watch since I REALLY dislike ads.

While there’s just one movie and two seasons of the show so far (it’s not canceled, but I can’t find legit info on when the next season drops) there are currently 12 novels. So, once again, you’ll get to spend A LOT more time with the clever teen spy if you read the books.

Where to Watch:

  • Amazon Free with Ads on IMDB TV
  • Vudu (rent or buy without ads)

14. Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is perfect for tweens who like Alex Rider but wish that it was just a bit more magical. I love Colfer’s writing style. His highly underrated book, The Wish List, is actually my favorite by him but the Artemis Fowl series is a close second.

The movie flopped in an epic way, with a 4.1 rating on IMDB and 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. As an adaptation, yeah, it was pretty awful. Still, like The Golden Compass, if you just pretend that it’s not based on the book I actually thought it was fun. I don’t understand the sheer hatred that so many have for it. Even my senior-citizen mom liked it, and she never read the books.

If you liked the movie, you’ll love the books. If you hated the movie but liked the idea of it, you’ll love the books.

Where to Watch:

  • It’s exclusive to Disney+. You can’t even buy or rent it anywhere else. Not even on DVD.

15. Bridge to Terabithia

One of the most heartbreaking tween books of all time was also one of the most heartbreaking films of the first decade of the new millennium. I cried for a week after both.

The film did a really great job overall of bringing the source material to life. Sure, there are some differences, but not nearly as many as with other adaptations. Both were excellent, but I really recommend reading the book first, then seeing if the movie’s version of Terabithia matches up to the one in your head.

Where to Watch:

Of course, these are far from the only tween books made into movies, but they cover a wide range of genres so there should be something for everyone. Enjoy!

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From epic fantasies to heartwarming tales of friendship, there's no shortage of middle-grade books made into movies. Here are some of the best to start with!

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