What are you watching tonight? These days, that’s the question on everyone’s lips — and in the weeks at home ahead, we’re going to have to get a little creative. So, have you considered the oft-overlooked category of documentaries for some family-friendly fun? Documentaries can be just as exciting and entertaining as narrative films, so they’re the perfect unexplored terrain to watch with your kids. Documentaries can be both educational and emotionally powerful, and sometimes, it takes watching a true story to really hit home.
Children of all ages love movies about animals, especially exotic ones from different parts of the world. Chimpanzees, bears and African cats all have their own movies. Learning about animals and their habitats will most likely inspire your kids to realize how important taking care of the earth really is.
But not all documentaries are about animals. Some are about astonishing, brave people like Miles Scott, a 5-year-old cancer patient who dreams of being a superhero in the movie Batkid Begins. He Named Me Malala is about Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was attacked by the Taliban in Pakistan simply for saying that girls should go to school. Documentaries like these will open your child’s eyes to the difficult experiences some kids go through and hopefully help them appreciate their own lives even more — and at a time like this, we need to foster a sense of global community more than ever.
Here are our favorites. We’ve also recommended the ages we found appropriate to view each documentary, after screening them ourselves. Happy watching!
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A version of this article was originally published May 2020.