30 Must-See Movies for Kids

Over at Letterboxd, where I keep a journal of the movies that I see, I’ve added some new film lists.

One is the result of a Facebook prompt: My friend Sarah Partain was listing her favorite films for children, and she suspected that my list would be similar. We do share several favorites, but I became ambitious and ended up with a list of more than 30.

I consider it a work in progress, so feel free to suggest others, and they may show up on my revised list.

Keep in mind: I was thinking of films for children, not teenagers. I was tempted to include films like The Fellowship of the Ring and The Empire Strikes Back, but those feel like adventure films made with a teen-to-adult audience in mind. The movies on this list I recommend specifically for children, although some, like Watership Down, are took dark for very young children.

Other recent lists I’ve posted at Letterboxd include:

Overstreet’s 30 Favorite Directors (by favorite title) (alphabetical)

“Also Starring Tom Waits”: In Order of How Much I Love Him In It

Treasure: My Favorite Films from Each Year of My Lifetime

And, of course, the mandatory, ever-changing Jeffrey Overstreet’s Favorite Films.

And there are many more.

I recommend you start your own Letterboxd account. It’s becoming one of my daily internet stops, a place to keep a film diary, and to discover and discuss new films with enthusiastic and intelligent moviegoers.

If you appreciate this post and enjoy Jeffrey’s work exploring the territory where art, faith, and culture intersect, you’re invited to “Put Your Name in the Credits.” Cast your vote for “Keep Looking Closer Alive.” Make a donation. Offer whatever you feel moved to contribute. All donations will be applied directly to that materials, events, and experiences that make the blog happen. That’s a Looking Closer promise.


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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Can

    My nephews and I would like to thank you for this list! We’re also hoping you’ll find the time to update your Favorite Films for Children soon.

  • BrainRush

    How about the new Winnie the Pooh?

  • Bob Denst

    Glad to see that you have The Secret of Roan Inish there. When Stephen was quite young, he watched it for the first time and when it was over he turned to Lori with tears in his eyes and said “Mom, I’m crying and I don’t know why.” Quite the touching moment.
    So here are some others I’d add to your list: Fantasia 2000, Fivel Goes West, The Yellow Submarine, The General (Buster Keaton), a strong second for Wallace and Gromit, Jim Henson’s Storyteller series, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Thief of Baghdad (Douglas Fairbanks), Hugo, Spirited Away.

    • Allison McBain Hudson

      I agree – Roan Inish is one of my favourite films…

  • Tony Whittaker

    Great list. I’d certainly suggest animations such Eleanor’s Secret and Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and the Sorceress, which both went down particularly well with our 8-yr-old granddaughter,a shrewd critic (and us), and I’d put Eleanor’s Secret higher than Secret of Kells. A Cat in Paris too is another French animation of note, though Eleanor’s Secret is truly excellent storytelling. I guess different Ghibli fans will argue about which ones to include in a wider list; I’d throw in Mai Mai Miracle as almost on a par with Ghibli – though you have to scour eBay or Asian animation outlets to get it. You might have to split your list into animation and non-animation to accommodate all the good stuff :-)

  • http://www.longish95.blogspot.com Longish

    I have a soft spot for Wallace and Gromit.

  • Emilyn

    I was a little surprised to see Snow White on this list. It’s not bad… and it has a hint of allegory in it, I just never did like how the dwarves were portrayed, making the weakest one go first to see how great any danger may be. Probably because it was played for laughs.
    There’s Nassica (which, when I finally saw it and Princess Mononoke, very /slightly/ reminded me of Auralia. I don’t know why.), and Mulan, the Black Cauldron (even though the author borrowed a lot from Lord of the Rings) and so many others.


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