7 More Sob-Inducing Books That Deserve to Be Made into Movies

Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, the emotional bestseller that brought countless fans to tears, hits theaters across the country this week. On June 3rd many of us will be seen walking out of movie theaters with red-rimmed eyes and all the feels, glad to have been able to spend some time with Louisa and Will and to witness their unexpected love story on the big screen. Books and movies that have the ability to bring fans to tears often stay with us long after we have experienced them. If you enjoyed the Me Before You or the book (or film adaptations of) The Fault in Our Starsor Wildyou may also find yourself hoping for movie adaptions a few of the books below as well. Make it happen, Hollywood!

 

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
Everything changes for Cadence Sinclair during her fifteenth summer at her family’s beach. As Cadence struggles with memory loss, physical injuries, and a secret that no one is willing to share, she is also growing into adulthood. After spending the next summer in Europe, and then finally returning to the family’s beloved summer house on the island, Cadence has to face some harsh realities about herself and her cousins. In much the same vein as the twisty Gone Girl, readers will find themselves by turns sad, frustrated, amazed, and shocked. It’s nearly impossible to read this book without having some strong feelings, and a movie adaption would be irresistible.

 

A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive, by Dave Pelzer
I wept, a lot, while reading Dave Pelter series of memoirs. At turns devastating and hopeful, producers could film a heck of a tearjerking masterpiece of Oscar material with this set of books. Why this material hasn’t yet been tapped for a movie is almost inexplicable. Depicting Pelzer’s journey from an abused child to an adult who has to learn to cope with his terrible past, and eventually to thrive, is as heartbreaking as it is inspirational. A film that blends the realism of Wild with the elements of a damaged childhood like Room would no doubt rack up some nominations…and plenty of drenched hankies.

 

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
Granted, there is a Bell Jar film from 1979. There is also the Gwyneth Paltrow/Daniel Craig film Sylvia, which loosely covers the author’s more autobiographical material. But a real, gritty, earnest look at the health care system and the borderline torture that Esther Greenwood underwent during a mental breakdown in the 1950s would make for a devastating film. This novel, which explores the pangs of teenage love and rejection, along with the pressures to achieve perfection in a competitive world, is timeless — maybe even more so today.

 

Looking For Alaska Special 10th Anniversary Edition, by John Green
John Green is the brains behind many of our beloved sob-inducing books and movies like Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars, and Looking For Alaskawas his first novel. Miles Halter is a high school junior, with a penchant for darkness, who is on his way to a new boarding school. As he takes on new friends Chip “The Colonel” Martin, and Takumi Hirohito, along with crush Alaska Young, the journey unfolds into a series of pranks and personal revelations. The more that each character reveals, the more readers begin to worry. The end, which I won’t spoil here, is a heartbreaking series of events that places it among the ranks of A Separate Peace (another must read weepy classic) and Me Before You.

 

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
Just ask any parent the last time they cried over a children’s book and you will mostly definitely hear someone say The Giving Tree. From the master of poignant children’s literature, this classic tale of self sacrifice to one’s children will make you cry every single time. And not just cry, I mean Dawson’s Creek ugly face cry crying. Given its brevity, the book may be hard to adapt, but if Hollywood can turn Where the Wild Things Are into an emotional film about parenting and birth, than I have faith that we will all be sitting together crying about The Giving Tree one day. I’ll save you a seat.

 

Wonder (B&N Exclusive Edition), by R. J. Palacio
A film based on Wonder is currently in production, and it is no surprise, seeing as this is a beautiful novel that is beloved by kids and adults alike. The story of middle grade boy with birth defects that leave him extremely disfigured, and the struggles he has while attending school for the first time, is a universal tear jerker. Who hasn’t felt out of place, or longed for acceptance in some way? Who hasn’t been betrayed, fought for, or lost a friend? Despite its middle grade labeling, all readers can find something of themselves in main character Auggie. In the same way that The Lovely Bones and The Fault in Our Stars touched fans of all ages, this movie could be popular among all ages.

