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Ideas for Family Movie Night

A few years ago John Dickerson wrote a blog post called “Movies to Watch With the Kids.” In it he voiced a wish that someone had given him a list of films that appeal to kids under 10, and offered a list of his own. This site is the list I might have given him then, and which I offer now to parents who come after us.

We often use screens to engage our kids while we pay bills or get dinner on the table. But it’s nice to sit down to enjoy watching something together. Shared stories give families common language and cultural references, which help us to stay connected when we’re away from the screen.

In general this site tries to avoid franchises and products of the corporate child marketing machine. As a result it might leave out classics like The Little Mermaid or the original Star Wars. I’m not trying to be comprehensive. Just interesting.

I am indebted to the assistance of two books: Ty Burr’s The Best Old Movies for Families and The New York Times Essential Library of Children’s Movies (by Peter M. Nichols). Both offer more recommendations and insight than this site ever could. Their print editions may be disappearing, but both are available for Kindle and Nook.

Age Ratings and Content Advisories

No two kids are alike, and no two families are alike. Where possible I include age recommendations by others, and links to Common Sense Media for more information. (That resource, while incredibly valuable, is a little more concerned about rudeness and smoking than I am. You’ll find me more touchy about identity politics.) This site’s minimum age recommendation is five, but that’s more about attention span and the ability to follow a story (or to get a joke) than about a movie being upsetting or scary. When in doubt, watch the film yourself and decide what’s right for your child.

Many films on the site were made before any of us were born, from eras when Hollywood was even more white and male. Comes with the territory.

Finding Films to Watch

I try to include links to sites where you can legally rent or purchase films, but licensing agreements change without warning, and some years a particular film’s rights-holder isn’t especially interested in your money.

The Responsible Party

My one child (a boy, of specific interests) was born in 2004. I designed the site, and edit its contents. What I write here is based on experience and opinions and research. Guest writers are credited where they appear. Images are copyright the films rights-holders, subject to requests to desist or cease.

If you click on a link to a site for which I have an affiliate account (currently Amazon and iTunes) and spend some money there, I may receive a kickback. Nothing on the site is currently sponsored or advertising content. If that changes it will be designated clearly enough to trip over.

Chris Ereneta

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at watchwiththekids@gmail.com, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook.