When you’re a kid, the idea of learning anything about world history might seem more like, well, boring. Luckily, there are a ton of historical movies out there that can both educate and entertain your little ones on important topics. From following the stories of real-life inventors to watching world-famous heroes embark on harrowing quests, there’s plenty of material Hollywood has had to work with over the years. But, of course, the bigger task is figuring out which movies are suitable for kids that won’t accidentally scar them for life. (After all, as essential as learning history may be, there are definitely dark and gloomy parts that need to be navigated delicately.)
But how do you know which historical movies fit the bill? While the final decision ultimately rests with each parent, it’s always helpful to have a general guideline of possible suggestions that can make the trip down the historic rabbit hole informative and a lot of fun (without being too scary) for everyone. involved. As always, many movies take a few liberties with a few details to help amp up the fun factor, so finding something 100% accurate is a little hard to come by. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of good lessons to be learned about various story elements – both the good and the bad.
So if you’re looking for movies that offer a much-needed blast from the past, look no further. The choices below are lessons in cinematic history, albeit a little Creative on time.
Historical movies for the whole family to get you started
1. An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Must Win (2016)
Unfortunately, racial injustice is still a very real problem in today’s society. While some parents may be reluctant to present such a burning issue to their children, it’s a topic that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s also what makes this film such a good option, because while it tackles racial discrimination during the civil rights movement, it does so through the eyes of a young African-American girl, Melody Ellison (Marsai Martin). In doing so, he showcases the hope and resilience she brings to his community.
2. The sound of music (1965)
While it’s easy to focus solely on the love story between Captain von Trapp and Maria, this iconic film also delves into the Nazi takeover of Austria during World War II and the risks (and sacrifices) made by those who had the courage to try to resist. It’s definitely a weighted topic to put into a movie — and a musically leaning topic, to boot. Still, the unique combination is what makes it ideal viewing for children.
3. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more spiritual subject, the story of Moses and his quest to free his people from Egyptian slavery is a great place to start. Between the educational subject matter and the powerful songs that accompany it (the soundtrack features Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and more), this is truly an underrated Disney triumph that deserves to be seen by people. of all ages.
4. Night at the museum (2006)
OK, so the whole statues and exhibits coming to life at night thing is not the most accurate description of the story. However, it does offer a useful glimpse into the lives of several iconic characters from the past, which may give your kids a better appreciation for those who made this country (and this world) truly great.
5. A league apart (1992)
That’s right, my friends. This classic ’90s baseball movie, which stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, is actually full of real-life stories. While many of the characters are mostly works of fiction, the plot of how and when the first-ever All-American Girls Professional Baseball League came into being is pretty specific. Yes, that means the Rockford Peaches did exist, which should make your viewing experience all the more fascinating as you watch their very first season unfold. You will laugh. You will cry. (I’m kidding about that last part – everyone knows there’s no crying in baseball!)
More historical options to add to your queue
Although the choices above are all relatively safer for younger children, the following list contains historical films more appropriate for older children. Common Sense Media’s recommended age ratings and age ranges for viewers will help you size up this list at a glance.
- Ruby Bridges (1998) – PG, ages 10+
- Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History (2019) – TV-PG, ages 10+
- Apollo 13 (1995) – PG, ages 12 and up
- Miracle (2004) – PG, 8+
- hidden numbers (2016) – PG, ages 10+
- Anne Frank’s diary (1959) – NR, ages 12 and up
- Kit Kittredge: An American (2008) — G, 6+
- fiddler on the roof (1971) – G, 10+
- The sword in the stone (1963) – G, 5+
- News (1992) – PG, 9+
- Remember the titans (2000) – PG, 10+
- The greatest showman (2017) – PG, ages 10+
- The Miracle Worker (1962) – NR, ages 10 and up
- Valiant (2005) — G, 6+
- American legends (2002) — G, 5+
- Miracle of the White Stallions (1963) – G, 5+
- Johnny Tremain (1957) – NR, ages 11 and up
- Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014) – PG, ages 6 and up
- Secretariat (2010) – PG, 8+
- I am David (2005) – PG, 9+
- Harriet (2019) — PG-13, ages 12 and up
- Hugo (2011) – PG, 8+
- 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (2013) – PG-13, ages 11 and up
- Apollo 13 (1995) – PG, ages 12 and up
- The color of friendship (2000) – TV-G, ages 9 and up
- Bird Street Island (1997) – PG-13, ages 12 and up