Certainly the film and the book have their own merits, and I don't recommend you substitute one for the other or the other for one. Since I can't post the book here on the blog, and if you haven't read it, well, find a copy. Read it. The message is not deep, both the children you might read it to and you the reader will certainly receive its warm fuzzy endowment.
My second recommendation is for one Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by author/illustrator (and Caldecott Medal winner) Virginia Lee Burton. This one I did indeed have growing up. I read it all the time. If you unfamiliar with it, it's kind of a Little-Engine-that-Could meets "buddy" fiction meets your very favorite sports fable--Rudy-like, even--meets Tolkeinish anti-industrialization propaganda (not that either LoR or MMHSS is propaganda!) story. Yes. This book is that good.
As a kid, of course, I loved the build-up of the dig-down. Simply put, the story is this: the friends are introduced; they're outmoded by innovation; made obsolete, they retreat to the country; they're posed a challenge; and the mighty duo overcomes all, of course, but there's a bittersweet fate down there at the bottom of the hole they've dug themselves, which fate--there's no way out! --becomes more and more bitter, less and less sweet, the older I get.
The great thing about children's books, especially old favorites like these, is that they manage to replant you temporarily back into your childhood, often a very good thing for those like me who had great childhoods and who currently have, well, the beginnings of a very real adulthood. This book is an excellent children's book, indeed--inspirational, fun, comforting; but it is also a book for grownups. However, while it is indeed ideal for the kids, what is it really for we who read it to them?
I'm still working that out.
Maybe I'll do a Dubliners-style deconstruction of it someday--but not now; this is Wednesday after all.
The sound isn't very good on this one;
you may need to turn it up quite a bit.