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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 beliefnet.com. 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 blu-ray.com 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.

 

Will this page help you pick a movie for the children in your life?

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    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 4 years ago from USA

      Yes! thanks for the wise advice!

    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 5 years ago

      I appreciate this list of resources and your suggestions. My only son will be turning 4 in a few months and we want to make sure that any film he views is appropriate.

    • profile image

      Shadrosky 5 years ago

      It's great to be able to use the web to screen what a child will see in advance...though we can't protect them from everything, there's no reason to subject a child to age-inappropriate viewing if it can be avoided through proper research. Great lens!

    • fathomblueEG profile image

      fathomblueEG 5 years ago

      Yes I think it's great info for anyone.

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 7 years ago

      Quite an informative lens!With Love and Gratitude,Jeremiah

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Thanks for helping... I am not savvy about movies but my grandson loves them... so I need all the hints i can get in order to choose the best movies for a six year old.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Stopping back by to say congratulations on being listed on the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very helpful information to help parents and grandparents find age appropriate movies for the children in their lives. Congrats on being one of the top 45 on the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase list!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      Very helpful suggestions ... Congratulations on being chosen for the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase. Happy new year!

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 7 years ago

      Congrats on making it on the Giant Squid Showcase! Happy New Year!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      Glad I found you here. Congratulations and all the best for 2011.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Wise advice here and some wonderful recommendations too. I feel children and their parents have unsuitable movies being pushed on them as 'family movies' when they are too scary or have more grown-up themes than the rating suggests. Congratulations on being included in the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase with this helpful guide.

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Congratulations on being on the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase List!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Oh Brenda, what a wonderful and important service you are providing here! Congratulations for being on the Best of List for the 2010 Giant Squid Showcase! Very impressive work and excellent guidelines!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      Congratulations on being one of the 45 on the Giant Squid 2010 Showcase. Very cool. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Congratulations Brenda for being included in The 2010 Giant Squid Showcase by the SquidTeam! How cool is that! Happy New Year, Squidhugs from Kathy

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 7 years ago from Canada

      Help finally in the choice of Children's movies I should've thunk of that!

    • profile image

      tssfacts 7 years ago

      Very informative. When I was growing my parents didn't have to be concerned about what movies were kid appropriate. We still had scary movies but they were the good old B rated ones which seem to pale to the ones that area out today. The scariest one I remember watching was "Invasion of the Body Snatcher".

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Excellent advice and suggestions! I remember very well having to watch every movie before I would let my children see it. Now they are grown and I am embarrassed by the content of some of the movies we go to see. It seems like crude is now defined as funny.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I left a comment here but don't see it. You have excellent recourses to help you pick the right type of movie for children.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Excellent information on how to pick the right movies for our children.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Thanks for providing this excellent information and great resource for parents who worry about what movies their children should see.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 7 years ago

      In Toy Story 3 there are some instances of humour which would go right over a young child's head but may need some explaining to slightly older children, such as the moment when Ken (actually Barbie posing as Ken in a space suit) is spotted wearing high heels and another character simply shrugs at the sight. This could really take some explaining if you have a sharp minded youngster. If you are fussy about what children watch then you should always watch the movie first yourself without them present. It is a good movie but be prepared for that one.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
      Author

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      @Joan4: Joan, that's one of my tips...which I don't think I've mentioned here. I'm off to add it; we used it whenever required. When in doubt, watch the movie BEFORE you show it to your children.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
      Author

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      @eclecticeducati1: Given I was as picky as I was, it is hard to believe that things still slipped through the cracks.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
      Author

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      @BuckHawkcenter: As evidenced in my Ghostbusters story, it is so easy to make a mistake. That's why, I think, we need to be armed with good information.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 7 years ago

      This is excellent. I have two granddaughters aged 8 and 2, so finding movies to watch with them is a bit tricky! And I have discovered some real wrong choices. Thanks for all the advice.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 7 years ago

      A very thorough lens! And now I know what the American classifications are :) Here in England it is U, PG, 12 and 12A.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      Nicely done..we don't have children anymore...but don't like to see most of the things that we avoided when the children were around ourselves..so still picky:-)

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      Great information here! I am real picky about what my kids watch, but sometimes, things slip through. I've even shielded them from a couple of Little House in the Prairie shows and a couple i wish I would have! lol!!!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      I've seen most of these - they're great!

    • profile image

      aishu19 7 years ago

      It sure will. Entertainment these days do need some scrutiny before we expose our kids to it. Nice guidelines

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 7 years ago

      I was not as careful with my sons who are much older than their sister. But with my daughter I monitored everything she watched. You have done an excellent job in explaining the movie ratings.

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Yes, this page will most definitely become a resource for us. We are all very particular about what movies and tv shows our grandchildren watch. Very often, their mom and dad will preview a movie before they see it, especially if there is any question about it. Parents need to be very alert about movies and television. Our precious children are exposed to too much too soon if we are not careful!

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