We used Studio Ghibli's film adaptations of beloved children's books for a high school introduction to comparative literature. Here's how we did it — and how you can, too, no curriculum required.
Our 9th grade homeschool reading list is heavy on U.S. history and literature, with an effort to bring in diverse voices and stories. (Plus lots of physical science and a Studio Ghibli lit class!)
You don’t have to choose between the book and the movie in these terrific adaptations—enjoy them both. We’ve rounded up some book-and-a-movie combos perfect for cold weather marathon sessions.
The film version gets the full Hollywood treatment (star Elizabeth Taylor definitely doesn’t have book-Velvet’s cottony hair and buck teeth), but it manages to hang onto the story of one stubborn girl’s determination to win a horse race.
Though it wanders from the book’s storyline, Studio Ghibli’s adaptation captures the sheer visual magic of the Borrowers’ tiny world with gorgeous animation.
Shaw’s play may feel like heavy going to readers new to his style, so take advantage of the delightful musical adaptation to appreciate its nuances—and to kick off the never-ending argument of what a happy ending to this story would actually be.
Maria’s quest to save her family from an unfortunate curse is the crux of this fantasy book and movie combo. (The book was J.K. Rowling’s favorite as a child.)
Though not a literal adaptation of the classic fairy tales, this inventive film about the enchantments of imagination, set in an abandoned theater, channels the same storytelling spirit—and may inspire some living room reenactments.
Really, this animated film—about a boy who teaches a warmongering robot how to love—should get more respect than it does—and Hughes’ lyrical storytelling is as memorable as his poetry.
Sherlock Homes sometimes used the alias Basil, so it’s no surprise that’s the name of the Sherlock Holmes of the mouse world, who—accompanied by his biographer/assistant Dawson—solves baffling crimes.
The action moves to New York and there are a few other changes in this lavish adaptation, but it slow-paced, dreamy filmmaking and a terrific Sara Carew make this movie a must-view.
This list was originally published in the winter 2016 issue of home/school/life. Because apparently winter is when we need lots of movie breaks.
We’re taking a break from our weekly pep talks this summer, so for June and July, we’re hooking you up with an over-stuffed monthly pep talk instead.
10 FUN THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH
Set up your telescope on June 3 to see Saturn at its brightest—with a decent telescope, you should be able to see some of the planet’s rings and moons.
June is Camping Month, so pitch a tent in your backyard for an outdoor sleepover. Make s’mores on the grill, put on a flashlight shadow puppet play, and do a little star-gazing.
Take advantage of the sunshine and turn your nature walk into art by making sun prints.
Make sponge balls and have a backyard water battle.
Turn making lemonade into a fun science project.
Celebrate Drive-In Movie Day (June 6) by seeing a movie at a drive-in theater near you.
The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215. Learn more about why this 13th century document still matters today by watching this video lecture from the James Otis Video Lecture collection.
I think we all know the best way to celebrate World Juggling Day (June 18). This video is a great tutorial for newbie jugglers.
To mark Log Cabin Day (on June 26), watch the documentary Alone in the Wilderness, a really fascinating account of a man who left the plugged-in world for the wilderness, building a log cabin and living off the land.
10 IDEAS FOR THIS Month’S DINNERS
When you want to grill but are feeling a little burned out by the same-old dishes, try this linguine with grilled clams and bacon. It’s unexpected and delicious.
If you bought more eggplant than you know what to do with, serve these falafel-stuffed eggplants with tahini sauce and tomato relish.
When the thought of cooking is just too much but everybody is insisting on eating dinner anyway, this chicken and peaches platter requires assembly only.
Mix and match whatever’s in your fridge to make this leftover salads Nicoise.
Anything you serve for dinner will taste better with this arugula, potato, and green bean salad.
This tomato chèvre tart is delicious just out of the oven, but I’ve also been known to eat a cold slice right out of the fridge for breakfast.
If it’s sunny, cook these Thai peanut chicken thighs on the grill; if it’s not, pop them in the oven instead.
Feeling adventurous? This chilled crab and shrimp ramen salad is a staple on restaurant menus all summer long in Japan.
This summer minestrone is easy to adapt—and a delicious way to stretch those first tiny garden harvests.
Also a great way to use that late spring produce: spring vegetable bibimbap.
FOUR GREAT READALOUDS
I feel like book series and summer just go together, so for this list, I’m highlighting the first books in series I think make great readalouds—whether you stop after book one or keep going until the end.
Brian Jacques’ birthday is June 15, and Redwall makes the perfect summer series readaloud: epic adventure, talking animals, and plenty of irresistible characters.
Arietty, Pod, and Homily are just trying to live their lives in a way-too-big-for-them world in The Borrowers. I love the way this book blends matter-of-fact details (like peeling potatoes!) into a fantastic world.
You’ll be captivated by the adventures of Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran and his friends (an enchantress, a bard, a dwarf, and a, um, Gurgi) in The Book of Three, the first book in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.
Cara discovers a magical world full of dragons, dwarves, nightmares, and more when she heads Into the Land of the Unicorns.
ONE THOUGHT TO PONDER