The best childhood movies to re-watch with your kids
For many parents, one of the great joys of raising children involves sharing experiences and traditions from their own upbringing. When it comes to movies and music, parents often hope these experiences will help mould their offspring’s taste to align with their own making for seamless movie night selections. While some movies become dated over the years, this extra time together at home, due to recommended quarantine protocols, presents the perfect opportunity to revisit family-friendly flicks from the past few decades that have stood the test of time. These are some of the best childhood movies to watch with your little ones as you shelter in place
1 The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is one of the most beloved family-friendly romantic comedies of the ‘80s. Adapted from the 1973 novel of the same name, this movie takes you inside the world of a storybook where a farmhand goes on an adventure to rescue the love of his life after she is kidnapped.
Get your kids ready for the live-actionversion of Mulan, set to come out in 2020, by watching this animated version of the film from 1998. Loosely based on a true story, this film follows a brave young womannamed Mulan who pretends to be a man to take her elderly father’s place in the military.
It’s possible your kids will know the story of Annie and some of its songs from school musical productions. This musical film, set in the 1930s but released in 1982, follows an orphan named Annie as she waits for her long-lost parents to retrieve her from an orphanage in New York City, but unexpectedly finds a loving family in a wealthy man’s home.
4 The Wizard of Oz
Released in 1939, The Wizard of Ozis a film that your grandparents or parents likely introduced to you when you were young. Now, it’s time to pay if forward. After a tornado hits Dorothy’s home, she and her dog are transported to a magical land called Oz. In her effort to find the Wizard of Oz and return home, Dorothy learns a number of important life lessons and makes great friends with a scarecrow, lion, and tin man along the way.
5 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
If your kids enjoy the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,starring Johnny Depp, they’ll love experiencing Wonka’s wild world from a different perspective with the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Not only does the film teach the importance of being grateful rather than greedy, but it is incredibly imaginative and eye-catching for all ages.
6 Sister Act
Best reserved for tween and teenage kids, Sister Act follows a lounge singer named Deloris, played by Whoopi Goldberg, who is persuaded by the Witness Protection Program to pose as a nun after witnessing a murder. The film is comical, heartwarming, and full of great music. If your kids enjoy it, move on to the sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, when you’re done.
7 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Your kids may have seen the more recent films in the Indiana Jones film franchise, but if you want them to get the full scope of Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr.’s story, you’ll have to go back to the first instalment, Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this film, Indiana is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis get it. This rated 13+ movie is definitely best reserved for older kids.
8 Little Women
While several film adaptationsof Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women have been released over the years (most recently in 2019), you might be most familiar with the 1994 version. This movie beautifully depicts the March sisters’ experience growing up in post-civil-war America, and your kids will enjoy seeing recognizable grown-up actors like Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst as children.
9 Now and Then
If you’re hoping to have a movie night with your tween or teenage daughter(s), Now and Thenis a perfect choice. This coming-of-age movie follows four young girlsduring the summer of 1970 as they deal with crushes, changing bodies, and new family dynamics. It also shares glimpses of the girls as grown women in the ‘90s, providing a unique look at how friendships can be maintained for decades.
10 Angels in the Outfield
This is the story of a young foster boy who wishes that the Los Angeles Angels baseball team would win the pennant, so he can have a real relationship with his distant, widowed father. The film teaches kids to dream big and maintain hope in rough times. They might recognize the actor playing Roger, too. Joseph Gordon-Levittis now a well-known Hollywood film star.
11 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Released in 1982, E.T. is a beloved childhood movie for many. The touching story of an unexpected friendship between a young boy, Elliott, and E.T. the extraterrestrial alien, transcends time and teaches children to care for others and open their hearts to new people and creatures.
12 Back to the Future
This movie ties in perfectly to the idea of seeing what things were like when your parents were young, and realizing your parents were once kids themselves. When teenager Marty McFly is sent to the past (his parents’ teenage years) through scientist Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine, he must find a way to get back home without making too much of an impact—to the point where he could lose his future.
13 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
While parents might hope their kids don’t get any hints from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this childhood movie will allow them to experience the wonder that is a John Hughes movie. The film tells the story of Ferris, a charismatic teenager, who fakes being sick and spends the day exploring Chicago with his best friends, all while his principal tries to track him down.
14 Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope
Before your kids see the latest Star Wars movies, show them where it all began. Despite being filmed in 1977, this film holds up well in terms of story and special effects. Follow the adventures of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo—along with their companions R2D2, C3PO, and Chewbacca—as they attempt to save Princess Leia from Darth Vader, help the rebel alliance, and bring peace to the galaxy.
15 The Lion King
While numerous animated Disney movies have been released over the years, The Lion King stands out as a must-watch classic childhood movie. After his father is killed by his Uncle Scar, lion cub Simba is told to run away and never come back. In time, Simba must find a way to get home and reclaim his rightful place as King. Filled with music, humour, and tear-jerking moments, this movie has a little bit of everything.