 

The Still Point of the Turning World, by Emily Rapp
Emily Rapp’s second memoir is a book like few others. At six months old her son Ronan was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, an always fatal genetic disorder. In an attempt to find a path in a world that no parent ever expects to inhabit, Rapp takes readers through the emotional, physical, and intellectual stages of grief. Readers also are shown the absolute beauty in loving the small things, in embracing the entirety of life. More than story of grief though, this is a story of fierce — even staggering — unconditional love.

Which beautiful, sad, books do you want to see in theaters?

Magnificent Middle Grade Poetry for National Poetry Month

Rhyme lovers of every age, rejoice, for April is National Poetry Month! We all know that little readers love silly sing song poems, and adults can get lost in the emotions of a good poetry collection, but what about middle graders? Wonderfully, middle grade readers get the best of both poetry worlds, with plenty of funny collections, serious books, and ageless crossovers that can enjoyed all month (and beyond!).

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Illustrated Edition, by T. S. Eliot, with drawings by Edward Gorey

 T.S. Eliot’s tale of stray cats and their nighttime wanderings has been retold for years, most notably as the Broadway show Cats. Made up of 14 poems, that are both very real and completely unbelievable, readers can enjoy the cat phenomenon the way it was before memes took over the internet. Books like this one are a great bridge between the funny sounds of younger books and the more serious fare of adult lit, but still 100% awesome poetry.

Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking, by Alan Katz, with drawings by Edward Koren

 A silly take on the mischievous, these poems are just plain fun. Katz is also the author of the charming The Day the Mustache Took Over, among many other books, so he definitely gets middle grade humor. Whether read out loud together, or alone while tucked away in a cozy spot, these bits of verse show that there is a lot more to poetry than serious thoughts and beautiful landscapes. Make sure you have some tissues on hand though — you will be laughing until you cry.

Because I Could Not Stop My Bike … and Other Poems, by Karen Jo Shapiro, illustrated by Matt Faulkner

 This super smart collection is a modern twist on classic poems. From William Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson, kids won’t even realize they are reading funny takes on the works of some of the world’s most famous poets. Faulkner’s zany illustrations take this book to a whole other enjoyable level. It won’t be until later, when your kids recognize the rhyme and meter of the poems in their textbooks, that they will catch on that you had them reading classic poetry in junior high. This book is so clever that you will probably find yourself reading it, and falling in love with poetry all over again.

Neighborhood Odes, by Gary Soto, illustrated by David Diaz

 Gary Soto and David Diaz take the small moments of childhood, the beautiful little event that stick, and present them in a way that readers of all ages can love. Parties and pets, family celebrations and long summer afternoons all get the thoughtful treatment that Soto is known for, and the simple black and white illustrations are frame-worthy. This book is a terrific addition to any middle grade reader’s collection, as it will probably turn out to be one of their favorite books — both now and later.

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein

 An ageless classic that can be read in elementary school, laughed over in middle school, and reminisced about as an adult, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a childhood-defining collection of poetry. The rhymes are silly, the illustrations create a fully fleshed out world, and the quiet meanings can bring adults to tears. Shel Silverstein is a master like no other and the beauty of his writing makes him a must read, and not just in April, but all year long. After your kids have devoured this book, grab A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and Everything On It for years — really, years — of amazing poetry experiences.

Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, by Billy Collins

 For a slightly different twist to your National Poetry Month reading, tackle Billy Collins’s collection, Poetry 180. Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001–2003, put together this collection, and its sequel 180 More, to introduce school-aged students to modern poets. His idea is that students should have a love of poetry first; poetry that is written in modern language kids can understand, before jumping into the classics. Given this idea, this book contains 180 poems, one for each day of the school year, from some of the biggest names in contemporary poetry. Before you know it your kids will have a new favorite poet, be it Lucille Clifton, Kenneth Koch, Philip Levine, or Naomi Shihab Nye.

