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These Children’s Books Would Be Good on Screen, Too

Young adult adaptations like 'The Hunger Games' have been major successes for Hollywood, but too many series for younger readers are overlooked. When are these classic kids' books going to get some love?
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Do you remember your favorite books from when you were eight years old? Why can’t those books be adapted into TV shows or movies? We’ve already seen tons of young adult series on the big screen, like The Hunger Games and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But it’s much rarer to see a children’s book adaptation–let alone a good one. Here are twelve book series and one standalone book that have great potential to be fantastic shows or movies.

‘Tales of the Frog Princess’ by E.D. Baker

Tales of the Frog Princess series
Bloomsbury Children’s Books | Bloomsbury USA Childrens

In case you didn’t know, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog was loosely based on the first book in this series, The Frog Princess. I loved the movie, but it wasn’t exactly a faithful adaptation of the book. The only thing that was the same was the princess turning into a frog.

Tales of the Frog Princess follows a royal family during different generations encountering magical obstacles. I am holding out hope for the books to get a direct adaptation, this time as a series. There’s so much to explore that a movie just wouldn’t do it justice.

‘Saranormal’ by Phoebe Rivers

Saranormal series
Simon Spotlight

Did you ever watch Ghost Whisperer? This is basically the same premise but for kids. Sara’s been able to talk to ghosts for her entire life, but when she moves to New Jersey, she starts using her abilities to help spirits pass on. The series follows Sara growing up and dealing with personal problems that are relatable to young teenagers.

The Saranormal series isn’t scary, so kids and teens could both enjoy it. Even adults could get into a TV series, especially if they read the books growing up.

‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ by Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant series
HarperCollins

This thriller series follows Skulduggery, a talking “skeleton mage,” and his apprentice detective, Valkyrie Cain, AKA Stephanie Edgley. The first book focuses on Stephanie meeting Skulduggery and embarking on her first mystery adventure with him. The series went on for nine books before a sequel series started in 2017. The latest book was out earlier this year.

There was a film adaptation in the works years ago, but the author pulled the plug because it wasn’t true to his series. In 2019, Landy announced he was working on the screenplay for a film adaptation of the first novel. He said he’s still working on it earlier this year, but I’m hoping he will adapt it into a series instead. It would allow fans to explore the fantasy world more.

‘The Wedding Planner’s Daughter’ by Colleen Murtagh Paratore

The Wedding Planner's Daughter series
Scholastic Press | Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

This was Gilmore Girls for me since I didn’t grow up watching the show. The book series follows Willa Havisham, a bookworm with a wedding planner for a mother. The first three books were marked as “children’s,” but the last three are “young adult.”

If these books were to be adapted, I’d actually like to see them as a series of movies. They could be like a hit like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The series is set in Cape Cod, so you know the scenery would be beautiful.

‘The Mother-Daughter Book Club’ by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Mother-Daughter Book Club series
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Like The Wedding Planner’s Daughter, this has the potential to be the Gilmore Girls for the next generation. The book series follows a group of mothers and daughters who form a book club while dealing with their own problems at home. Each book also showcases one classic novel the club reads together.

The best way to adapt this seven-book series is as a television show. Each book could be a season, giving ample time to focus on each mother-daughter duo and the girls in school. There was an adaptation in the works at one point, but nothing’s been heard since the announcement.

‘The Winnie Years’ by Lauren Myracle

The Winnie Years series
Dutton Books for Young Readers | Puffin Books | Dutton Children’s Books

The Winnie Years is everything Girl Meets World wasn’t. The books follow the ups and downs of Winnie’s life each year, starting at 10 years old and ending at fourteen years. It tackles a lot of issues that kids and young adults face in school and at home.

There’s literally no other way to adapt this book series than a television series. It could be the Boy Meets World of the next generation since Girl Meets World failed so horribly in the 2010s. It could even take on a life of its own and continue past the ending of the books.

‘Main Street’ by Ann M. Martin

Main Street series
Scholastic

For some reason, coming-of-age shows aren’t as popular as they used to be. That’s why Main Street is so needed on TV now. Ann M. Martin wrote The Baby-Sitters Club, so we already know her work can be translated to screen well. I mean, just look at the Netflix adaptation.

Main Street focuses on Flora and Ruby Northrop, who move in with their grandmother after their parents pass away. Their grandmother owns a sewing shop that plays a part in the series. We see the sisters grow up and develop new friendships throughout the books.

‘Beacon Street Girls’ by Annie Bryant

Beacon Street Girls series
Aladdin Publishing

This book series reminded me of The Baby-Sitters Club, but I enjoyed it even more. The girls in Beacon Street Girls have diverse backgrounds that anyone could relate to. The books cover issues girls go through every day, like eating disorders and cyberbullying.

If this series is ever adapted, I hope it’s done at the same level as Netflix’s adaptation of The Baby-Sitters Club. The show was good, and Beacon Street Girls would have a large viewership of young girls tuning in to watch. The series also follows the girls growing up, so the viewership would only grow along with them.

‘How I Survived Middle School’ by Nancy E. Krulik

How I Survived Middle School series
Scholastic

How I Survived Middle School follows Jenny McAffe during her time at Joyce Kilmer Middle School. Each book is really short and easy to read, and it was one of my favorite series growing up. Like The Winnie Years, this could be everything that Girl Meets World wasn’t.

If adapted, I think it would be a great television series. It could be the next generation’s Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. Even though the books are on the shorter side, the show wouldn’t run out of material. There are thirteen books, but plenty of storylines could be extended over several episodes.

‘Black Hollow Lane’ by Julia Nobel

Black Hollow Lane duology
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | Sourcebooks Young Readers

Emmy’s mom shipped her off to Wellsworth, a boarding school, after her father disappeared. She takes some of her father’s things with her to the school, determined to find out what happened. She discovers a secret society that might have contributed to her dad’s disappearance.

The fantasy-mystery duology would do exceptionally well as a movie series or short television series. It could go for two or three seasons, similar to Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s also set in England, so adults and teenagers would tune in just to hear the beautiful accents.

‘Bella at Midnight’ by Diane Stanley

Bella at Midnight book cover
HarperCollins

Did you ever read a book in school and forget about it until adulthood and now can’t stop thinking about it? That’s this book for me. The novel switches perspectives between a few characters. It was the first time I’d ever read a book like this, and it added to the magic of the story.

Bella at Midnight would be a fantastic movie that could top the failed adaptations of Divergent and Percy Jackson. It could attract kids and adults alike to theaters. It was also based on Cinderella, potentially adding to the endless number of movies inspired by the princess.

‘Magic Tree House’ by Mary Pope Osborne

Magic Tree House series
Random House Books for Young Readers

This iconic book series still hasn’t been adapted for television, and that’s a huge shame. There are currently 35 books, with even more titles in the franchise outside of the original series. When it’s finally adapted, each book could last two to three episodes. Basically, it could run forever.

The series has been adapted multiple times for stage performances and once as an anime film. Lionsgate also planned to adapt Christmas in Camelot in 2016, but nothing’s been heard since then. It would also get kids more interested in history and geography.

‘The Kingdom Keepers’ by Ridley Pearson

The Kingdom Keepers series
Disney-Hyperion | Hyperion Book CH | Turtleback Books

Disney literally owns the series; why hasn’t it been made into a television series yet? The House of Mouse almost moved forward with Kevin Smith as the showrunner. Smith tweeted last year, “Then a new exec was put in charge of the app and he killed KK. Said we used too much @Disney IP in one project.”

The series follows five holographic hosts at Disney that turn into real teenagers at night to protect the parks. It could easily be a great live-action series. Who doesn’t love Disney World?