It’s the time of year where everyone begins to prepare to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. There’s probably no truer year for that than this one. Despite 2020 offering some excellent YA books to movies, 2021 YA books–to–movies are going to be adding even more depth to the world of great adaptations.
Though this list is incomplete and doesn’t capture the potential adaptations coming later in 2021, it offers a look at the 2021 YA books–to–movies you’ll want to pop onto your to-be-read and to-be-watched lists. There’s something here for everyone, from classics to award-winners and new titles.
Included here are both streaming shows and stand-alone films. Trailers, the film’s inspiration if the title differs from the book, and a short description are included below, with tentative release dates, formats, and the services which will host them. Note that some of these do not yet have release dates but are included because filming is complete or in post-production, meaning news about when you can see them should be forthcoming. Likewise, given the realities of movie theaters at this time, some of the films slated for the big screen or nationwide releases may not run as anticipated.
As has been the case, this is a very white-authored list. More books by authors of color have been optioned in recent years, though, so the chances we see more of those come to realization, the better inclusivity these adaptations will showcase.
2021 YA Books to Movies To Get Excited About
As of this writing, there’s not yet a release date for Butter, based on the novel by Erin Jade Lange. The film has made the festival circuit, though, so chances are we’ll hear about this one and see a trailer as 2021 progresses. Butter follows a fat boy who decides to eat himself to death on live camera. Expecting his classmates to discourage him, he finds the opposite—they’re tuning in and unable to see the real mental health challenges facing Butter.
Chaos Walking: Theaters, January 22
After years of setbacks, Chaos Walking will finally be available for viewers. The film is based on the first book of Patrick Ness’s trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go. It’s a dystopian tale of a world without women and where images, words, and sounds are how living creatures hear one another’s thoughts.
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets: Video on Demand, January 12
The adaptation of award-winning author Evan Roskos‘s book was years in the making, but it’ll be available on demand in early 2021. When James’s sister disappears, he seeks out the help of an imaginary therapist called Dr. Bird—yes, in the form of a pigeon—to help him work through his anxiety and depression.
Fear Street Trilogy: Netflix, Summer 2021
Releasing over the course of three months, RL Stine’s classic Fear Street teen screams will hit Netflix. These stories follow murder mysteries in the not-quite-quaint town of Shadyside, Ohio.
Finding You: Theaters, January 29
In this romantic story based on the book There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, aspiring violinist Finley finds herself on the Irish coast for a semester abroad and meets a famous movie star named Beckett. Together they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves possible until his stardom intervenes.
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between
Not much information is available yet about the release of this film based on Jennifer E. Smith other than it’s in post-production. Chances are we’ll hear news about this story about high school sweethearts recounting their relationship on the night before they leave for college in the coming months.
The Midnight Club: Netflix
Netflix is coming hard for ’90s teen horror in 2021, and while there’s not yet a release date, it’s anticipated that Christopher Pike’s The Midnight Club will land sometime in the next year. This will be a series and play with storylines from additional Pike books.
Monster/All Rise: Netflix
Two years after getting rave reviews from critics on the film festival circuit, Walter Dean Myers’s essential novel Monster was finally picked up by Netflix. Originally called All Rise, by all reports it sounds like when Netflix releases the film in the coming year it’ll be back to its original title, Monster. The story follows 17-year-old Steve Harmon, charged with felony murder, and the back story to how he found himself labeled “Monster,” and whether or not this charge is true. A brutal and necessary look at racial injustice within the U.S. justice system.
Based on the book by Jennifer Mathieu, the adaptation rights were scooped up by Amy Poehler. There’s no official release date yet, but the film status is “completed.” Moxie is the story of a Texas high schooler developing a feminist revolution at her campus.
Lauren Oliver’s novel about a dangerous game among teenagers desperate to escape their small town has wrapped filming. Developed as a series, news about where and how it may release should be coming soon.
The Players Table
Based on the recently released thriller They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman, this mini-series doesn’t yet have a platform attached to it for release. But given that superstar Halsey is producing and costarring, this thriller about privileged teens and murder at a Long Island school.
The adaptation of Kiera Cass’s mega-bestselling series The Selection has wrapped up filming, and though there’s not yet a release date or platform attached, chances are this TV movie will have some news releasing soon. The story is about a girl competing for the Royal Prince’s hand she she may become the next queen.
Shadow and Bone: Netflix
Thanks to challenges in filming and production due to COVID, there isn’t yet a firm release date for the show based on Leigh Bardugo’s twin series Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. But given the author and folks behind the series have been promoting it in recent months, it’s surely on its way.
The Sky Is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson’s debut YA novel wrapped up filming this year and the current status is that it’s in post-production. When it lands a platform, we’ll begin to hear more about it, likely in 2021 (common refrain here, but given the uncertainty of anything with the pandemic, it’s at least something to look forward to!). The story follows a quiet teen girl working through the grief of losing her much more outspoken and adventurous older sister.
There’s Someone Inside Your House: Netflix, Fall
This slasher by Stephanie Perkins adds yet another teen horror to Netflix’s roster for 2021. Following a group of teens targeted by a masked assailant, it’s going to be outsiders who (maybe) come to the rescue. No firm release date yet, but production has wrapped up.
To All The Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean: Netflix, February
Be ready to return to all the feelings you had with the first two editions of this swoony teen romance with its final film. Jenny Han’s series has been explosively popular and with the trilogy coming to an end, chances are the first two films will be seeing even more interest, too. There is not yet a firm release date, but many anticipate it to be a February release.