16 Home Alone
While set at Christmas, Home Alone is fun to watch throughout the year. This film tells the story of Kevin McCallister, a young boy whose family accidentally leaves him behind when they fly to Paris for Christmas. Once “home alone,” Kevin must deal with two burglars who are trying to rob his home. When you’re done, follow it up with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
17 Karate Kid
When Danny moves with his mom to a new city and finds he is a target for bullies, he seeks the assistance of Mr. Miyagi to teach him about self-defencethrough karate, but he ends up learning a number of life lessons along the way. The film’s central themes of feeling isolated and forming unexpected friendships will resonate with kids today, just as it did in the past.
18 The Little Rascals
Young kids are sure to appreciate the quirky crew in The Little Rascals as much as you once did. This 1994 remake of the classic TV show follows Alfalfa as he tries to charm his crush Darla, while keeping up appearances at his friends’ “He-Man Woman Haters Club.”
Your children will be incredibly thankful for their school and family after seeing this 1996 film. Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, Matilda tells the story of an intelligent young girl who doesn’t seem to fit in with her family. After discovering she has telekinetic powers, Matilda finds a way to turn things around and improve her life.
20 Harriet the Spy
A great way to teach kids about being less judgmental, Harriet the Spytells the story of Harriet Welsch, a girl who aspires to be a writer and becomes a spy to collect stories. When Harriet’s spy notebook ends up in the wrong hands, she realizes she may have hurt people with her short-sighted observations.
Many kids wonder what it would be like to be grown up—this film shows them what can happen. Big tells the story of 12-year-old Josh Baskin, who becomes a 30-year-old manafter making a wish on an electronic fortune teller. While Josh ends up landing a job at a big toy company in New York City, in the end he just wants to find a way to become a kid again and return home.
Released in 1995, the touching story of Babe the pig will resonate with kids today the same way it did decades ago. After Babe is welcomed home by a gentle farmer, he quickly forms a close relationship with the other farm animals, to the point where he sees a collie dog as his mom. Babe eventually discovers he, too, has a hidden skill—sheep herding.
23 Beauty and the Beast
This classic animated film will remind your kids to see past initial appearances. When Belle’s father gets lost, she goes to find him in an abandoned castle. Once there, she is held captive by the beast living in the castle. However, she soon discovers there is more to the beast than initially meets the eye.
If your kid is a dog lover, this film is a guaranteed hit. When the Newton family adopts a Saint Bernard puppy named Beethoven, they soon discover they may have bitten off more than they can chew with their sweet but clumsy canine.
25 Parent Trap
A great summertime movie, this film will leave your kids dreaming of potentially long-lost foreign twins. After identical twins Annie the Londoner and Hallie the California girl meet at camp, they soon discover they share more than a resemblance. The girls soon decide to swap places in an effort to get their parents back together.
26 Mrs. Doubtfire
Comical and heartwarming, Mrs. Doubtfire is a great way to share the comic genius of the late Robin Williams with your kids. After getting divorced, Daniel Hillard is desperate to find a way to spend more time with his kids. Daniel soon comes up with a nanny persona, Mrs. Doubtfire, who brings joy and fun into the kids’ lives.
27 My Girl
Keep the tissues on handwhile watching this movie as a family. My Girl follows Vada Sultenfuss, the daughter of a funeral director, as she navigates growing up, developing crushes, aspiring to be a writer, and dealing with her dad’s new girlfriend. However, when Vada’s best friend Thomas J. tragically passes away, her world is turned upside down.
28 The Sound of Music
This classic musical has a timeless quality that makes it a perfect fit for every generation. Not only will your kids get a history lesson as they witness the Von Trapp family dealing with life in Austria in the time immediately preceding World War II, but they will learn some new songs from the film’s wonderful soundtrack.
29 Toy Story
If your kids have seen the more recent Toy Story movies, it’s time they discover where it all began. This animated movie tells the story of Woody and Buzz as they try to navigate becoming friends and cohabiting in Andy’s room.
30 Freaky Friday
While you can’t actually trade places and walk in another person’s shoes, this film will give your kids a taste of what it’s like to spend a day as a parent. Comical and heartwarming, this movie is an ideal pick for a mother-daughter movie night.
31 The Baby-Sitters Club
This film is sure to spark your kids’ entrepreneurial spirit. Based on the popular book series, The Baby-Sitters Club follows the lives of Kristy, Dawn, Claudia, and their friends as they try balancing pre-teen social struggles with their burgeoning babysitting business.
Ideal for kids who are into spooky movies, the original Ghostbusters is wildly entertaining. When a team of scientists decides to try their hand at getting in touch with the paranormal to earn some extra money, they soon discover they might truly be up against something. The Ghostbusters discover they’ll have to act quickly to save the people of New York City.
33 Cool Runnings
This moviewill teach kids about perseverance and pushing through adversity. Based on a true story, Cool Runningsfollows the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team as they try to beat the odds and win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Calgary.
34 Free Willy
When Jesse is placed with a foster family, it seems as though no one can get through to him. However, while working at a theme park to make up for his wrongdoings, Jesse forms a special bond with the killer whale, Willy. Jesse then risks everything to help free Willy and let him go out into the wild.
35 Jurassic Park
If your kids love dinosaurs, they’ll fall head over heels for Jurassic Park. In this film, paleontologists and a mathematician are invited to tour a theme park inhabited by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. The park’s creator assures them that everything is safe but it turns out that might not be the case.