One of our favorite family activities has become Dinner & a Movie Night. It’s usually Friday, which is such a fun way to wind down after a busy week. Our kids are between three and eight, which means movies need to be less scary and more sweet but still interesting enough for the whole family to enjoy.
Here is our list of favorites so far–and we’ve watched every one so we can vouch for how sweet, funny or inspiring they are — plus movies on our list of what to watch next.
The 25 Best Movies for Kids Under 10
Here’s the full list, with more details about each one, including a link to Amazon and a trailer below.
This is my kids’ FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME. There’s so much music plus can-do, root-for-the-underdog, love-yourself spirit through the whole thing. It’s amazing.
2. The Princess Diaries
Julie Andrews is a regal queen who guides her long-lost American grand-daughter into a new role as princess. Totally funny and charming.
3. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Three pets set off on an adventure across a vast wilderness to try to find their family. Full of adventure but not too scary. Bonus: talking animals are always a hit.
4. Pete’s Dragon
This remake stars Robert Redford as lonely old-timer, the only one who believes in the dragon..until a little boy who LIVES with the dragon is discovered in the woods. Majestic flying scenes plus touching encounters make the few tense moments when the dragon gets captured, plus a fiery chase scene, worth it.
5. Hotel for Dogs
Two foster kids (including Emma Roberts) set up a secret — and very elaborate shelter for dogs — and hilarity (plus a little drama) ensues.
This fish out of water story is adorably told in a whimsical style: On a hilltop farm, the pig of all animals in the barnyard, becomes a champion herder of sheep. More talking animals.
7. Queen of Katwe
I was surprised at how captivating a movie about chess could be! This Disney movie follows a true story of a girl who grew up in the slums of Uganda becomes a national champion. Gorgeous scenery.
One of Pixar’s best movies, Lightening McQueen is a cocky up-and-coming race car who learns about humility and friendship. Bonus: It’s a trilogy! Here’s what Cars 3 looks like:
9. Toy Story
The toys come to life in this 90’s classic about teamwork and finding purpose.
10. Finding Nemo
A prequel to Finding Dory that came out long before I even had kids, this movie is just as sweet. Nemo is a clownfish who is captured off the Great Barrier Reef, ultimately rescued by his father.
11. The Little Prince
This layered story is told so beautifully with so many lovely artistic techniques that our whole family was captivated. Some of the ideas are sophisticated, so there were questions from the kids during the movie, but a few simplified answers satisfied our whole crowd.
12. Charlotte’s Web
This isn’t the cartoon version you grew up with but it’s so adorable you’ll love it just as much. Bonus: Julia Roberts is the soothing voice of Charlotte.
13. The Black Stallion
I LOVED this movie as a kid and my crew enjoyed it just as much. The early scenes are the scariest, when a ship carrying the stallion and Alec catches fire, but after that, it’s a captivating story.
This is what happens when a bear tries to relocate from his home in the Peruvian rain forest to London. It’s a little sad when he’s separated from his aunt and uncle in the beginning, plus a few harrowing parts when Nicole Kidman’s character tries to capture him but it’s all mild and totally worth it.
15. Happy Feet
Emperor penguins each have a distinctive song but this little guy can’t sing…he can tap dance instead. We really enjoyed this movie about being different and still finding your way.
16. Beauty and the Beast
Did you know that Emma Watson could sing? Well she can, and she’s amazing. The whole story is gorgeously told with sweeping scenery you’ll love. Beware the scenes when the townspeople storm the castle but otherwise enjoy.
In a land of giants, there’s one Big Friendly Giant, who ends up making friends with an orphan. There are a few scary giants though, so this one is best to watch together.
What could go wrong when a giant, slobbering St. Bernard moves into your family home? Bad guys do try to dog-nap him, but the action is mild.
An outcast chicken farmer trains his naughty dog to protect the dwindling number of penguins living on an island sanctuary off the coast of Australia.
Our kids have read (or heard) the books so none of the drama was a surprise to them. Instead, they were amazed at this tale come to life. If your kids are small like ours, expect questions but the climactic scene when the White Witch torments Aslan is less scary than the animated version.
21. A Dolphin Tale
Harry Connick Jr and Ashely Judd star in this surprisingly charming story about rescuing a dolphin after its tail is seriously injured.
22. Ice Age
Another movie that came out in another era — called Before Kids — this very funny animated story is a favorite with my kids now. Ray Romano is perfect as the downcast mammoth.
23. Peanuts Movie
Because our kids have loved all the Charlie Brown movies as much as I did in my day, we saw this one in the theater. Awesome!
24. Because of Winn Dixie
When my third-grader’s teacher suggested she read this book about a girl who goes to the grocery store and comes home with a dog, we offered to watch the movie together when she was done. Instant hit! Plus, there’s just something irresistible about Jeff Daniels.
When all four of my kids watched this movie from start to finish, no one was more surprised than me. There’s not much singing or dancing but there’s still something amazing about this little girl.
Simple Recipes for Family Dinner & a Movie Night
This summer we splurged on an outdoor movie setup (including an outdoor screen and projector) that’s so fun I can hardly describe it (plus it works inside too!) The kids pull out beanbags and sleeping bags, snuggle in and get cozy. There’s popcorn and wine (depending on which row you’re sitting in) and the whole thing is hard to beat.
Dinner is typically finger food OR something that’s served in a bowl for easy access. A few of our kids’ favorites:
- Easy Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
- Apple Jack Sandwiches
- Easy Veggie Calzones
- Magical Mac & Cheese (with Hidden Veggies)
- Toasted Turkey, Salami & Cheese Grinders
More Instant animated family classics
If there’s any chance you haven’t seen these yet, they’re wonderful. For the whole family:
Plus 80’s Movies kids love
These 80’s classics are on our list but I can’t vouch for them yet (plus some have more adult content than we’re ready for).
- Kindergarten Cop
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
- The Princess Bride
- The Sandlot
- The Mighty Ducks Trilogy
- Back to the Future Trilogy
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