As any parents know, movies can be a lifesaver. When your little bundle of energy simply won’t calm down despite your best efforts, popping in a DVD or pulling up Netflix can provide the much-needed source of entertainment you need.
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But movies aren’t just about lulling your child into submission for 90 to 120 minutes. If you pick the right children’s films, they can actually be so much more. Many kids’ movies are rife with inspirational moments and valuable life lessons. When next you set about selecting a movie for your little one to devour, consider picking one of these meaningful and moving winners.
1. Don’t Judge A Book by Its Cover – Beauty And The Beast
The 1991 Disney rendition of this classic tale continues to teach young viewers an important lesson to this day. You can’t assume too much about a person by what you see on the outside. Yes, the beast is a hideous monster (thanks to Disney, not so hideous that he scares the kids), but it’s what’s inside him that counts. Fortunately, Belle isn’t your average girl and gives him a fair chance to show who he truly is under all that fur.
2. Accept People Who Are Different – Lilo And Stitch
Who would think that an animated tale set in Hawaii and featuring an alien that crash-landed onto planet Earth could have any real substance to it. But, if you’ve seen Lilo and Stitch, you know it can. This Disney pictures features misunderstood Lilo, who’s older sister has been shouldering the burden of raising her since their parents’ untimely death. When her sister lets Lilo get a dog, she assumes the family will be welcoming a new cocker spaniel or similar. But Lilo picks Stitch. Despite his destructive behavior and odd looks, Stich proves to be just what Lilo needs.
3. Just Keep Swimming – Finding Nemo
Although your children (hopefully) don’t know it yet, bad things will happen. It can be hard to move on from the bad things – just as it was hard for Marlin to move on and raise Nemo after Nemo’s mom was killed – but it’s vital that you do. As the forgetful fish Dory says, ironically, memorably in this film, “Just keep swimming.” It is only by moving forward that you can overcome the past.
4. No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference – Wall-E
No one would think that a simple trash-collecting robot, relegated to live life on an abandoned planet, could make a difference at all. In this Disney Pixar film, Wall-E’s situation is very emotive. When a new robot lands on his planet and finally teaches Wall-E how to feel, he realizes that he is powerful – which is pretty ridiculously amazing for a robot. And because of this self-realization, Wall-E sets off on a journey that changes not just his life, but the lives of the remaining members of the human race who had, up until this point, been gluttonously traveling the galaxy in a space station.
5. Be Happy – Annie
If there was ever someone who had a right to be a bit bitter about the hardship life had dealt her, that person would be Annie. Not only did she live in an orphanage and have, basically, nothing, she had to deal with the ridiculous demands of Mrs. Hannigan. Fortunately, Annie didn’t let it get her down. Her infectious spirit (and some luck) earned her an invitation into the home of Daddy Warbucks, who would ultimately change her life for the better.
6. People Can Change – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Whether you prefer the classic animated version or the live-action Jim Carey remake of this Seuss classic, the message remains the same: People can change if given the chance. Sure, the Grinch starts out as a horrible creature who hates all things happiness-related (especially Christmas). But, as the movie progresses, we see him change and evolve. And thanks to the forgiving people of Whoville, this change doesn’t go unnoticed.
7. Dreams Are Worth Chasing – The Little Mermaid
In 1989, Disney introduced us to a lively and adventurous young mermaid name Ariel. Unlike most merpeople, who were entirely content to flip their fins around their undersea city, Ariel wants more. Even though she probably should have listened to her father, she chased after her dream and found a way to make life on land a reality for her. After a scary sea battle (which, again, she could have avoided had she listened to Dad), she earned her legs for real – and got to marry a prince with ridiculously cute blue eyes.
8. Teamwork Is Valuable – The Lego Movie
Any kid who likes Lego – which, let’s face it, is almost every kid – will delight in the 2014 picture, The Lego Movie. The bright colors and engaging characters make this movie a major winner with one lesson that you simply can’t miss – teamwork is valuable. Seriously. All it will take is one viewing and your kid will be walking around the house humming the catchy tune, “Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team…” Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
9. Follow The Rules – Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
Is your kid continually trying to skate by with rule-breaking behavior? Pop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (or the contemporary re-imagination of the Roald Dahl tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Your kid will naturally be enticed by the heavy presence of oh-so-delicious candy throughout the film. In the meantime, they will also be learning an important lesson: Rule followers win in the end. It is, after all, only Charlie, who followed all of Willy Wonka’s rules, who gets the opportunity to move his family out of squalor and into a world of pure imagination.
10. You Can Do Anything If You Set Your Mind To It – How To Train Your Dragon
Hiccup isn’t exactly what you would call an intimidating figure. Despite his status as the son of the Viking ruler, his scrawny exterior makes him someone who doesn’t demand much respect. This changes when he finds Toothless, an injured dragon. Instead of killing the dragon, as Vikings should, he trains it, and, in doing so, changes his entire community’s view of these once
11. Growing Up Is Inevitable – The Toy Story Series
Growing up can be hard for kids – all the changes, all the things you leave behind. In truth, however, it’s often even harder for the parents who simply can’t handle their pudgy little toddlers turning into schooled, street-smart and self-sufficient pre-teens in the blink of an eye. No matter how difficult, however, growing up is inevitable. Things change. And we see this most acutely – and most movingly – from the eyes of the well-loved toys that fill Andy’s toy box in this classic Disney series.