When I was younger, my mother never lets me watch a movie before I read the book. She insisted that if I watched a movie before I read the book there would be nothing left up to my imagination. Therefore, much to my dismay, I would anxiously turn pages and chapters awaiting the ultimate reward of watching the visual depiction of the words that I had just absorbed.
As a child, I had an insatiable appetite for literature, so naturally, I came across quite a few books-turned-movie that forced my mother to uphold this principle. First with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, later with the Harry Potter series, and even with less well-known books such as the Mary-Kate and Ashley mystery novels (well...to call them novels might be a stretch.)
I still have vivid memories of the first night I watched a Harry Potter movie. I was around 10 years old, fresh out of fifth grade: post-reading all seven books. It was a stormy summer night, my mom ordered us in Chinese food (a rarity in our house), and we snuggled up on the couch to watch JK Rowling's words come alive on a screen. And upon my viewing, I noticed some things:
Hermione's name is pronounced (her-mine-ee) rather than (her-me-own) as my adolescent brain inferred it would be. The characters did, in fact, have an English accent because no matter how many times I thought about the fact that JK Rowling is British, the characters in my head still somehow spoke with a slight New Jersey twang. Finally, Voldemort doesn't have a nose. I honestly don't know if this detail is in the books, but regardless, I was unaware, thus very alarmed when I first caught sight of his movie persona.
So while yes, there were a few miscalculations in the way my mind interpreted the words of the book, I am forever grateful that my mother instilled in me the importance of reading books before watching the movie. Reading the book creates an irreplaceable bond between the audience and the material--one that is not a deep-rooted as would exist if one just watches the movie.
Reading a book first allows you to explore the inner thoughts of a character. It allows you to completely devote yourself to constructing (with the assistance of the author's words) a world that exists in its exact form only in your own mind. It allows you to feel like you truly know the characters you are reading about--they become your enemies, your teachers, your friends. It is truly one of the most magical things I can think of.
So in our current time when the pace that movies are turning into books is increasing by the second, I encourage everyone to read the book before they watch the movie. It is a rarity that a movie is better than a book, and it is impossible that the content will mean as much to the audience if they don't play a part in creating the world in their own mind.