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15 Best Classic Movies for Kids

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A movie night on the couch is one of the best ways to spend time together as a family, but picking the movie can be an ordeal. Has anyone else spent so much time trying to decide on one that your pizza has gotten cold? Sure, there are a lot of great new movies coming out, but next time you’re struggling, don’t forget about classic movies for kids. We’re talking about the ones you loved when you were young and maybe still quote today. Your kids will finally know where that line came from!

Sure, the picture might not be as sharp, but each of these classic movies for kids captures a timeless element of childhood that your kids will totally connect with. Complete the classic movie night with vintage candy, some popcorn, and sodas in glass bottles. Unless you still have a VHS player, there’s no rewinding required!

It was tough, but we’ve narrowed the list down to 15 movies that all kids should watch while they’re still young. Here they are in chronological order by release date.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Known as one of the greatest films of all time, The Wizard of Oz has a sing-along score of 10 and a pretty deep message to teach: You often already have what your heart is longing for. You just have to open your eyes to it!

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yes, there are some scary moments that you might want to fast-forward through (I’m lookin’ at you, scary riverboat!), but this movie is a great lead-in to a discussion about the seven deadly sins and how awesome it would be if a few Oompa Loompas lived with you.

Annie (1982)

How could a kid not love a movie with the following description? “A spunky young orphan is taken in by a rich eccentric, much to the chagrin of the cantankerous woman who runs the orphanage.” Parents will selfishly hope that watching Annie will make the kids grateful for how good they’ve got it.

E.T. (1982)

OK, E.T. might teach your kids that you don’t pay close enough attention to what they’re hiding in their bedrooms, but hopefully, they’ll also take away the lesson that love and friendship know no bounds.

The Karate Kid (1984)

Fitting in is hard when you’re the new kid and bullies have always and will always be around. The Karate Kid made our list of classic movies for kids because it teaches that hard work and persistence pay off and that violence begets violence.

The Goonies (1985)

This is definitely one of the classic movies for kids that many parents forget contains a wee bit of mature content (mainly some salty language). Still, this tale of a band of misfits who discover an ancient map and set out to find a pirate’s treasure is the stuff of kids’ dreams. Pair the movie with our printable Treasure Hunt Clues for a pirate-themed family fun night. Just be prepared for your kids to yell “hey, you guuuuys!”

Back to the Future (1985)

Yes, there’s some language in this one, but what a fun way to get your kids to think about what you were like when you were their age. They’ll also learn that our actions have consequences—good and bad. Be forewarned that every kid will want to learn how to skateboard after watching the master, Marty McFly, on his board.

The Princess Bride (1987)

First, how can you not love little Fred Savage enjoying some read-aloud time with his grandpa, Peter Falk? This movie has everything fantasies should: romance, adventure, magic, giants, sword fights, and rodents of unusual size. In the end, love wins—a message all kids need to hear.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

This is one that will get your kids’ imaginations running wild. Ask them how they’d make it through the back yard if they ended up becoming the size of a LEGO. Silliness aside, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is about relationships—parent and child, neighbors, and siblings—and how a change of perspective (ahem) helps everyone reevaluate what’s important.

Home Alone (1990)

On top of it being a Christmas classic, Home Alone also shows kids that they can be resourceful, organized, and independent. And all of us could use a reminder to tell our family members we love them—oh, and to set a backup alarm clock.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Of all the Disney princess movies, this one made our list not only because it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, but because its lesson of not judging a book by its cover is one that every kid needs to learn.

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Every kid needs a good sports movie and one that features a team of underdogs is the best kind. In a time when there’s so much pressure on kids to play a sport in order to sharpen their skills and make it to the next level, The Mighty Ducks reminds kids that sports are about playing, not just winning.

The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot is a classic movie for kids with its all-American nostalgic feel. There’s no major tension, except for the missing baseball that was signed by The Babe, so this is just a fun movie about the joys of childhood. Bonus: Your kids will finally know why you keep saying, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

Toy Story (1995)

This Pixar classic confirms that kids are right for wondering what it would be like if their toys really did come to life and what the toys do when they’re not looking. The movie (and the Toy Story series as a whole) has lessons on loyalty, friendship, and growing into adulthood.

Prince of Egypt (1998)

There have been a lot of Christian animated and live films made over the years, and this is one of the best for kids. The all-star cast (Val Kilmer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum) brings one of the most epic stories from the Bible to life—something our kids will remember forever.

OK, your turn. What did we miss? What movie from your childhood are you excited for your kids to see?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

What’s your favorite movie?

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