Why You Need To Read This Incredible Kids Book Before The Movie Comes Out

by Charlotte Ahlin

If you've been living under a proverbial rock, then you may not have heard the news: the Wrinkle in Time movie is actually happening, and it looks pretty spectacular. I know that we've all been burned before with big budget movie adaptations of our favorite children's books, but this time I think that Madeleine L’Engle's brilliant science fiction adventure might be in good hands. The director is Ava DuVernay, of Selma and 13th fame. The cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey. I mean, if we can't trust Oprah with our beloved childhood classics, who can we trust? I, for one, am excited, and I'm reaching for my well-loved L'Engle paperbacks to brush up on the Murry family's story. Here are just a few reasons to re-read A Wrinkle In Time before the movie comes out.

Firstly, if you never got around to reading this book as a kid, it's not too late! Read it for the first time! Even if you read and re-read this book in middle school, and you feel like you know the story backwards and forwards, the genius of L'Engle's writing is that you discover a new depth of meaning every time you pick it up. So find a cozy spot in inter-dimensional time-space, get comfortable, and re-read A Wrinkle in Time before the movie comes out:


Meg Murry is the best

Even as an adult, the nerdy teen girl inside me still identifies strongly with Meg Murry. She's smart, but she doesn't really know how to use her own brainpower. She's awkward and weird, she lacks the confidence of a Katniss or a Hermione, she loves her family and she's just so real. Back when the vast majority of kids' book protagonists were athletic little boys, Meg was a beacon for all the math-minded, shy little girls out there.


The science is genuinely interesting

Yes, sure, there's a fair amount of magic (or magic-adjacent) stuff going on in A Wrinkle in Time. But there's also a lot of genuine science behind the eccentric celestial women and the space travel. L'Engle was inspired by Einstein's writing on non-linear time and cosmology. As she puts it, “one cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life."


...and it’s inspired real science

L'Engle wasn't only inspired by real science, her books inspired real scientists, too. Mathematician and astronaut Janice Voss was heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, and actually brought the book to space with her on one of her flights. There's also a crater on Mercury named L'Engle in honor of the writer's impact on both science fiction and science fact.


It’s a frequently banned book

If you haven't re-read A Wrinkle in Time because you remember it as a sweet, simple kids' book, think again. It's one of the most frequently banned books of all time. It has been criticized as being both too Christian and not Christian enough—L'Engle has been accused of promoting an "occultist" worldview because of her liberal take on Christianity. She believed in universal salvation, or the idea that all people deserve love and redemption, regardless of their mistakes or personal beliefs. So if you like controversial literature, check out A Wrinkle in Time, which keeps getting banned for promoting kindness and love.


It almost wasn’t published

Not only has A Wrinkle in Time been banned all over the place, it almost wasn't published at all. The book was rejected 26 times by publishers, who didn't quite know how to categorize it. Was it for kids or adults? Sci-fi or fantasy? L'Engle just kept insisting that her writing was for everyone, regardless of age or genre, and the publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally decided to take a gamble on her weird, intellectual little book.


It was a huge feminist breakthrough

Publishers were also put off by the idea of a young girl as a sci-fi protagonist. That just wasn't as much of a thing back in the early 60's. But L'Engle stuck with Meg as her heroine, and helped pave the way for all the tough young women heading YA series today.


There’s a whole series

If you're looking for a smart new sci-fi series to get lost in, just read the sequels to A Wrinkle in Time. It's the first book of five. The Time Quintet series is well-loved among sci-fi fans, but a lot of us only ever read the first book in school. L'Engle's sequels are just as dazzling, strange, and brilliant, and the whole series is well worth re-reading as you emotionally prepare to see Meg Murry and her adventures on the big screen.


It marries science and spirituality

If you like science, you'll love the experimental physics in A Wrinkle in Time. If you like spirituality, you'll love the philosophy of kindness in A Wrinkle in Time. L'Engle understood that spiritual beliefs and quantum physics aren't mutually exclusive. They might even overlap. Her books are both an inspiration to learn more about far-off worlds and space-time, and an inspiration to be a better person now, on this planet.


The movie looks pretty darn great

I don't want to jinx anything, but the movie actually looks like it might be pretty great. And you don't want to be that one guy who doesn't remember the books well enough to have an opinion on the film adaptation.


It’s a rare book that both children and adults can enjoy

Too often, we stop ourselves from revisiting beloved childhood books because, well... they're from our childhoods. Surely we're too old for them now. But when it comes to A Wrinkle in Time, there's no aging out of the story: it only grows deeper, more complex, every time you read it. It has all the adventure and growing pains of a great kids' book, and all the scientific, philosophical questioning of a major work of adult literature. It's comforting and challenging and beautiful, all at once. And it's a must-read, whether it's for the first time or the one-hundred-and-first.