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Lesson Plan

Cover to Cover: Comparing Books to Movies

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Cover to Cover: Comparing Books to Movies

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sharon Roth

Sharon Roth

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Movies can be an integral part of the language arts classroom when they are used in ways that encourage and develop students’ critical thinking. In this activity, students explore matching texts—novels and the movies adapted from them—to develop their analytical strategies. They use graphic organizers to draw comparisons between the two texts and hypothesize about the effect of adaptation. They analyze the differences between the two versions by citing specific adaptations in the film version, indicating the effect of each adaptation on the story, and deciding if they felt the change had a positive effect on the overall story. Students then design new DVD covers and a related insert for the movies, reflecting their response to the movie version.

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  • Grades 6–8 Book and Film List: This text list includes books and their corresponding movies that are appropriate for the middle school classroom.
  • DVD Cover Creator: This online tool allows users to type and illustrate CD and DVD covers and related booklets for liner notes and other information.

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Movies have long been a part of the educational setting, but they can take on the role as simple entertainment unless teachers develop lessons that ask students to move beyond seeing the film as "just entertainment." Renee Hobbs explains that "When we use film and television in the classroom, it is important to do so in ways that promote active, critical thinking" (48). Hobbs urges teachers to design activities that "engage and motivate reluctant readers, enabling them to build comprehension strategies" (45). As students compare novels and the related film adaptations in this lesson plan, they move beyond simple entertainment to the kind of deeper critical thinking Hobbs advocates.

Further Reading

Hobbs, Renee. "Improving Reading Comprehension by Using Media Literacy Activities." Voices from the Middle 8.4 (May 2001): 44-50.

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