5 Childhood Animated Films (That Are Actually Based On Books)

Almost everyone has seen the movies on the list, but most probably don’t know that they were based on books first. The book to movie adaptation started happening a long time ago, with animated films. There are a couple of things you notice when you re-watch a childhood film you loved. Firstly, the topics were a lot more lenient, and therefore a lot darker. Death, witchcraft, animal abuse, racial stereotypes. It is sometimes hard to believe they were meant for young tiny children. (I am kind of scared to read the books and find out what tales the stories originally told.)

101 Dalmatians

We have all seen the great Disney movie that warmed our hearts and opened our eyes to the cuteness of Dalmatians. But most people don’t know that, the movie we grew up loving, was actually based on a novel.

The novel of the same name was released in 1956, by Dodie Smith and she even wrote a sequel. Surprisingly, the movie followed the plot pretty closely, even included the place of Hell Hall from the book.

Who would have thought a movie about skinning young puppies to make a coat would have ever become so lovable?


If you don’t cry during Bambi, you are not human. If that includes you Cyberman (that’s right, it’s a Doctor Who reference) then don’t read any further about this movie.

Still here? Ok, so this movie is actually based on an Austrian novel by writer, Felix Salten in 1923. It was translated and brought to the states in 1928. It seemed it was almost immediately considered a classic.

The Disney film that produced waterworks all over the globe, was released almost twenty years after it was written, in 1942.

Many believe the novel was one of the first environmental novels written, so good luck NOT noticing the (not so) vague symbolism within the pages.


A few weeks ago, my significant other came home from his job humming a tune that was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place it. He told me it was the “Elephants on Parade” song from the Disney movie. And I thought, “Damn, it has been a while since I watched that movie”.

I looked it up and found out, it is actually based on a storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl for something called a “Roll-A-Book”. I am not sure what that is, but either way.

I am surprised this movie was even made the way it was, however, because of the extreme stereotyping of the characters. While some of it maybe overreacting, I think naming the head crow (voiced by an African American) “Jim Crow” was pretty terrible.

The Iron Giant

This is a newer entry on this list and also not a Disney movie. But it was an animated film I watched relentlessly.

It turns out that it is based on a novel as well, called The Iron Man. It is pretty understandable why they had to change the name of the film version. Many a comic book fan would have headed to the theater and been disappointed otherwise.

Surprisingly, there was sequel written called, The Iron Woman, and presented a more environmentally themed story surrounded pollution. American wasn’t ready to have our destructive nature forced in front of our faces yet and wasn’t optioned into films.

We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

OMG, this movie. I LOVED this movie. (So much so I bought it recently from a used movie/book store). I must have watched it a million times. What little girl doesn’t love a movie about dinosaurs? Oh wait, that was just me.

The Steven Spielberg film was based on the children’s book written by Hudson Talbott.

I never realized till I watched it as an adult, but this is a pretty violent and dark movie that is hard to believe was meant for young children. I mean without the brain grain cereal, the dinosaurs are bloodthirsty beasts. And there is a creepy old man missing an eye. Oh yeah, and they have to sign their contract in blood. Couldn’t get weirder right? Wrong, because there is also hypnosis, a sad clown, and an interspecies love in between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a flying dinosaur, the Pterandon.

But for some reason, I continue to love this film.


These are all great movies, and I am sure they are great book too (although I might not ever read them in fear they will taint the image I have of the movie). But I am always surprised by the apparent lack of attention span kids used to have with the movies on here barely passing the hour-long mark.

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