50 Classic movies every kid should see by age 10

by Megan Zander
Dec 24, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Movie theaters are always showing the latest in special effects, but just because a movie is new doesn't mean it's better than those that came before it. Films from before the year 2000 might lack sophisticated computer graphics, but they make up for it with engaging storylines and jokes that still pepper our pop culture landscape.

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Here are 50 must-see classic movies for kids ages 10 and under that have stood the test of time and are still just as entertaining as the day they hit the big screen.

1 /51: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1/51 :E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a must-see for kids of all generations. The film helps counteract the notion that all aliens are evil and scary, and now your kids will finally get the joke when you toss them your cell and tell them to "phone home."

2 /51: Mary Poppins

2/51 :Mary Poppins

Nanny McPhee may have some cool tricks up her sleeve, but all kids should know that only Mary Poppins can clean a nursery, make medicine taste better and take you on cartoon adventure with a dancing chimney sweep — all without breaking a sweat.

3 /51: Singin' in the Rain

3/51 :Singin' in the Rain

Most kids use a rainstorm as a chance to go romping in puddles, but after watching Singin' in the Rain you might catch them throwing a little soft-shoe in with their splashing.

4 /51: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

4/51 :Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Your kids may be familiar with the recent remake, but the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is still a must-see. It has fantastic songs sung by children to inspire any young performer and great movie special effects that will leave kids wondering how the moviemakers turned Violet into a blueberry without the use of computer. 

5 /51: The King and I

5/51 :The King and I

With catchy songs and beautiful costumes, The King and I is a timeless film that will capture your child's imagination and introduce them to the idea that cultures around the world can vary greatly.

6 /51: The NeverEnding Story

6/51 :The NeverEnding Story

The NeverEnding Story resonates with all kids, but especially those who love to curl up with a good book. Parents should be warned that side effects of watching this movie may include your child wearing a necklace on their forehead in honor of the Childlike Empress and repeated requests for a pet dragon. 

7 /51: The Sandlot

7/51 :The Sandlot

Between the mystery of the Beast, a step-by-step tutorial on how to make s'mores and a touching story about the power of friendship, The Sandlot is a film that your children will remember for-ev-errr.

8 /51: Little Monsters

8/51 :Little Monsters

If your child is at the age where fart jokes are hilarious, then Little Monsters is the perfect introduction to movies that can be a little bit scary. With a core message of sibling love, this film will leave your child laughing and ready to go to sleep without having to check under the bed for an all-clear.  ac

9 /51: The Princess Bride

9/51 :The Princess Bride

Romance, suspense and a whole lot of laughs, The Princess Bride is a movie the whole family can watch (and quote!) over and over again. Just watch out for those R.O.U.Ses.

10 /51: Aladdin

10/51 :Aladdin

They may not understand that the late Robin Williams was the voice of Genie, but kids will love Aladdin for its flying carpet and friendly tiger, the strong and opinionated Princess Jasmine and the idea that it's what's on the inside of a person that really counts. 

11 /51: The Sound of Music

11/51 :The Sound of Music

Every child should watch The Sound of Music, even if it's only to learn how to sing a proper scale.  A screening of this film may lead to having an uninvited guest in your bedroom the next time there's a thunderstorm, but it will give you a perfect chance to practice your duet!

12 /51: Fantasia

12/51 :Fantasia

The short, unscripted cartoons in Fantasia serve as a wonderful way to introduce children of any generation to famous classical music compositions.


13 /51: It's a Wonderful Life

13/51 :It's a Wonderful Life

The movie It's a Wonderful Life may be in black and white, but its message of appreciating the good things in life is always in style.

14 /51: Annie

14/51 :Annie

The tale of Annie and her rise from hopeful orphan to a girl with the family she always dreamed of is a feel-good movie no child should miss. Sure, you could watch a newer remake of this classic film, but there's something special about sharing a movie with your child that you yourself adored as a kid.

15 /51: Cinderella

15/51 :Cinderella

If you're looking for an iconic fairy-tale princess, then Cinderella has got you covered. No child's fairy-tale education is really complete until they see just how tricky it is to run while wearing glass slippers.

16 /51: The Wizard of Oz

16/51 :The Wizard of Oz

Although it was released more than 75 years ago, The Wizard of Oz has scenes to delight children of every generation: unpredictable weather, a battle between good and evil, a quest to meet the mysterious wizard and one awesome pair of shoes. 

17 /51: A Little Princess

17/51 :A Little Princess

Looking for a positive role model for your own little princess? A Little Princess may be an older film, but the themes of staying strong and being true to yourself are still current.

18 /51: The Secret of NIMH

18/51 :The Secret of NIMH

Don't let the simple animation style fool you — The Secret of NIMH is a fantastic adaptation of a classic children's novel that will make your child wonder about the limits of science.

19 /51: Swiss Family Robinson

19/51 :Swiss Family Robinson

A shipwreck, pirates and the coolest tree house ever make Swiss Family Robinson a great film for every young adventurer. 

20 /51: Beauty and the Beast

20/51 :Beauty and the Beast

With a positive message about the power of inner beauty, Beauty and the Beast is so much more than just a fairy-tale romance.

21 /51: Casper

21/51 :Casper

The spirit/human romance plot of Casper isn’t as racy as that in Ghost; it’s a touching look at puppy love and the bonds of family that last well beyond death.

22 /51: James and the Giant Peach

22/51 :James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach is an entertaining adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl book that will leave your child begging to read it, if they haven't already. The film’s stop-motion animation scenes will allow your child to see how cartoons looked before everything was created on computers.

23 /51: Free Willy

23/51 :Free Willy

An unlikely tale of friendship between a wayward boy and a captive orca whale, watching Free Willy with your child will leave you both feeling as though anything is possible. 

24 /51: Hook

24/51 :Hook

Hook answers the burning question: What would happen if Peter Pan grew up? With an all-star cast of Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts, this classic film is one both adults and kids will want to watch over and over again. 

25 /51: The Secret Garden

25/51 :The Secret Garden

This celebrated children's book makes a wonderful movie. The Secret Garden will spark your child's imagination and make them want to go outside and explore nature.

26 /51: The Little Mermaid

26/51 :The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid combines magic and romance in a coming-of-age cartoon that makes every child want to jump in the tub and pretend they live under the sea. 

27 /51: The Parent Trap

27/51 :The Parent Trap

Your child might be familiar with any of the various remakes of The Parent Trap, but the original tale of twins separated at birth who switch places has its own charm that makes it a must-see movie.

28 /51: Angels in the Outfield

28/51 :Angels in the Outfield

A heartwarming tale about hope and faith, Angels in the Outfield can simply be enjoyable evening entertainment or a great way to start a bigger discussion about spirituality with your child.

29 /51: The Black Stallion

29/51 :The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion is the perfect movie for any child who has a special bond with animals, horses or otherwise.

30 /51: Escape to Witch Mountain

30/51 :Escape to Witch Mountain

Escape to Witch Mountain is a delight for any child who’s wondered if they’re secretly from another planet.

31 /51: Jumanji

31/51 :Jumanji

In Jumanji, a young boy is trapped inside a board game that unleashes jungle plants and animals on unsuspecting players. One screening of this movie and your kids will never again complain about playing good old Monopoly.

32 /51: An American Tale

32/51 :An American Tale

A child's movie that gives a glimpse into what it was like to be an immigrant in the early 1900s. For a cartoon about a mouse, An American Tale has a ton of heart.

33 /51: The Nightmare Before Christmas

33/51 :The Nightmare Before Christmas

A stop-motion animation masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas blends a holiday tale with just a tiny bit of spookiness.

34 /51: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

34/51 :Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Three talking pets on a quest to find their owners make Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey a movie your kids will want to watch over and over again. Luckily, the DVD won’t wear out the way the VHS did when you were a child.

35 /51: Matilda

35/51 :Matilda

In this film adaptation that’s every bit as engrossing as the children’s novel, Matilda is the story of a young girl who uses her special powers to overcome adversity and find her own happiness.

36 /51: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

36/51 :Bedknobs and Broomsticks

A blend of live action and cartoon animation makes Bedknobs and Broomsticks a memorable movie for any generation.

37 /51: Labyrinth

37/51 :Labyrinth

Elaborate costumes, gigantic puppets, musical numbers and the wonder that is David Bowie’s hair make Labyrinth a movie your children will want to watch time and time again, and you’ll be just as eager to press play.

38 /51: Toy Story

38/51 :Toy Story

Thanks to a stream of successful sequels and plenty of branded merchandise your child is probably already familiar with Woody, Buzz and their gang. But a viewing of the original Toy Story will help them learn where the story first began. 

39 /51: A Christmas Story

39/51 :A Christmas Story

Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, after watching A Christmas Story your kids will have a frame of reference for all Grandpa’s stories about growing up.

40 /51: Babe

40/51 :Babe

Talking farm animals and a lovable piglet are what make Babe a film kids still adore.

41 /51: Heidi

41/51 :Heidi


A Shirley Temple classic, Heidi tells the story of an anti-social man who goes to great lengths to rescue his granddaughter from an unkind caretaker. The film will particularly resonate with kids who have a close relationship with a grandparent.

42 /51: All Dogs Go to Heaven

42/51 :All Dogs Go to Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a memorable animated film that deals with the concept of death in a sensitive way that children can process.

43 /51: The Wizard

43/51 :The Wizard

If your kid is a big fan of video games, The Wizard will let them imagine what it’s like to be the best player in the world. It also has plenty of classic Nintendo scenes so Mom and Dad can wax nostalgic on their own days as young gamers.

44 /51: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

44/51 :Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

One of the very first Disney princess films, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has songs your child won’t be able to stop singing and a cast of lovable dwarfs. Side effects of viewing may include a temporary suspicion of apples.

45 /51: Lady and the Tramp

45/51 :Lady and the Tramp

It may be a cartoon, but Lady and the Tramp contains an excellent message of never judging a person before you get to know them. The iconic spaghetti-and-meatballs scene is sure to make the next time your family eats pasta highly entertaining.

46 /51: Home Alone

46/51 :Home Alone

So much more than a holiday movie, Home Alone lets kids imagine what it would be like to be on their own and outsmarting bad guys. It has classic slapstick comedy that adults will love as much as their children.

47 /51: The Land Before Time

47/51 :The Land Before Time

Friendship and adorable animated dinosaurs are what make The Land Before Time just as watchable as it was when it was released in 1988.

48 /51: The Muppet Movie

48/51 :The Muppet Movie

Kermit and his friends might have a new sitcom, but the original The Muppet Movie will take your kids back to where it all began, and let them see what things were like when Miss Piggy was the only swine in town.

49 /51: State Fair

49/51 :State Fair

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair will introduce kids to one of the first, and arguably the best, classic musical films.

50 /51: 101 Dalmations

50/51 :101 Dalmations

The delightfully evil Cruella de Vil and a ton of adorable puppies make 101 Dalmatians an animated classic that stands the test of time.

51 /51: 50 classics your kids just have to see

51/51 :50 classics your kids just have to see

From the original Annie to E.T., a guide to movie night with the kids.