What poetry does your middle grader love to read?

Originally published at www.barnesandnoble.com on April 7, 2016.

7 Classic Children’s Books that Modern Kids Will Adore

As long as there have been books, there have been parents who can’t wait to share their favorites with their own children. When my brother and I were small, I remember my mom reading her favorite Nancy Drew mysteries to us one chapter at a time, and us begging her to read just one more. What else can a parent ask for than that; the chance to share the gift of a good story and to bond over a classic? (Or, you know, maybe the occasional chance to take a bath without someone knocking on the door.)

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams and William Nicholson
Originally published in 1922, this ultimate tale of love and hope will show kids the magic in their toys. And it will bring parents to tears. With gorgeous, gentle illustrations and a story that is just as accessible today was it was in the ’20s, this is a bookshelf staple. Kids who are attached to their toys, kids who have to let go of something, and kids who have experienced a lengthy illness will especially find happiness and comfort in Williams’ must-read classic.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh, by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard
No childhood is complete without Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet. The sheer number of revisits, movies, and other related media (including the 2016 Caldecott Medal-winning Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear) that have come from the original publishing of Winnie-The-Pooh are testament enough to the beautiful staying power of the Hundred Acre Woods. Pooh’s charming innocence and naiveté, Eeyore’s grumpiness, and Tigger’s boundless energy all reflect attitudes and emotions that children can strongly relate to. This series began in 1926 in England and has never lost its magic.

The American Boy’s Handy Book, by Daniel C. Beard
The ultimate 1882 handbook for outdoor adventures is a fit for every rough and tumble kid in 2016. The title may say that it was created for boys, but with instructions on how to build and fly kites, go fishing, blow soap bubbles, and track animals, there is a something for all children. Even if you are raising a future outdoor aficionado in a big city, kids will still love to read about all of the possible adventures out in the big wide world. We may not be hunting and trapping today, but our love of nature and adventure hasn’t changed.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, by Carolyn Keene
In 1930 publisher Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew, and ever since a series of authors has taken this intrepid detective on countless mysteries under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Major female figures have cited Nancy as a role model in their childhood, and critics has applauded the series’ staying power. This early feminist idol, her tenacity, and her brave adventures, is just as exciting for boys, girls, and parents today as she was over 80 years ago.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater, Florence Atwater, and Robert Lawson
Mr. Popper came back recently in a live action movie, but his original story was published in 1938. The tale of a painter, his dreams, and his growing brood of penguins that came to live with his family is an all time classic. Kids of all ages love penguins, that seems to be a universal fact, and everyone loves it when penguins get into mischief. The funny wordplay, the silly situations, and the dreams of Mr. Popper are infectious, and this story will easily become a bedtime favorite among modern children.

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
If The Velveteen Rabbit doesn’t bring you to tears, then this 1964 classic will. The story is a stunning metaphor for generosity, love, and the power of selflessness, and parents will see themselves on every page. Kids may not be as deeply affected by the metaphor as parents, but they will understand the power of the tree and the amazing transformation it undergoes. This timeless story can also be used to discuss the evolution of fruit trees, the uses of wood, and the cycle of life. Basically, Shel Silverstein is a genius.

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery, by Deborah Howe, James Howe, and Alan Daniel
This 1979 chapter book was personal favorite of mine when I was a kid, and I can’t wait to read it to my daughter. Chester the cat and Harold the dog have to work together to solve the mystery that is causing the household food to turn white, and contend with the family’s new pet rabbit. The four-legged sleuths will become your young readers’ favorite heroes as they work to get to the bottom of the mystery. The series continues with Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and others, so you are absolutely going to have hours of pet detective work ahead of you.

What treasured childhood books are you excited to share with your children?

Originally published at www.barnesandnoble.com on February 4, 2016.