Ah, Roald Dahl, the beloved children’s author who was notorious for his dark sense of humor and uncanny use of horror in his books. His stories are a great introduction to the world of fantasy fiction and can broaden a child’s perspective of the reality in which they live.
Dahl’s books are filled with clever imagination, absurd humor, and his signature silly darkness that can leave quite the impression on young readers. Of course, what’s a story without a movie adaptation? Despite the fact that Dahl was not a fan of the book-to-movie transformations that his stories underwent, most of them are still worth a watch. So you’re probably wondering which Dahl combos are great starts for your youngster? Well, let me recommend these three:
The story of Matilda is definitely one worth knowing and reading (not that anything of Roald Dahl’s isn’t worth checking out, but you know what I mean). Matilda is a prodigal child whose talents and extraordinary intelligence go unnoticed by her wretched, self-centered parents and her psycho schoolmaster. Throughout the story, she is reminded that because she’s small, there’s nothing she can do to change her world around her. With the help of her teacher, Miss Honey, Matilda goes out of her way to prove to the big, bad adults in her life that she is capable of much more. Way more. Matilda teaches kids that no matter their size, they can always find ways to overcome certain obstacles in their life. The film version has become classic over the years and will win the heart of your mischievous little one (it’s also one of my personal favorites!).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
What kid wouldn’t like a book about a chocolate factory? Of course, knowing Roald Dahl there’s more to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory than the sweets. Here, your child will read about what makes a good kid and a bad kid, and the consequences that ensue when you’re a greedy, self-absorbed, spoiled brat. Essentially, your little one will learn about the beauty of karma.
He/she will also come to realize that there are other children who aren’t as fortunate as they are and live in a much harsher reality. Charlie is depicted as a poor boy that lives in a rundown home and his family struggles to make ends meet. In the film adaptations of this book, you can visually see the contrast between Charlie and the other winners. The other kids are dressed in nice, expensive-looking attire (Veruca sports a lavish fur coat) while Charlie is humbly dressed in simple clothes. The book has a darker undertone than the Gene Wilder movie version, but the message comes across loud and clear in both versions – what goes around, comes around.
James and the Giant Peach
In James and the Giant Peach, we see another child who has been put in an unfortunate situation with a bleak outcome. After the death his parents, poor James faces verbal and physical child abuse by his cruel aunts on a daily basis and he has no friends since he’s not allowed to leave the property. Unlike Charlie, James’ outlook on life is pretty depressing. Who can blame him? The kid has no one to show him love and affection, which is what a growing child needs in life.
Like always, Roald Dahl takes his character on an adventure to escape his depressive life with lovable characters who act more like his family than his own aunts ever did. Moral of the story: Blood isn’t always thicker than water. Revenge is much sweeter in the book version, again Dahl always put his dark sense of humor in his writing, but the film version is just as awesome and enjoyable. Kids also learn an extra lesson from the feature film about facing your deepest fears.