A great family movie can get your kids thinking and asking questions about the world, make them misty-eyed, or trigger major belly laughs. And sharing that experience with them? Parenting perfection. With that goal in mind, Scholastic Parent & Child set out to create what we think is the definitive list of movies every family should see.
To choose our 100, we, the editors of Parent & Child, asked for suggested titles from a diverse group of film fans, including Hollywood insiders, movie critics, and readers. We then added our own suggestions into the mix. With nearly 400 movies initially considered, we spent weeks narrowing down the list to about 120 films and then watched every single one over the next few months. (We watched quite a few at our desks — please don’t tell the boss!) We ranked the final films based on the comments of the review panel as well as each film’s take-away value, plot, visuals, acting, ratings, cultural significance, and overall popularity.
The result is a masterful list unique from others because of the messages the films send and their ability to bring families together. With age ranges, genres, and MPAA ratings included, our guide is guaranteed to help you open your child’s eyes to something special.
So get the popcorn poppin’ and gather round the TV tonight!
Scholastic Parent & Child magazine is published eight times a year by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and media. The magazine helps parents raise smarter, happier families. With a focus on learning as the core of family life, we cover development; imaginative play; smart family travel; nutrition; and a healthy, active lifestyle. We help young, growing families succeed within the school experience and in life.
Bozdech has vast experience working in online parenting and entertainment content. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she began her editorial career at BabyCenter.com in 1997 and later served as an editor at Reel.com, Emode.com, and AOL's Digital City before working as the site content manager at Netflix for three years. She joined Common Sense Media in 2006. She is the proud mother of a preschool-age daughter.
Minow reviews movies and DVDs each week as "The Movie Mom" for Beliefnet and various radio stations across the country. She is the author of two books: The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments.
Mankiewicz debuted on TCM in September 2003 as only the second host in the network’s history. As a film critic, Mankiewicz has co-hosted the online movie review show What the Flick?! as well as the nationally syndicated TV series At the Movies. His film reviews appear regularly with The Huffington Post. Mankiewicz graduated from Tufts University and received his master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
As host of the popular Essentials, Jr. showcase, Hader presents films that are ideal for parents to introduce to kids. Hader is also a well-known actor and writer. He has starred on Saturday Night Live for the past seven years and is a producer of South Park. He has also turned in memorable performances in such films as Tropic Thunder, Night at the Museum 2, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Beckerman started the NYICFF in 1997 to promote intelligent, passionate, provocative cinematic works for ages 3-18 and to help define a more compelling film for kids. Since its launch, the event has grown to become the largest festival for children and teens in North America. Beckerman is also the president of GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning animated films for both adult and family audiences. The company has earned three Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature in the past three years: The Secret of Kells (2010), A Cat in Paris (2012), and Chico & Rita (2012).
The following explanation of movie ratings is adapted from the Motion Picture Association of America.
NR: Not rated. Generally assigned to movies that were made before 1968, when the current rating system was created.
G: General Audiences. All ages admitted. Contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence, or other matters that would offend parents whose younger children view the film. Some snippets of language may go beyond polite conversation, but they are common everyday expressions. No stronger words are used, violence is very minimal and there is no nudity, sex, or drugs.
PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. A PG-rated movie should be investigated by parents before they let young children view. There may be some profanity, violence, or brief nudity, but these elements are not so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned. There is no drug use.
PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. This rating is a sterner warning to parents. The movie may include brief nudity, but nudity in this rating is generally not sexually oriented. Although there may be depictions for violence, it is generally not considered both realistic and extreme or persistent. A single use of one of the harsher sexually derived swear words initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. If these words are used more than once, or used at all in a sexual context, the film will be rated R.