Is there a small child in your life that you want to introduce to the wonder that is fantasy? Full of swords and sorcerery, monsters and myths, these are seven movies that not only are appropriate for kids, but also perfectly enjoyable by adults.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
This is probably the most obvious, which is why we are getting it out of the way here. In this movie, we see Harry Potter, a “normal” kid in early ’90s London, as he realizes that he is part of a secret world of magic. We are introduced to monsters, both friendly and not, magic, with both rules and wonder, and dark forces that are central to most fantasy stories.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
When the people talk about the greatest fantasy stories of all time, two names are consistently mentioned: The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s probably because the authors of these two stories were friends who were part of a writing club together, the Inklings. However, watching LotR with small children probably isn’t advisable (unless it’s The Hobbit) because there are some truly scary things in those movies, especially with the Ring Wraiths. Instead, going to a world where your PoV characters are between the ages of 8 and 13, you can be sure that these movies stay fairly child-friendly. The fantasy is much stronger in these films, with Satyrs and Ice Witches, opening the door to how expansive fantasy truly is.
The Bridge to Terabithia
This movie, starring a young Josh Hutcherson, shows that fantasy exists beyond the pages of a book or the flickering of a screen. Instead, fantasy exists when you will it to. I will warn you though, if you haven’t seen it before, this movie has a very sad ending about loss. If you think your movie-watching companions are ready for that, then I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
The movie that inspired this post, as I saw it on Netflix recently. If you are unfamiliar with this movie, it’s like if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was written, but instead of being turned into a book, was found by a young muggle. This movie was made by Nickelodeon, and as such might be the most “immature” of the bunch, but exploring a world of fairies and ogres, boggarts and trolls, it’s a really cool magical monster movie.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
This movie might be the least “fantastic” of the list, because they try to mix the real world and Greek mythology into a coexistence. The books by Rick Riordan instantly became a huge hit during the YA hero phase of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and more. However, this movie does two things really, really well. For one, this movie focuses on actual historical mythology, which could lead kids to becoming interested in great historical works, like The Odyssey, which leads to an understanding of literature on a higher level. This movie is also great for kids with either ADHD or Dyslexia, as it gives those mental disorders a purpose; your brain isn’t wrong, it’s great at something else (Note: I have been diagnosed with ADHD since middle school, and I can say I thought my brain was “wrong” for years, and these books/movie helped me break that thought process.)
For those who were kids in the late ’80s/early ’90s, they would riot if I didn’t include Willow on this list. While it’s not my cup of tea (before my time), I will say one great thing about this movie is that they don’t try to explain anything fantasy. There isn’t any part of this movie that starts in the “real” world, and gives you a PoV character to understand it through. Instead, it throws you right into it with Nelwyn sorcerers and evil queens, and just expects you to keep up. Kids are a lot better at following stories than adults give them credit for, and this movie does great. Also, it’s fun to note that some of the most powerful/important characters in this movie are female. This is not an aggressively male-dominated story, but is for everyone.
The Golden Compass
This movie might be the least popular of all, because of a lot of push back from religious groups for the books critical viewpoint (even though they were removed from the film, antagonizing book fans), this book is also very fantastical. In it, there are spirit animals, expeditions to lands of armored polar bears, and even a magical artifact for which the film is named. Maybe not the movie you should start with, but fine in it’s own right.
There are so many great fantasy movies for kids, that hopefully you can use this list to spark interest in children for the greater side of fantasy.