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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Shaun the Sheep Movie Movie Poster Image
Tons of barn-animal fun in sweet stop-motion adventure.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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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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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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Despicable Me Movie Poster Image
Clever, funny, and sweet villain-with-a-heart-of-gold tale.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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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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Inside Out Movie Poster Image
Beautiful, original story about handling big feelings.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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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 (1994) Movie Poster Image
Musical king-of-the-beasts blockbuster is powerful, scary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1994)
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March of the Penguins Movie Poster Image
Stunning, loving documentary; some intense peril.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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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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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 has wonderful songs -- and a few 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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Coco Movie Poster Image
Stunningly animated, poignant tribute to family and culture.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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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 Nightmare Before Christmas Movie Poster Image
Tim Burton magic with just a touch of scariness.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1993)
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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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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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Science Fair Movie Poster Image
Compelling, entertaining docu about teen science geniuses.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Movie Poster Image
Pure, sweet imagination for both kids and adults.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1971)
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Movie Poster Image
Excellent, intense adventure has thrills, humor, heart.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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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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Remember the Titans Movie Poster Image
Inspiring football drama brings history to life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2000)
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Wonder Movie Poster Image
Earnest, emotional book adaptation has strong messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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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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Whale Rider Movie Poster Image
Excellent, gorgeous drama with uplifting messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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