My 7 year old son recently watched James and the Giant Peach. He saw it on Netflix and got very excited because his teacher has read the book to his class and he enjoyed it. He did enjoy the movie, but he was a little confused by the differences between the movie and the book. It was a great opportunity to talk about why they have to leave things out of the movie version, and why sometimes they make changes. It was also a good opportunity to point out that the book is almost always better than the movie.
I have more or less come to terms with the fact that the movie version will never be as good. I have mostly learned to judge a movie or television version based on it's own merit and remind myself that the visual is usually inspired by the written, more than a faithful retelling.
As a rabid Charlaine Harris fan, I was so excited for True Blood on HBO. The first season I spent a lot of time obsessing over the differences. I had to watch each episode twice, once to obsess, the second time to just enjoy. Now, at the end of season three, I have learned to enjoy the show on its own merits and spend less time obsessing over the differences.
Usually I prefer to read the book before I see the movie. Occasionally, I do it the other way around. Especially if I saw a book-based movie and it didn't make much sense, or you can feel the gaping holes, I will read the book to try to fill it in.
Of course, one series that I think was equally bad in book and movie form was the Twilight series. I really tried to see what the fuss was about. I did not like the first book, but thought it must get better. It didn't. I can't believe I read all four books. I watched the first movie, I didn't like it either. I haven't seen the subsequent Twilight flicks.
Anyway, I was very excited that my son was learning that books are often superior to movies. He's not a very avid reader yet, but I am hoping to convert him!
I read about this topic on Dorian's World blog and couldn't resist putting in my two cents!