Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Netflix and #KidLit Adaptions

Hello Universe is the newest #kidlit book to be adapted by Netflix.

News recently broke that Netflix had gone on what Publisher’s Weekly called a “buying spree” of book rights. In the past year, the company has purchased the rights to over 50 books. With the imminent arrival of Disney+ (and subsequent exit of all Disney/Marvel/Lucas Film products from Netflix) the streaming giant is on the hunt for original content.

Among the titles are several children’s books: Lois Lowery’s The Willoughby’s will join existing adaption A Series of Unfortunate Events.The company also just announced a film based on Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello Universe, the winner of the 2018 Newbery Award. The film will be produced by Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi, and adapted by the screenwriter of upcoming adult romcom Always Be My Maybe. They’ve also announced a film based on A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini. These are just some of the most recent middle grade adaptations. On the YA side, they’ve had a lot of success with Jenny Han’s To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before and Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’. The sequel to TATBILB, P.S., I Still Love You, just wrapped filming.

Netflix has committed itself to diversity, in both its film making and in its production, and it is thrilling to see books that may have struggled to make it to the screen appear as adaptions on the streaming site. Though I am excited to see these future kidlit adaptions, I am concerned about their accessibility in public libraries. Netflix has done a wonderful job of adapting many novels, and new streaming content based on books will surely bring about a rise in that book’s circulation. At issue is the lost opportunity for librarians. When Netflix buys the rights to turn a book into a movie, the chances are strong that libraries will not have the opportunity to circulate that movie as a DVD, or run a Book to Film club about the film, or screen it at their library. As of now, Netflix doesn’t allow public performance rights of its exclusive content. Though Netflix has 100 million subscribers, everyone who uses the public library does not have a Netflix log in.

What do you do with Netflix-only kidlit adaptations? Are there any you’re particularly excited to see?

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

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