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Read the Book or Watch the Movie?

The BFG has been in Bangkok theatres for over a week; while Spielberg’s film mostly leaves the basic premise of Roald Dahl’s beloved book intact, it feels as if the film doesn’t quite measure up to the book. First and foremost, the quirky wordplay, one of the most delightful components of the book, doesn’t really make it into the film as the puns are probably too difficult to translate into speech.

That lost “magic” can also be said of the Harry Potter series, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both the original and remake), and other beloved children’s books brought to life on the big screen. Here’re the pros of getting kids to read the book versus (or before) watching the movie.

With books, children can express their imaginations freely; their interpretation of the story is not confined to any one thing. The readers aren’t merely observers – they are feeling everything the main character feels, reading the character’s innermost thoughts, taking on all of their hopes, doubts and fears… in essence, becoming the character themselves.

For something with visual and sound effects, exciting as they may be, films are presenting someone else’s interpretation of the book where the viewer is made to react and feel a certain way. This isn’t to say that movies don’t have their merits – they are purely enjoyable per se. There’s just something missing – the opportunity to be a whole other character in a boundlessly imaginative world.

Characters and plots in books usually have more depth. With access to the protagonists’ internal dialogue, readers have a good sense of the main characters’ feelings and actions, which may not always be the case in a movie. They can also learn some important life lessons. With fast moving action, special effects and stunning aesthetics, it is easy to lose the plot and miss crucial moments of character development in a film.

Books are inexpensive, highly portable and so much more. No need for electricity to power books. Bring them on plane trips or while waiting at the dentist’s office. With books, children have entertainment, language enrichment and a cognitive booster on hand. They’ve got the power to reassess their understanding of reality (and their place within it), which helps develop critical thinking skills.

For Bangkok residents, foster your children’s love of reading at these venues:

  • Little Footsteps, Srinakarin Road
  • Neilson Hays Library, Suriwong Road
  • TK Park, CentralWorld, Rama I Road
  • Lumpini Public Library, Lumpini Park, Rama IV Road
  • Bangkok City Library, Rachadamnoen Road (opening at end of 2016/early 2017)

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