We prefer outdoor time to screen time at our house, but there are always those nights we wish to kick back and watch a movie together as a family.
We found a few refreshingly real movie (and short film) picks on Netflix that have encouraged great conversation with our son. Be warned, you may need tissues — many of these caused me to tear up.
I chose the following movies for a few reasons. They are all a much-welcomed break from my son’s usual requested cartoon choices and they encourage discussion and thinking about real-life situations. Many of them may be too slow paced for teeny tots. However, my son enjoyed most of them at three-years-old.
1. Boy and the World (TV-PG)
This colorfully-animated film is set in Brazil and follows the journey of a young boy. While this pick is a little heavy (touted as a “cautionary tale of globalization”) and not entirely uplifting, we found it to be a pleasurable watch. It appeals to the senses with beautiful colors, clever transitions and fantastic music. No words are spoken in the film allowing lots of opportunity to ask my son questions about what was happening or what the what the boy was feeling. The story does have a twist at the end making it worth watching twice.
2. Given (TV-PG)
This visually-breathtaking documentary tells the story of a surfer family traveling the world in search of the largest waves or the big fish (you will see!). It is likely to hold your little one’s attention as it is narrated by a young boy who recalls their adventures by sharing his parent’s wisdom and details about the people they meet along the way. This mama loves how the film encourages human connection and learning from others. Favorite quote from the film: “If mom’s and dad’s don’t pass on what they know, everything will be lost.”
3. The Prophet (TV-PG)
This animated film shares the story of a mother who follows her strong-willed daughter on her journey to help an honored, yet exiled poet. The movie is interwoven with stunning images and the beautiful poetry of Kahil Gibran, including one of my favorites, On Children: “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”
4. Kubo and the Two Strings (TV-PG)
This fun tale follows a young boy’s quest to find a magical suit of armor that will help him defeat the Moon King, his evil grandfather. My son particularly loves the humor in this one and I especially enjoy how it honors the importance of family and embodies the absolute strength of a mother’s love.
5. Golden Time (TV-Y)
The silent short tale of an unlikely friendship between a wind-up cat and an old television set in a junkyard. The television becomes discouraged after losing some of his parts and the cat tries to save him. After reflecting on his friend’s dedication, the television finds a renewed sense of purpose and ultimately is chosen for a new home. This film does feature a sensitive topic, yet brought up a lot of discussion for us around the importance of friendship, finding our purpose, and not giving up!
6. The House of Small Cubes (TV-G)
I saved the real tearjerker for last! This short film is about an old man who keeps building onto his home due to rising water. He drops his pipe into the water, and while searching for it, he recalls memories from his life on each floor of the home. Starting with meeting his late wife, through their marriage, and the birth of their daughter, this film is a reminder to enjoy each precious, sweet moment of our lives.
Top Photo Credit: bbernard/Shutterstock