50 Movies All Kids Should Watch Before They're 12

From classic musicals, princess tales, and animated animals to superhero adventures and holiday favorites, these must-see movies will appeal to the whole family. Like the newer films honored with our Common Sense Seal, these all-time favorites are not only hugely entertaining, but they're packed with positive messages and role models, giving them the potential for significant impact on kids and families. Some are cultural touchstones. Others give kids a look at other worlds -- both real and imaginary. Many will bring on gales of laughter, and some might lead to a few tears. But all are worthy of a comfy couch, a bowl of fresh popcorn, and some family togetherness.

 

Want more? Check out our Essential Movies Guide for sure-fire movie night winners.

Browse 50 Movies All Kids Should Watch Before They're 12

Charlotte's Web (2006) Movie Poster Image
Enchanting take on a beloved children's classic.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2006)
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Finding Nemo Movie Poster Image
Sweet father-son tale has some very scary moments.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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Frozen Movie Poster Image
Wintry Disney musical is fabulous celebration of sisterhood.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Lilo and Stitch Movie Poster Image
Cute story, great characters, fabulous soundtrack.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Poster Image
Beautifully animated fantasy about friendship fit for all.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1988)
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Toy Story (1995) Movie Poster Image
Pixar classic is one of the best kids' movies of all time.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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WALL-E Movie Poster Image
Brainy, charming, eco-friendly animated adventure.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2008)
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Babe Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming farm story is touching and a bit scary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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Beauty and the Beast Movie Poster Image
Disney fave has great music, strong messages, some scares.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1991)
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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Movie Poster Image
Adventurous animal tale will have kids riveted.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1993)
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The Iron Giant Movie Poster Image
Touching robot-kid friendship tale has great messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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The Lego Movie Movie Poster Image
Hilarious toy tale plugs product but is nonstop fun.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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The Lion King Movie Poster Image
Musical king-of-the-beasts blockbuster is powerful, scary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1994)
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Mary Poppins Movie Poster Image
World's coolest nanny celebrates family and fun.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1964)
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Miracle on 34th Street Movie Poster Image
Classic holiday movie for the whole family.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1947)
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Moana Movie Poster Image
Great characters, memorable music, some monsters/scares.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Modern Times Movie Poster Image
Families will cherish Chaplin's silent slapstick.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1936)
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The Muppet Movie Movie Poster Image
First Muppet movie is full of wonderful songs, plus guns.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1979)
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Shrek Movie Poster Image
Gross-out laughs meet a marvelous fairy tale mix.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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The Sound of Music Movie Poster Image
Outstanding family film features glorious music.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1965)
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The Wizard of Oz Movie Poster Image
Even decades later, one of the best family films ever made.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1939)
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Anne of Green Gables Movie Poster Image
Faithful, sensitive take on classic novel is great for kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1986)
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Elf Movie Poster Image
Elf
Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Movie Poster Image
Spielberg's family classic is still one of the best.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1982)
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Movie Poster Image
First Potter movie is a magical ride but also intense.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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How to Train Your Dragon Movie Poster Image
Thrilling 3D adventure sends brains-over-brawn message.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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The Incredibles Movie Poster Image
Top-notch, action-packed fun for the entire family.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2004)
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The Indian in the Cupboard Movie Poster Image
Classic, heartwarming fantasy will rivet kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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James and the Giant Peach Movie Poster Image
Fabulous adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic book.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1996)
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A Little Princess Movie Poster Image
Wonderful adaptation of classic book; some scary moments.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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Song of the Sea Movie Poster Image
Beautiful Irish tale explores myths, sibling relationship.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi action classic perfect for sharing with kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1977)
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Akeelah and the Bee Movie Poster Image
Inspiring drama about a champion speller; OK for tweens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2006)
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Fly Away Home Movie Poster Image
Thrilling, touching adventure for animal lovers.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1998)
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Howl's Moving Castle Movie Poster Image
Charming Miyazaki fairy tale with surreal villains.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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Hugo Movie Poster Image
Spectacular book adaptation is great for tweens and up.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2011)
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Mad Hot Ballroom Movie Poster Image
Enchanting dance documentary hits all the right beats.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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The Princess Bride Movie Poster Image
Witty, winsome fairy tale for the whole family.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1987)
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Superman: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Super-nostalgic superhero adventure still soars.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1978)
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It's a Wonderful Life Movie Poster Image
This classic delivers warmth all year long.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1946)
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Spirited Away Movie Poster Image
Magnificent movie with scary creatures and a strong heroine.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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Children of Heaven Movie Poster Image
Excellent subtitled Iranian coming-of-age story.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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Hidden Figures Movie Poster Image
Inspiring true story of African-American women at NASA.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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A League of Their Own Movie Poster Image
Terrific story of women's baseball has great messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1992)
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October Sky Movie Poster Image
Inspiring tale for older tweens and up.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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Remember the Titans Movie Poster Image
Inspiring football drama brings history to life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2000)
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Napoleon Dynamite Movie Poster Image
One-of-a-kind high school comedy for the family.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2004)
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Sense and Sensibility Movie Poster Image
A lush and witty adaptation of Jane Austen's novel.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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Spider-Man Movie Poster Image
Fun movie, but may be too intense for younger kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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Whale Rider Movie Poster Image
Excellent, gorgeous drama with uplifting messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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