In 1913, Robert W. Neal wrote an article, "Making the Devil Useful," for the English Journal, where he took a controversial stand on movies, which were considered a major time-waster for young people.
Neal advocated that movies were ". . . here to stay and we shall have to make the best of them. . . ."Certainly that was not a popular belief, even though he provided advice for reviewing films that would be suitable for use in schools.
Twenty years later, Hardy Finch continued support for films as a viable media for use in the classroom. "We continue to teach our standards of evaluation in the drama and to ignore the cinema, and our pupils continue to patronize the cinemas and to ignore the drama. We must adapt our literature and composition courses in such a manner that adequate recognition is given to the fact that there are some genuine needs to be met. . . ."
While some hesitation continues to exist about the proliferation of films and their possibility of being deleterious to time spent in reading, professors Alleen Nilsen and Kenneth Donelson suggest that it is not true that if young people see a film they won't read the book. Prob-a-bly the opposite is true.
Many books on the best seller lists are those previously appearing in films. They remind the reader (young and old) that while books and films may be available, they need to be evaluated on their own merits and criteria. In the case of visual media, consideration should be given to accuracy of information, complete coverage of the subject - as in the case of nonfiction - and development of visuals and value beyond just being commercial.
Following are a few examples of books that have a media tie-in:
As people rush to see and own the landmark motion picture "Titanic," there has been a plethora of books on the subject. "SOS Titanic," a picture book by Eve Bunting (Harcourt) was included in an issue of Entertainment Weekly as part of an article on Titanic mania sweeping the country.
Other titles of interest are "Survival Titanic" by K. Duey and K.A. Bale (Aladdin Paperbacks) and two published by Scholastic "Back to the Titanic!" by Beatrice Gormley and "Titanic: The Long Night" by Diane Hoh. My favorite is "Titanic Crossing" by Barbara Williams (Dial). You can't consider the topic of the Titanic without some of the glitz that is attached.
One example is a paperback, "Lovin' Leo: Your Leonard DiCaprio Keepsake Scrapbook" (Scholastic), with 48 pages of color photos. That really has been a hit!
Four books for young readers have accompanied Stephen Spiel-berg's latest film, "Amistad."
"Freedom's Sons: A True Story of the Amistad Mutiny" by Suzanne Jurmain (Lothrop) is based on documentary material, much of which appeared in "The Colored American," one of the first U.S. newspapers published and edited by African-Americans. "Amistad: A Long Road to Freedom" by Walter Dean Myers (Dutton) is also enhanced with photos, maps and dates from history. Joyce Annette Barnes' "Amistad" (Puffin Paperback) is a junior novel based on the screenplay with full-color photos from the film. "Amistad Rising: A Story of Freedom" (Harcourt) is a picture book written by Veronica Chambers and illustrated in acrylics by Paul Lee.
TV and music stars such as the Hansons, Garth Brooks and others have received wide attention with the books attached to their videos.
Scholastic Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. have collaborated on books based on the next three "Star Wars" movies. The popularity of the Star Wars trilogy books has resulted in the recent "Star Wars Journals," which include commentary from Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. These three are intended to be prequels to the trilogy.