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Compare films with books


Once you have been through the preparing your class exercise, it's a good idea to compare films with books. This exercise draws parallels between printed texts and moving image media and thus strengthens their mutual literacy benefits.

Start with a book the whole class has recently read. Ask them to identify as many things as they can that help tell the story. Everything is useful here:

  • The structure of the text
  • Sentences, paragraphs and chapters
  • Style and appearance
  • Typeface
  • Illustrations inside the book
  • The cover

Write down the answers the children give in a column down one half of the board. Title this column 'Book Story'.

Film story

Now, how would that story be told in a film?

  • What does a film have that the book does not have?
  • What does the book have that a film does not?

Start a new column called 'Film Story'.

Children may well recognise the additional film factors of actors, sound and moving images. They may come up with additional things like special effects. And they could make some obvious and direct correlations such as dialogue as it appears in print, and the spoken word.


Look more closely at how things like structure, style and mood are used to help tell the story in your chosen book:

  • Are the paragraphs and sentences long or short? What effect does this have?
  • Can you find descriptive words that create mood, or help you to understand a character?
  • What happens at the beginning and the end of chapters?
  • Highlight words that convey pace, words that describe movement, light and dark, colours, moods, characteristics and situations - danger, threat and so on.


Ask the class how these might be portrayed in film. Many of the answers may already be there, they'll just need a bit of teasing out: the action will be fast or slow, it will be dark or light, a character might speak rudely, the music might be suspenseful and so on.

You could use the opening of Harry Potter here - it may be the only book the whole class has read, and if they have all read it and seen the film it could be a useful comparison