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How To Pick The Best Movies For Children

Updated on September 25, 2014

Do You Need Help Picking A Movie That is Entertaining and Age Appropriate For The Children In Your Life?

When my sons were young, I may well have been the most careful Mom on the block when it came to picking a movie for my boys to watch. We did not watch very much television at all and, when we did watch a movie, it was a special occasion. Therefore, I wanted the movie to be an excellent choice and to be AGE APPROPRIATE.

The first example that comes to my mind is Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is rated 'PG,' which means parental guidance recommended. On the surface, this movie seems like a fun, friendly choice and, as an extra bonus, it is related to Halloween, a subject for which we were always searching for movies that were appropriate for our children. We started to watch this movie and I was flabbergasted at the scene which takes place between Bill Murray and a ghost on a bed...I'll leave your imagination to fill in the details rather than be explicit here. Seemed like a wonderful choice but definitely, in my opinion, NOT.

A second example is when my ten-ish year old son was invited to a friend's birthday party where they were going to be watching horror movies. I fully understand that some tween boys and girls yearn to watch scary movies and horror movies. They really do want to be scared. However, most horror movies are NOT appropriate for children and I definitely did not want my son watching the movie choices that were being offered that afternoon. To complicate matters, my ten-year old son's brother had been invited to the party, too.

Anyway, this page is meant to be a resource to help YOU find the BEST MOVIES for your children. If you could you use a little help picking a movie, I know that the resources on this page will help you and your family find your next movie adventure as well as find some excellent movie resources that you will come back to again and again.

This page should also be helpful to the other people who want to buy a movie for the children in their life for whom they, too, only want to make an excellent, entertaining and appropriate choice. Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, this page will help you find a movie gift for the young children in your life.

Click here to order your copy of Frozen on blu-ray or DVD or even both formats from Amazon.

Picking Movies for Children
Picking Movies for Children | Source

Protect Your Children From Inappropriate Movies

  • Check out the ratings of a movie BEFORE you bring it home.

  • Know that the MPAA ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17) are defined by how much material in the movie is going to be objected to rather than on whether or not they are age appropriate. Use them as a starting point only.

  • Remember, the information on the movie box is designed to SELL movies not to share the information you need to make a good movie choice.

  • When in doubt, watch the movie BEFORE you show it to your children.

  • Watch with your children. Don't present a movie and walk away.

  • If you are watching something that you don't like, TURN IT OFF. That is what happened in my house with the Ghostbusters movie. I'm not sure at what age I would have found the scene mentioned earlier appropriate. My children are 17 and 18 now and I might still be uncomfortable watching Ghostbusters with them.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Ratings Explained

G means 'General Audiences. All ages admitted.' These movies are considered suitable for all ages. However, young children are often not ready to watch full movies and should watch material that is recommended for their ages.

PG means 'Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.' A movie that is rated PG may have some swear words, violence and/or tense moments.

PG-13 means 'Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.' A movie that bears this rating will have stronger language, nudity and sexual references and/or violence. PG-13 movies can cover a lot of ground; one may be suitable for your child and the next not. You need to be especially careful with this category of movies.

Have you seen a movie with children present when they should not have been?

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The Best Family Friendly Movie Guide Books

The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies

It was with the assistance of the Movie Mom that my husband and I chose movies for our children. Of course, when we first 'met' her the internet was not so popular and we accessed her as an excellent, excellent resource through this book and her reviews on Yahoo. Now Nell Minow reviews movies as The Movie Mom on The book is dated but if you are interested in learning about movies that have been around for awhile you might still find her books helpful.

The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together - The Amazon customer reviews HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie guide to old movies.

The Best Old Movies for Families is a guide to older movies, which breaks movies down into three age ranges:

FOR THE LITTLE ONES AGED 3-6: This section includes fast moving movies that are fairly simple but not dumbed down. This section would include movies like Singin' in the Rain and Bringing Up Baby.

FOR THE ONES IN BETWEEN AGED 7-12: This section includes great stories with the characters in simple situations that turn out not to be quite so simple. This section includes movies like The African Queen and Some Like It Hot do the job well.

FOR THE OLDER ONES AGED 13+: This section includes movies that relate to contemporary movies and compares movies. For instance, without Alfred Hitchcock's work, there might be no Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I don't personally own this book but, given the 15 five-star customer reviews on Amazon, I sure would like to!

Talking Pictures: A Parent's Guide to Using Movies to Discuss Ethics, Values, and Everyday Problems with Children - Once again, Amazon's customers give this boo

Talking Pictures is a book that will help you get discussion going with your children. This book actually takes the movies and uses them as ways to discuss sensitive issues. It covers subjects like divorce, marriage, family, love, gender identity, social ethics, separation and loss, friendship, death, illness and substance abuse.

Talking Pictures: A Parent's Guide To Using Movies To Discuss Ethics, Values, And Everyday Problems With Children
Talking Pictures: A Parent's Guide To Using Movies To Discuss Ethics, Values, And Everyday Problems With Children
AMAZON CUSTOMER REVIEW An anonymous customer says that this book is full of insights into how to use films in a family setting. He says that it is not just a movie guide but also a book that will show parents how to use movies to learn about their children. If you do not have chatty children, the movies recommended in this book will give you some common ground for conversations.

A Few Great Children's Movies

(Rated G or PG)

Beauty and the Beast - Beauty and the Beast is one of the best blu-ray movies available.

Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in DVD Packaging)
Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in DVD Packaging)
One of the best blu-ray movies available, Beauty and the Beast is also an excellent family movie and is rated G. Click here to see all of the versions of Beauty and the Beast.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - A classic movie choice redone masterfully on blu-ray and DVD.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live w/ Blu-ray packaging)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live w/ Blu-ray packaging)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is another excellent family movie and is rated G. Click here to see all of the versions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Sure to be top of the movie wish list of everyone who enjoys animated movies is Toy Story 3, which has proven to be a hit with adults and children. A bonus, the blu-ray version of this movie is considered, by the experts at to be THE best blu-ray movie available. Toy Story 3 is rated G and though I haven't seen it yet, everything I have read says if you pick Toy Story 3 as a movie gift, you cannot go wrong.Click here to see all of the versions of Toy Story 3 that are available.

Despicable Me

Despicable Me [Blu-ray]
Despicable Me [Blu-ray]
Despicable Me is another great family movie pick, which is also rated PG. Click here to see all versions of Despicable Me.

How To Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
How to Train Your Dragon (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
How To Train Your Dragon is a great family movie pick and is rated PG.Click here to see all versions of How To Train Your Dragon.

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