Garrett's Gift

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Garrett's Gift Movie Poster Image
Smart animation introduces African-American inventor.
  • G
  • 2007
  • 20 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Tells the biography of Garrett Morgan, an African-American man who invented the traffic light.

Positive Messages

Everyone has a gift; it takes time to find out what you're good at; giving back matters.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Garrett is a curious daydreamer who eventually finds his calling. His parents encourage him to use the gifts he has, insist on educating him in a way that's suited to his mind, and support his different style of thinking and problem-solving even though it doesn't fit in with the family's needs.

Violence & Scariness

Mild suspense when two cars almost crash; Garrett almost burns his hand on a hot tray of cookies.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Garrett's Gift is a thoughtful, inspirational look at the history of famous inventor Garrett Morgan and the origins of his idea for the traffic light. Kids will learn about his childhood, where the clumsy boy was often daydreaming, and how his offbeat way of looking at things led to a significant advancement in safety. There are a few moments of near accidents (car crash, a near burning of hands on a plate of cookies) that provide the backdrop for Morgan's ideas. Great educational value for young kids about significant achievements by African-Americans and a discussion of where ideas come from.

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What's the story?

Garrett Morgan had his head in the clouds when he was younger. He wasn't good at building things, and he was often clumsy. He couldn't lift heavy things, and he often almost hurt himself by not thinking clearly while he was daydreaming. He felt useless, but eventually Garrett realized, with his parents' encouragement, that a great, questioning mind -- even one that meanders -- can produce brilliant ideas, and soon a near car crash would lead to one of the most famous inventions by an African-American. 

Is it any good?

Narrated by Queen Latifah, this short movie is a great primer on the history of a famous African-American inventor and on the fascinating places where ideas originate. At only 20 minutes, it's the perfect length for young minds; even preschoolers will be engaged by the notion of daydreams leading to important discoveries and will appreciate the reassurance that even those of us who aren't sure what we're good at can find our own talents.

That would be enough to recommend this thoughtful, vividly animated foray into the genesis of ideas, but it goes one step further by looking at how important it is not only to find our gifts but to use them for good and to give back to the communities that nurture us. There's a lot packed into this information-filled short and plenty for discussion and inspiration afterward.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies about inventions. Why do you think we love learning how inventions are conceived?

  • Have you ever invented anything? What was it? Did it work? Why, or why not? What would you do differently?

  • Have you ever been bad at something and realized it made you good at something else, the way Garrett did? What was it?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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