Walt Disney Entertainment has introduced us to characters of all kinds of personality types and interests over the years. From those who rely solely on brawn and bravery to others who demonstrate courageousness and kindness, on several occasions there’s even an overlap of collective characteristics at work within a single character, resulting in the perfect pairing of positive attributes all rolled into one.
And it’s no secret that the dual featuring of brilliance and book smarts, as portrayed by so many Disney character creations, presents role model-seeking viewers with a collaboration that’s both paradigmatic as well as popular. From those of admittedly minor roles, to the overcoming underdogs we all like to cheer on, not to mention the reputed starring protagonists who live by example, here are eight of the best, brightest, and biggest bookworms featured throughout the years in Disney film.
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We begin by looking at Disney’s very own bookworm in the literal sense—the character “Bookworm.” Introduced in Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3 back in 2010, Bookworm is at first a part of Lotso’s more scrupulous team before eventually joining forces with the good guys. He is a glowworm-like toy with glasses and a flashlight, who keeps a makeshift library of toy-related manuals within the closet at Sunnyside Daycare. Epitomizing the name of “bookworm” so precisely, he is well-versed in reading the many manuals he maintains.
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7. Mike Wazowski
Here’s a classic example of mental fortitude outranking physical attributes. While we are first introduced to the one-eyed green monster we know as Mike Wazowski in Disney-Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. back in 2001, it’s in the follow-up sequel, Monsters University from 2013, that we get the full picture into who he is as a bookworm. For all that Mike lacks in physical frightfulness, he more than compensates for in his scare studies. He knows the book, knows the rules, and is a walking encyclopedia, of sorts, in the field of scaring.
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6. Basil of Baker Street
Most notable for his appeal as the protagonist in Disney’s animated feature presentation of The Great Mouse Detective from 1986, this mousey know-it-all was heavily inspired by the one and only Sherlock Holmes character created by author Sir Author Conan Doyle. Anyone familiar with the aforementioned and the long line of literary works he has been showcased in the know that he is witty, well-versed, well-read, and intelligent to say the least. He is the ultimate jack of all trades, who actively demonstrates the skills he acquires through reading and being an accomplished, learned character.
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Being stuck in a tower all day may lead one to go on fanciful explorations beyond the walls of physical limitations. And that’s exactly what the heroine of Disney’s Tangled does. In her opening musical number, she recounts all the many activities she does in a single day to keep herself occupied. In citing her agenda she mentions reading a book… “or maybe two or three.” Then she talks about rereading those same books later on in the song. Also in the film, she explains to Mother Gothel that she knows the lights that only appear on her birthday aren’t stars, as she has charted star patterns as well. This only drives home the fact that Rapunzel spends a lot of time reading and learning.
4. Princess Jasmine
Here is another Disney Princess with cabin fever. In this case, it’s really “palace fever” that Princess Jasmine experiences in both adaptations of Disney’s Aladdin. While each version highlights Jasmine’s astute cleverness and strong-minded independence, it is in the most recent live-action adaptation from 2019 that we get more of an inside look into how well-read she is. The most telling scene is the one where she challenges Aladdin (alias Prince Ali) to point out where he is from as indicated in the resource maps she knows so well.
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3. Milo Thatch
To say that the leading protagonist in Disney’s animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire from 2001 is a bookworm would be an understatement. While it is true that he has a book in-hand throughout most of the movie, a more accurate statement would be to say that Milo Thatch is an absolute brainiac on all scholarly levels. He graduated high school early, was accepted into a number of notable Ivy League universities, and is an absolute expert in linguistics and other subjects. While his awkwardness, nerdiness, and overall originality can at times detract from his credibility, in the end he succeeds at redeeming his social standing in perhaps one of the most motivating, feel-good reaffirmations in cartoon history.
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2. Ernst Robinson
With Disney’s 1960 live-action film adaptation of the beloved literary classic, Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, we make the acquaintance of a loving, resourceful family working together as a team, in light of being marooned on a desert island. While each member of the family adds something unique to the story, it’s the middle son, Ernst, who actively puts his knowledge and love of books to good use. He applies what he learns through reading to make island life less primitive on more than one occasion. He is also able to pinpoint approximately where they get shipwrecked geographically by observing the versatile ensemble of animals they encounter. This just once again proves the life-saving value of being an avid reader.
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The titular heroine from Beauty and the Beast is perhaps the most popular bookworm ever to grace Walt Disney Entertainment. In both the animated original from 1991 as well as in the live-action remake from 2017, we get to see one of the most beloved Disney Princesses of all time, exemplifying the art of reading while serving as a strong, encouraging role model. And while she does come from a rather narrow-minded town that does not look too favorably on reading, it does not detract from the viewer’s positive perception of Belle. From her appreciation, imagination, and seeing beyond the outer surface (in more than one way), to demonstrating an astute ingeniousness in all that she does, Belle is without a doubt the kind of girl any parent would love to see their daughters emulate.
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Disney has showcased many other brilliant minds in addition to our ultimate eight picks for the biggest bookworms. Some other big names have even appeared in Disney Channel original series, or special presentations. While it’s true that Disney’s most avid readers all come in different shapes and sizes, it’s also true that they are all right on the same page in finding fun and fulfillment through the art of reading.