Which Classic Movies to Start with For Kids

Kristen Winiarski

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I recently wrote a post on why classic movies are good for kids, but you may wonder which movies to start with. I have small kids. My oldest is 4, so I’m steering away from Hitchcock right now, though a post on that may come up in the future. I love Rope, but it is not appropriate for my daughter at this point. I think musicals are a good place to start with kids. Both of mine love music and dancing, so those are usually a big hit. I did include a couple others below that are not musicals as well, but are comedies.

The Wizard of Oz

Why it’s great:

The Wizard of Oz is one movie that many kids see. I saw it as a kid and showed it to my daughter when she was pretty young. This movie has stood the test of time. There are some great songs and musical numbers. There are elaborate costumes. It is a feast for the ears and the eyes. Despite the problems they encountered while filming, it is a great movie. Toto is also a hit with my kids.

Judy Garland is one of my favorites. They originally wanted Shirley Temple, but ger voice could not even compare to Judy's.

My daughter loves this movie and my son at 2 years old is already beginning to like it as well. Her favorite was the tin man and wanted to watch his song over and over. It’s a fun story and a delight to watch.

Possible problem areas:

The Witch and flying monkeys can be scary for little kids. The Wizard may also be a problem. My daughter can watch those scenes now, but she did have me skip them when she was younger.

Singin in the Rain

Why it’s great:

Singin in the Rain is the movie that really kicked off my love of classic movies. I saw The Wizard of Oz since I was a child, but it didn’t inspire me to seek out other movies. Singin in the Rain did. My dad brought this movie home when I was home sick and from there, I needed to see other movies with Gene Kelly. From there, I developed a love for Frank Sinatra and a deeper appreciation for Judy Garland. It all just snowballed from this movie.

The musical numbers are fun to watch. My niece and nephew enjoy dancing along with Moses Supposes. My son also enjoys dancing to pretty much any song.

Possible problem areas:

Maybe when Debbie jumps out of a cake? Haha. I really can’t think of any. The “Beautiful Girl” number is pretty boring. I never really cared for that part.

High Society

Why it’s great:

This movie features 3 amazing singers of the time: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. It’s one of my favorite movies. I saw the scene with Frank and Bing's duet in the movie, That's Entertainment and I was hooked. It is also the last movie released featuring Grace Kelly. I think she's great in this role and I wonder where her career would have gone had she not left to become a princess.

Possible problem areas:

The drinking… The smoking…there are some adult themes with this movie, but the musical numbers are great.

Mary Poppins

Why it’s great:

This is another one of the classics that I saw as a child. Maybe because like The Wizard of Oz, it is actually marketed as a kid movie. It is imaginative, magical and a lot of fun! The animated section is really well done. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke play off each other so well. I am always intrigued by the fact that Mary and Bert knew each other before the movie. I would love to know that history.

Possible problem areas:

When the kids are running away from the bank, it can get pretty intense. My daughter also did not like Mr. Dawes, but she had a thing against old guys for quite a while. He's also intense and not nice to the kids.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Why it’s great:

I love Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra together. They play off each other really well. This is a fun movie. You can read more in-depth about this movie in this post. The musical numbers are fun, plus it has Esther Williams and Betty Garrett. The scenes with them actually playing baseball are pretty fun.

Possible problem areas:

Gene Kelly’s character is kind of a jerk, but then does reform. I don't really see any other issues with this one.

Monkey Business

Why it’s great:

Here’s another that is not a musical, but my daughter enjoys. She loves the monkey and finds it funny. Watching Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers act like kids is a lot of fun to watch. They are playful and silly. They bring so much energy to the movie and I never get tired of it.

Possible problem areas:

Maybe if kids have something against black and white movies, this one could be a hard sell. My daughter has started noticing that and brings it up sometimes. With this one though, she doesn't seem to mind. Must be the monkey!

White Christmas

Why it’s great:

White Christmas is a holiday staple in my house. It is a great one to start with for kids because it is fun and festive. Watching it every year as a tradition is a great way to celebrate Christmas.

Possible problem areas:

It is pretty annoying that Betty just leaves instead of confronting Bob, but kids probably won’t care about that as much as I do! I don't see any other issues with this one. My daughter has started asking about what's going on in the opening scene when they're in the war. Trying to explain that is a bit difficult, but we don't get into that too much at this point.

There you have it! There are plenty more out there for kids to watch, but this is a good start for younger kids. What old movies do your kids enjoy?

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On my page you will be able to find local news related to Wisconsin, parenting articles, articles on homeschooling and self-care and pieces about classic movies.

Menomonee Falls, WI
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