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Books to Read Before They're Movies in 2019

Get the lowdown on books for kids and teens coming to a movie theater near you

Published on: March 08, 2019

kid watching a movie

Hollywood thrives on book adaptations, and this year is no exception. With classics like "Call of the Wild" and "Little Women" and recent teen romances like "The Sun Is Also a Star" and "Five Feet Apart" headed to theaters in 2019, this year's batch of books-turned-movies has us excited. Of course, half the fun of seeing adaptations is the post-credits debate over which was better: the book or the movie. To polish your arguments (or ready your ammunition), check out these books that are headed to the big screen this year (all release dates are subject to change). 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

A 15-year-old aspiring artist named Lina and her family are deported from their comfortable home in Lithuania to a brutal labor camp in 1941 Siberia as Stalin dismantles the Baltic region. Lina struggles to keep her hope and humanity and even finds a sweet romance. 

Who's in it: Bel Powley, Peter Franzen, Sophie Cookson

Why we're excited: This story illuminates an often overlooked chapter in history and was an international best-seller. It's an intense book that promises to be a moving film. 

In theaters Jan. 11, 2019, as "Ashes in the Snow"; targeted to teens and adults. 

A Dog's Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog named Bella gets lost and goes on a 400-mile, two-year journey to find her owner. On the way she faces danger and makes friends — both animal and human.

Who's in it: Bryce Dallas Howard (voice of Bella the dog), Ashley Judd, Alexandra Shipp, Jonah Hauer-King

Why we're excited: Who doesn't love a heartwarming story about a beloved, loyal dog? This one has charmed readers by the millions. Author Cameron and his wife, Cathryn Michon, co-wrote the screenplay, so the movie will hopefully capture the spirit of the book. 

In theaters Jan. 11, 2019; targeted to tweens and families.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

The first book in Cowell's multi-volume series is about young Viking boy Hiccup, who must catch and train a dragon to pass an initiation test.

Who's in it: voices of Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig

Why we're excited: The third film in the "How to Train Your Dragon" trilogy adds an adorable female dragon who's the same breed as Toothless — and could be his mate. But Hiccup must get to the dragons' hidden world before an evil dragon hunter — who might kill them all. The 3-D animation in this series is always amazing. 

In theaters Feb. 22, 2019, as "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"; targeted to kids.

five feet apart coverFive Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

Two teens with cystic fibrosis meet in a hospital and fall in love, but they can't get close enough to touch without risking shortening their young lives.

Who's in it: Cole Sprouse, Hayley Lu Richardson, Parminder Nagra

Why we're excited: Is it this year's "Fault in Our Stars"? Could be. We know teens love a good life-and-death love story, which is what the book is. And it's directed by Justin Baldoni, who played Rafael on "Jane the Virgin,"

In theaters March 15, 2019; targeted to teens.

The Hidden Staircase: Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #2 by Carolyn Keene

After a friend asks 16-year-old sleuth Nancy Drew to check out the ghost that's haunting her great-aunt's mansion, Nancy's dad is kidnapped. Could there be a connection between the ghost and her dad's disappearance?

Who's in it: Sophia Lillis, Laura Wiggins, Andrea Anders.

Why we're excited: Kids have loved Nancy Drew since the first of her mysteries appeared in 1930. This is the second and most popular in the original series (several spin-off series, TV shows and video games followed). The film stars Sophia Lillis, who was in the super scary "It," and it was produced by Ellen Degeneres. We figure Ellen won't let fans down. 

In theaters March 15; targeted to tweens.

A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

This sequel to "A Dog's Purpose" finds the dog Buddy reborn to fulfill his destiny: taking care of baby Clarity, who's now a teenager. 

Who's in it: Dennis Quaid, Betty Gilpin, Josh Gad

Why we're excited: If you loved the first book and/or movie, you should be delighted to spend more time with this constantly reincarnating pup. The spotlight on a teen character should add to the teen appeal. Just be ready to break out the tissues, if it's anything like the first one.

In theaters May 17; targeted to tweens and families.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This romantic coming-of-age story follows two high school seniors — logical, science-oriented Jamaican American Natasha and poet Korean American Daniel — from the moment they meet on the streets of New York City through the 12 fateful hours they spend together.

Who's in it: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, Cathy Shim

Why we're excited: This was one of the biggest young adult books of 2016. The plot hinges on a timely immigration issue: In less than 24 hours, Natasha and her family are scheduled to be deported to Jamaica. What a time to fall in love!

In theaters May 17; targeted to teens.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

A 12-year-old millionaire criminal mastermind takes on the race of fairies to get their gold in this start of a blockbuster seven-volume sci-fi fantasy series.

Who's in it: Hong Chau, Judi Dench, Josh Gad

Why we're excited: This is one of the most popular fantasy series ever. And Kenneth Branagh is directing. 

where'd you go burnadette coverWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

When her anxiety-prone, revolutionary architect mom Bernadette disappears just before a family trip to Antarctica, 15-year-old Bee pieces together emails, FBI documents, secret letters and more to find her. 

Who's in it: Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig

Why we're excited: Semple's best-selling novel is hilarious, with send-ups of helicopter parents and tech gurus, and it explores the mother-daughter bond with wit and insight. The story should be in good hands with director Richard Linklater ("Boyhood," "School of Rock," "Before Sunset") and award-winning actress Blanchett. Linklater also co-wrote the screenplay. 

In theaters Aug. 9; targeted to teens and adults.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

This is a fast-paced, brutal adventure story of a dog's survival in the Canadian Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Sled dog Buck suffers through several harsh owners and survives by getting in touch with his natural wolf instincts. 

Who's in it: Karen Gillan, Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens

Why we're excited: This latest film adaptation of the classic Jack London adventure tale is a big-budget action picture starring Ford as prospector John Thornton. Michael Green ("Logan") wrote the script.

In theaters Dec. 25; targeted to tweens and families.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

In this beloved coming-of-age classic, four sisters grow up in Boston struggling with poverty during and after the Civil War as they wait for their father to return home.

Who's in it: Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern

Why we're excited: This take on Alcott's novel is directed and written by Greta Gerwig, and the amazing cast includes the star of Gerwig's "Lady Bird," Saoirse Ronan, as Jo.

In theaters Dec. 25; targeted to tweens and teens.

Originally published by Common Sense Media

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