From sweet children's classics to edge-of-your seat dystopian thrillers to swoon-worthy romances, movie adaptations of kids' and teen books in 2016 are likely to be big box-office draws for families. If you or your kids like to read 'em before you see 'em, here's a list to help you get ready between January and next Christmas.
"The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey (in theaters Jan. 15; targeted to teens) An alien invasion has killed most of humanity in this intense science-fiction adventure set during the invasion's aftermath. Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz), on a quest to reunite with her little brother, is wounded and nursed back to health by a mysterious stranger, Evan Walker (Alex Roe). But the invaders are planning a new level of treachery that threatens to destroy every last human survivor.
"The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks (in theaters Feb. 5; targeted to teens) Two next-door neighbors in North Carolina—local veterinarian Travis (Benjamin Walker) and newly arrived physician's assistant Gabby (Teresa Palmer)—butt heads over a dog. Then they fall for each other. The only snag: She's already got a longtime boyfriend. "The Choice" is by the author of "The Notebook," so you might want to stock up on tissues.
"The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katherine Paterson (in theaters Feb. 19; targeted to kids) Gilly Hopkins is one tough cookie—she beats up boys and terrorizes her teachers and foster parents. But she meets her match in Mrs. Trotter, whose strongest weapon is unconditional love. The film adaptation of this Newbery Honor book stars Sophie Nélisse ("The Book Thief") as Gilly and Kathy Bates as Mrs. Trotter.
"Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes (in theaters March 4; targeted to teens) A girl (Emilia Clarke) in a tiny English town becomes the caretaker of an adventurer who was left a quadriplegic (Sam Claflin) after an accident. He's bent on assisted suicide, while she aims to give him something to live for. Their transformative relationship keeps the novel from becoming maudlin; hopefully, the movie can maintain that balance.
"Allegiant: Divergent, Book 3" by Veronica Roth (in theaters March 18; targeted to teens) This final installment in the "Divergent" series picks up where "Insurgent" left off: The Factionless, led by Tobias' mother, Evelyn, have emerged victorious, but a band of revolutionary dissenters called the Allegiant hopes to depose Evelyn and reinstate a kinder, gentler form of faction rule. The novel is told in alternating points of view between Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Tobias (Theo James), so it will be interesting to see how the film reflects that.
"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (in theaters March 18; targeted to kids) This classic fable about a pilot who encounters a planet-hopping prince in the Sahara Desert is a lyrical meditation on love and friendship, translated from the original French. Though it looks like a kids' book—and has no material that's inappropriate for elementary school-age kids—the book's critique of adult behavior and nostalgia for childhood may be better suited to older readers. The animated adaptation frames the tale of the Aviator and the Little Prince with the story of a little girl (voiced by Mackenzie Foy) and her eccentric older neighbor (voiced by Jeff Bridges).
"The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling (in theaters April 15; targeted to kids) Rudyard Kipling's book of short stories "The Jungle Book" is far less whimsical (and musical) than Disney's classic animated film, and it includes stories with central characters other than Mowgli, the "mancub" raised by wolves and befriended by Baloo the bear. These wonderful stories, which alternate with lyrical poems about the characters, depict a complex and sometimes dangerous natural world in which creatures must respect the "ways of the jungle" to coexist. The film reboot, which blends sophisticated animation and live action, includes characters voiced by Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Bill Murray (Baloo), and Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), to name a few.
"The BFG" by Roald Dahl (in theaters July 1; targeted to kids) A popular choice for beginning chapter-book readers, "The BFG" is a fun fantasy about a Big Friendly Giant (BFG) who prowls British streets blowing dreams into children's minds. After he plucks young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) out of her orphanage, she hatches a plan for him to stop the not-friendly giants who eat children. Wacky wordplay makes the book a great read-aloud. Steven Spielberg directs.
"Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs (in theaters July 1; targeted to teens) The first book in the multivolume Tarzan series introduces readers to an English boy raised by apes in the African jungle after his parents are killed. The film "The Legend of Tarzan," starring Alexander Skarsgard as the vine-swinging hunk, follows Tarzan's adventures after he's called back from his home in London to investigate a mining operation. The original novel, while viewed as a classic, features lurid human and animal violence, as well as racial and gender stereotypes that make it ripe for discussion from our 21st-century perspective.
"A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness (in theaters Oct. 17; targeted to teens) A giant yew tree haunts a boy dealing with his mother's terminal illness in this moving story of love and loss, amplified by Jim Kay's dramatic pen-and-ink illustrations. Menacing but also protective, fierce, and funny, the tree makes young Conor's pain more bearable by giving him something tangible to fight against. The movie stars Liam Neeson as the Monster, Lewis MacDougall as Conor, Felicity Jones as his mum, and Sigourney Weaver as Grandma.
"Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them" by J.K. Rowling (in theaters Nov. 18; targeted to kids) Rowling's short book (adapted as "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them") purports to be a Hogwarts textbook that describes various beasts and dragons but doesn't tell a story. For the film, which stars Eddie Redmayne as textbook author Newt Scamander, Rowling wrote an original story about Scamander's adventures in New York's secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter first arrived at Hogwarts.