"The Hobbit" Book and Animated Movie for Children
A Great Animated Film and Book for Kids
"The Hobbit" was originally written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1937, with several updates made to later editions. Over the years, it has become a beloved work of mythology. Set in what is described as Middle-earth, characters include humans, goblins, giants, dwarves, elves, hobbits, dragons, and many other creatures.
The original book is a fairly long work with very few illustrations. The language is also rather difficult for younger children to understand, written in a wonderful British tone in an older style.
There is an animated film of "The Hobbit" that is very much child-friendly, and there is a movie book that was produced to accompany it. With the release of Peter Jackson's movie adaptations of "The Hobbit," many of us have become inspired (or re-inspired) to share the story with our children. However, Peter Jackson's version is certainly not appropriate for younger audiences.
The animated movie and book offer younger audiences the opportunity to explore the world of Middle-earth at an age-appropriate level. There is violence in the story -- mostly short battles with swords and daggers -- but they are not presented in a gory or graphic manner.
I would recommend the book and film for children four or five years of age and older.
"The Hobbit" Animated Movie
The animated version of "The Hobbit" was released in 1977, and I remember seeing it as a child. The soundtrack features a number of songs, and the music and story have stayed with me over the years.
The violent scenes from the book are dulled in the animated film, making it appropriate for younger audiences to watch. As a parent, I tend to minimize the level of violence and amount of video my sons watch, and I was comfortable with them seeing this movie. (Note that the level of violence in the story of "The Hobbit" is far, far less than in "The Lord of the Rings," the sequel to "The Hobbit.")
My kids were thrilled to watch the film, and I was delighted to be able to watch it with them! (I first showed it to them when they were 8 and 5 years old.)
Peter Jackson is the director of the movie trilogy of "The Hobbit," which is being released during the years of 2012-2014. These are fantastic films for adults and older children. But they are too intense and violent for younger audiences. Because "The Hobbit" is destined to become even more popular over the next number of years with the release of these movies, I am even more grateful to be able to watch the animated version with my children!
I strongly suggest watching the animated film before taking on the book!
"The Lord of the Rings" for Children
You may also enjoy reading my article about the animated movies and storybook of "The Lord of the Rings" for Children.
My sons and I enjoy this epic adventure as well!
The Illustrated Book
The illustrations in this version of "The Hobbit" are images from the animated film. Most pages feature pictures, though some pages are pure text.
The text itself is the actual text of "The Hobbit," written by J.R.R. Tolkien and not a condensed summary written by others. The text is beautiful British prose.
Most younger children would refuse to read this text without pictures. But the compelling illustrations keep their interest and allow them to hear and enjoy the well-written story.
This is not light reading. The book is 220 pages long with three columns of writing per page. Certainly, the pictures take a substantial amount of space, but the reading is dense. Reading it to my younger son as a bedtime story, we get through about 6-10 pages in 20-40 minutes. At such a rate, it takes the better part of a month to read the entire book!
The Illustrated Version of "The Hobbit"
This is the version of the book with images from the animated movie. It is a beautiful book, providing pictures for kids to look at while they listen to the mythological story.
Be certain when ordering this book that it is the version that credits Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass with the illustrations. Otherwise, you may accidentally order a non-illustrated or lightly illustrated version.
Watch the Movie First!
In my article, "The Lord of the RIngs" for Children, I suggest reading the movie book with your child before watching the animated movie.
For "The Hobbit" I recommend doing it the other way around. The book is so very, very long and with such difficult text for young readers that most of them would likely become frustrated and lose interest quickly.
If they watch the movie first, they will have a solid understanding of the plot, helping them to get through the heavy text. And the book's illustrations will trigger memories of the movie and help them figure out what is happening as you read the book to them or as they read it themselves. My kids watched the movie two or three times before we read the book.
Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Our copy of The Hobbit has finally fallen apart!
We Had to Purchase a New Book
After years of reading, our copy of The Hobbit completely fell apart! The pages had been very loose and coming out for some time, but then most of the pages completely fell out of the book!
I had planned on replacing it with another copy of the Rankin and Bass version, but then I stumbled upon a book that is beautifully illustrated by Jemima Catlin.
This is a stunning rendition. It doesn't have as many pictures as the Rankin and Bass book, and the style is not the same as the animated movie, which may deter some first-time readers.
However, the pictures are compelling. The hardcover edition has a wonderful cloth cover, and the cover illustration shimmers where there is gold paint. The pictures in the book are compelling; there is an illustration every few pages, making it an excellent choice for children.
The Hobbit without Illustrations
"The Hobbit" for Children
"The Hobbit" is an incredible work that brings the mythical world of Middle-earth to life. It has been a compelling story for generations.
The animated version of the movie and the illustrated book that accompanies it allow younger audiences to experience this great story at an age-appropriate level.
It has been a joyful experience for me to share both the film and the book with my kids, and I hope that you will have as much fun sharing them with your children!