True Blood, Merlin, Lipstick Jungle, Sex and the City, Vampire Diaries. These are just a few of the recent television shows that were based on books, and have become popular shows we love(d) to watch. Often, we watch these shows and then we want to go read the books. Sometimes we are disappointed that the books are not exactly like the show, and visa-versa. However, there are enough of us around that can appreciate both.
I am an avid reader. I have been ever since I learned to read. I read Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books before the series aired on HBO. I’ve read many books about Merlin. I was over the moon when I found out they were making a movie based on a beloved young adult series I had read while in my teenage years, The Lord of the Rings. But what I wanted to talk about was how the two have effected my choices in what I watch or read. And not just me, but my family as well. The idea hit me when I took my two kids to the library, recently, and my 9 year-old son was looking for something for his book report. He has been watching Merlin with me every Sunday night since it premiered, and now he wants to read all about Merlin and Arthur.
Now, you may think this is not such a big deal, but let me tell you, my son is a do-er, first and formost. He’s an active little boy who doesn’t like to waste time reading when there is a baseball to be tossed or a make-shift ramp to ride his bike over. The very fact that he wanted to pick out a book to read thrilled me to no end. And not just one book, he found three! This little guy, who hasn’t kept still since he was still in the womb, stuck his pointy, sloaping, little nose into his books, when we got home, and didn’t come out until he had finished them, cover to cover. Granted, they were short stories, but it was a start! He was reading.
My daughter, by contrast, is a bookworm. She’s my Hermione Granger. Her candy store is Borders and her playground is our local library. She doesn’t need much motivation to get her to read. She’s 12 years old and reads at a 10th grade level. With her, it’s what she reads that influences what she wants to see on the screen. She read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings before watching the films. She’s added Jane Austen to her list because she watched Pride and Prejudice and Emma on television.
The two avenues of entertainment compliment each other so well. They’ve been together for many, many years, and have had a very successful relationship. So why is it that Hollywood can’t seem to come up with anything other than sequels or remakes? There are so many wonderful stories sitting on bookshelves around the world that are waiting to be made. Crying out to be made into a movie or tv series. To be fair, I think Hollywood is slowly beginning to move in that general direction. What a delight when The Secret Life of Bees was released. I was tickled pink when they made Confessions of a Shopaholic into a movie. My kids were thrilled at Horton Hears A Who!. And now, as my son and I waited with bated breath for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night, we saw the trailer for a new movie, due out this October, called Where the Wild Things Are, bbased on a children’s book written by Maurice Sendak. My son did not exhale until after the trailer ended, and his eyes were as big as saucers.
I know there have already been many great books that have made it to the silver screen. But instead of yet another version of Saw, or a remake of a movie that was gold when it was first made, let’s get out the ole library card and find some new ideas. For now, I’m off to the library to get Where the Wild Things Are for my son.