Today is an exciting day for author Stephanie Meyer and fans of her Twilight series. If the words Twilight and Stephanie Meyer don’t ring a bell with you, you’ve either been living under a rock or on another planet. Readers, young and older, are caught up in the relationship of Edward and Bella.
As an author, I freely admit that I dream of the day my books will become movies. I think this is something a lot of authors envision as they sit writing their books. I will go so far as to admit that when I wrote my first book, Freshman Focus in 2003, I visualized the cast and imagined that we would have movie premieres in Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, and Cleveland, Ohio.
I can only imagine the excitement that an author feels when they are advised that his or her book is being optioned to become a movie in addition to the excitement that the author’s readers feel knowing that a book they read is going to become a movie. This year alone we saw young adult titles Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 by Ann Brashares hit the big screen.
A few weeks ago, I walked into Borders and was inundated with copies of Twilight, the soundtrack, and other merchandise on hand to promote the movie’s release. And it hit me, this should be happening to more young adult authors, especially those written by African American authors.
There are so many books written by African American authors that could be optioned into a big screen movie with its very own movie premiere, soundtrack, and all of the other accoutrements that come with a movie debut. If it’s not possible to do a big screen movie, many books could become movies debuting on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or ABC Family similar to the success of the Degrassi, High School Musical and Cheetah Girls franchises.
I wish we still had After School Specials because many books could fill that niche as well.
But instead of ranting on the lack of, I am going to suggest the top five young adult books written by African American authors that I would love to see become a movie, mini-series, or TV show in the next ten years. To be fair, this list excludes the books written by the Brown Bookshelf committee. It goes without saying that our books are ready to become movies post haste.
Will Smith, if you’re out there, instead of the Karate Kid, here are some books that could use Overbrook Entertainment’s touch.
It goes without question that it was difficult to narrow my list down to five choices, but these five reflect a wide diversity of the books currently available for African American young adults.
Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper: Go into almost any school across the country and mention this book and you will see hands shoot up in the air that they read the book and loved it. This book is a teacher’s saving grace with reluctant and avid readers alike. I first heard of the book ten years ago and its popularity has not lessened. This book is overdue to become a movie.
Tyrell by Coe Booth: I read Tyrell earlier this year and it made such an impression on me. Tyrell’s story is captivating, offers such an honest look at male adolescence. Coe Booth’s ability to capture the male point of view is very impressive and I would love to see this story captured on film.
Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams Garcia: This is another book that I read ten years ago that has stayed with me as a book I believe young adults should read. What starts out as a story about teenage pregnancy becomes a story about the importance of knowing our family members and how the lessons our elders teach us have meaning in our lives.
It Chicks by Tia Williams: This was a fun read for me, a bit racy in parts, but I think the story merits being told. Dealing with the complexities of being at a performing arts school set in New York (for my age cohort, think Fame with Debbie Allen), new friendships, and the age old boy/girl relationship dynamics and Tia Williams’ It Chicks would translate very well in movie form and can be followed by her sequel 16 Candles.
Simply Divine by Jacquelin Thomas: With the success of movies by Tyler Perry, TD Jakes, and other films that revolve around a religious theme, it is time to give young adults a spiritual movie outlet as well. I really enjoyed reading Simply Divine and since it is a series, this could be developed in several different ways. I enjoyed the faith in fiction element and I am sure many young adults will enjoy meeting Divine, her parents, and her Georgia family.
So there you have it, my top five choices for books to be optioned into a film version of itself. Now, it’s your turn to sound off on what books you would like to see on the big screen.