Movies that Matter: Teaching Character Values with
Rachel Haley, M.Ed.   •   May 16, 2022

Some of my favorite memories growing up were of our weekly family movie nights. No matter how busy the family got or what everyone had going on, we would always slow down to eat snacks, snuggle under blankets, and watch a good movie once a week. This is something our entire family did together. That consistent family time allowed for some amazing memories and often sprouted some of the best and most natural heartfelt conversations. A good story pulls at the heartstrings and leaves the watcher with multiple themes to think about that can impact our personal lives.

To extend family conversations and help children process what they saw, follow-up after the movie with open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are questions that prompt more than a one-word explanation. Following are examples of great questions to engage children in deeper conversations after family movie time:

  • What was your favorite part of the movie?
  • How did the end make you feel?
  • Why do you think _______ did ________?

To help you find your next movie for your family movie night, here is a list of ten G-rated movies that are great for teaching positive character traits and could be the catalyst for your family’s next heart-to-heart discussion!
(This list is focused on older movies your family might not have seen yet, since many of the new movies could have already been watched.)

  • Bernard and Ms. Bianco are two New York City mice and are part of the Rescue Aid Society, a group that focuses on lending aid to others. They set off on a mission to rescue a little orphan, Penny, who has been kidnapped by the evil Madame Medusa.
  • Where to watch: Disney+, Prime Video, and Vudu.
  • Littlefoot is a young, orphaned dinosaur traveling to find the safety of the Great Valley. Along the way, he meets up with four other young dinosaurs. They discover the power of friendship as they travel across dangerous lands filled with carnivore dinosaurs.
  • Where to watch: Hulu, Prime Video, The Roku Channel.
  • A young orphan girl is sent off to live with her uncle. Lonely, she begins to explore the estate grounds and finds an old hidden garden. With the help of a servant boy she befriends, they begin to restore the garden and discover a lot more along the way!
  • Where to watch: Hulu, HBO Max.
  • Eeyore has lost his tail! His friends have a contest to find something new that Eeyore can use as a tail with the winner winning a big pot of honey. Along the way, Christopher Robins has been kidnapped and they must make sure this busy day turns out good in the end.
  • Where to watch: Disney+.
  • Flick is an inventor who accidentally causes trouble for his ant colony. When he messes up the food saved for the grasshoppers who bully the small ants, Flick sets off to find other insects to help defend their colony. He finds a rag-tag bunch of circus insects, but in the end, they learn that someone’s size doesn’t determine what they can accomplish.
  • Where to watch: Disney+.
  • Babe is a small piglet who discovers that the farmer plans to show him at the fair and then send him off to the butcher after. Babe decides to learn how to herd sheep to have a purpose on the farm and ensure that he can stay forever. Animal norms are challenged as Babe sets out to prove that he can do more than anyone thinks!
  • Where to watch: Hulu, Prime Video, The Roku Channel, STARZ.
  • Sarah is a young girl sent to a prestigious boarding school, but when her father dies, she must become a servant to work for the roof over her head. With her life turned upside down, she uses her imagination to make the best of things and discovers some of life’s unexpected surprises along the way.
  • Where to watch: Tubi.
  • Jane and Michael Banks are two wealthy children in need of a new nanny, again. They are unprepared when Mary Poppins arrives to open their eyes to a world of imagination. They embark of new adventures and learn that a positive attitude can also help solve life’s problems.
  • Where to watch: Disney+.
  • Chicken little is a scrawny outcast who is known town-wide for falsely claiming that the sky was falling. A year later, he happens to discover that the sky is falling in the form of alien’s coming down to invade his town. Chicken little and his group of outcast friends must work to convince the town of its incoming doom, and if the town won’t listen, they will just have to save the town themselves.
  • Where to watch: Disney+.
  • Wilbur is a small pig who discovers that he won’t get to live on the farm forever. With the help of a spider named Charlotte, they begin a plan to make the town fall in love with Wilbur in order to save his life.
  • Where to watch: Prime Video, The Roku Channel, Paramount+, SlingTV.
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