2020 TV shows and movies: The children's books to read before they hit your screens

Published on: 26 December 2019 Author: Catriona Wightman

Wondering which TV and movie adaptations of children's books to expect next year? You're in the right place...

The front cover of A Bear Called Paddington

We're still recovering from the brilliant final episode of His Dark Materials and looking forward to seeing Little Women in the cinema... but we're already excited about 2020, because it seems like it has lots of treats in store!

If you want to make sure you've read the books before they hit your screens, check out our guide to what to look out for this year...


Noughts and Crosses (BBC One)

It feels like we've been waiting forever for this, but it looks like Malorie Blackman's iconic tale of Sephy and Callum will finally hit our screens in 2020. Starring Peaky Blinders' Jack Rowan as Callum and newcomer Masali Baduza as Sephy - and featuring a cameo from Malorie Blackman superfan Stormzy - we think this could be a huge hit.

Read our review of Noughts and Crosses

The Adventures of Paddington (Nick Jr)

If you've watched the Paddington movies so many times you can repeat them word-for-word (yes, we may well be speaking from experience) then we have good news: a new animated series is expected on Nick Jr in March. 52 episodes are in the pipeline so there will be plenty of adventures to get stuck into, and what's even more exciting is that Ben Whishaw will be voicing the beloved Bear again. (Oh, and Gary Barlow has written the theme tune!)

Read our review of A Bear Called Paddington

Alex Rider (TBC)

We don't know yet who will be showing the new Alex Rider TV series - or when it will be on our screens - but we do know that it looks like an absolute treat! Based on Anthony Horowitz's brilliant books, the show stars Otto Farrant in the lead role and boasts a supporting cast including Line of Duty's Vicky McClure, Broadchurch's Andrew Buchan and Game of Thrones' Stephen Dillane. Plus, Anthony has said that it's darker and edgier than the 2006 Stormbreaker movie. We're intrigued!

Read our review of Stormbreaker

The Watch (BBC America)

Based on Terry Pratchett's 'City Watch' Discworld novels, this might not exactly be one for young bookworms, but we're very excited anyway! The show is being made by BBC America and should be out there in 2020, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that it makes its way overseas so we can enjoy it too. Expect stars like Anna Chancellor, Richard Dormer and newcomer Sam Adewunmi and - we think - lots and lots of fun.


Dolittle (7 February)

Robert Downey Jr as Doctor Dolittle... really, do we need to say more? Based on The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, we're expecting this to be a fun family adventure as Dolittle sets sail to hunt down a cure for a sick Queen Victoria. Along with on-screen talent like Antonio Banderas, Jessie Buckley, Michael Sheen and Jim Broadbent you can expect animals voiced by the likes of Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Selena Gomez, Tom Holland and even John Cena. We're in!

Read our review of The Story of Doctor Dolittle

The Call of the Wild (14 February)

Based on Jack London's classic novel, this looks like it will be perfect for a February cinema trip! Starring the likes of Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens and Karen Gillan, the story follows the tale of a dog called Buck who is stolen from his home and sold to freight haulers in the Yukon. We think we're probably going to cry.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (27 March)

The first Peter Rabbit movie received some mixed reviews, but we're still looking forward to the sequel. This time around, Peter runs away from home... and meets one of his father's old friends on the road. Expect lots of familiar voices, including James Corden as Peter.

Read our review of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Secret Garden (17 April)

Ooh, we're excited and nervous about this one all at the same time! The 1993 adaptation of The Secret Garden remains really close to our heart, so we're hoping 2020's version matches up. With a cast including Colin Firth and Julie Walters, we think we're going to be in safe hands.

Read our review of The Secret Garden

Artemis Fowl (May)

We don't have a confirmed date for Artemis Fowl yet which is probably just as well: we'd spend all our time counting down! Based on Eoin Colfer's brilliant books, this Disney adaptation is going to bring the beloved tale of criminal masterminds and fairies to the big screen and stars the likes of Judi Dench and Josh Gad (Eoin filmed a cameo, too, so keep an eye out!)

Read our review of Artemis Fowl

The One And Only Ivan (14 August)

Katherine Applegate's novel about a gorilla who lives in a cage in a shopping centre is really special, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the movie adaptation will be a real treat. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston will be playing the shopping centre's owner, while the likes of Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren and Danny DeVito will be providing voices. So that bodes well...

The Witches (16 October)

Anjelica Huston's performance as the Grand High Witch in the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic still gives us the shivers, so Anne Hathaway has some big (and uncomfortable) shoes to fill! She's joined in the cast by incredible stars like Stanley Tucci, Octavia Spencer and Chris Rock and Dahl's book is such a fantastic story that we're already planning our Halloween cinema trip.

Read our review of The Witches

Dragon Rider (TBC)

Based on Cornelia Funke's novel of the same name, this German movie follows a young boy, a dragon and a brownie as they go on a magical journey to find the fabled place where silver dragons can live forever. We don't know when this will make it to UK screens yet, but with a cast including Felicity Jones and Patrick Stewart, we're really hoping we don't have to wait too long!

Read our review of Dragon Rider

Enola Holmes (TBC)

The front cover of Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess

Illustration: Hugh D'Andrade

Ooh, we cannot wait for this one! Based on Nancy Springer's The Enola Holmes Mysteries series, the film follows Sherlock Holmes' 14-year-old sister and we cannot wait to join her adventures. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown will be playing Enola, with Henry Cavill as Sherlock, Sam Claflin as Mycroft and Helena Bonham Carter as their mum Eudoria. Seriously, though, can we watch it now?

Chaos Walking (TBC)

It feels like we've been waiting for this adaptation of Patrick Ness's novels for ages, so hopefully we finally get to feast our eyes on it in 2020! It's another movie with a ridiculously good cast - expect Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, Cynthia Erivo and more - so although it's apparently been through its ups and downs in production, we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Read our review of The Knife of Never Letting Go

Stargirl (TBC)

We're still waiting for Disney's streaming service Disney+ to arrive in the UK – but fingers crossed we have it in time for the arrival of Stargirl! Based on Jerry Spinelli's cult YA novel, it follows the arrival of unique, previously homeschooled new student Stargirl Caraway at an Arizona high school. We're ready for it.

Fear Street (TBC)

Goosebumps not quite scary enough for you? Then strap yourselves in for Fear Street, based on the books by RL Stine. It looks like we'll get not one, not two, but three Fear Street movies next year, each released a month apart. We don't know much more about this one, but we're ready for a bit of a scare...

Which TV shows and movies based on children's books are you looking forward to in 2020? Let us know in the comments below!

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