Film charity picks 50 great films kids need to see by the age of 11


Shrek - Credit: Archant

Film fans love lists. They love compiling the top ten films in different genres – lists of the best scenes, best lines, best endings. It provides a way for film fans to communicate, to express their enthusiasm for the art form they love.

Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Toy Story.

Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Toy Story.

It’s not just a pub-discussion either as respected film journals like Sight and Sound and Empire produce curated lists of the best films which combine both public vote and expert analysis. One of the reasons that lists exist is to provoke discussion – to spark debate for one side to passionately promote their choices of worthy films while the otherside defends their choices.

But, the big question remains what makes a great film? Clearly film education charity Into Film thinks it knows because it has come up with a list of 50 films that young film fans should watch before they reach the age of 11.

Casting an eye over the list you are rewarded with a mix of the obvious and the surprising. The list was compiled by a group of unnamed ‘leading film experts’ who have suggested films which most benefit a child’s development and creativity.

It measured films such as E.T, Willy Wonka and Toy Story against a series of metrics including the impact on a child’s intellectual, educational and emotional development, as well as a nostalgia factor for parents.

Jungle Book

Jungle Book - Credit: Archant

For the purposes of compilation the list was sub-divided into themes – classics, thrills and chills, heroes and villains, kids rule and adventure – although the overlap between the categories is pretty large.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what’s on the list, we have to recognise that a best of list is more than a list of your favourite films. The Into Film 50 Best kids Films list is shaped by creativity and developmental concerns rather than just popularity.

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Our own weekly list of great films is compiled with a view to their rewatch value, historical significance, their critical reception as films, the actors’ performances and what the films have to say. Part of the selection process does take into account whether I enjoyed the films but it’s not an over-riding concern.

For example, I don’t particularly like the films of Martin Scorsese but I do admire his work and wouldn’t have any problem with putting The Gangs of New York (2002) on our list of great films of the past 30 years but it’s not a film that I would be desperate to see again.

Babe the sheep pig and Fly the Dog in Babe

Babe the sheep pig and Fly the Dog in Babe - Credit: BBC-1

Time is another important factor when compiling an all-time best of list. Sight and Sound won’t even consider a film for their all-time classic list unless ten years have passed since its release.

As expected animation plays a huge part in the list because both modern computer animation and traditionally drawn animation allows film-makers to explore a heightened universe. It can create stories and images which can inspire and set young minds (even old minds) thinking. Pixar and Disney take up many of the positions in the list including such all-time greats as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Lion King, Up, Frozen and even a relatively minor film like 101 Dalmatians.

That other animation giant Dreamworks has several entries films like Shrek, ET, The BFG, Wallace and Gromit.

No-one would argue with any of those inspired choices nor with films such as Babe, Nanny McPhee, Oliver, Paddington, The Princess Bride, The Witches or Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. However, there are some suggestions which do raise an eyebrow of surprise. How did movies like Hook or Jumanji make it onto the list? Or Secret Life of Pets or The Adventures of Tintin? The Never-Ending Story has not aged well nor has Space Jam.

The Lion King

The Lion King - Credit: PA

I am disappointed that Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride hasn’t made the grade because they display a tremendous amount of imagination, a different form of animation (stop-motion) and the fact it deals with dark subjects in an approachable way. Also, don’t forget that kids love to be scared.

Also, it’s important that kids don’t watch films alone – we need to encourage people to watch movies as a family. There’s nothing quite like seeing a movie through the excited eyes of a child. It takes us back to that magical moment when we first discovered how film can transform how we see the world.

The 50 Films Kids Must See Before They Are 11


Paddington - Credit: Archant

101 Dalmatians (1961)

A Little Princess (1995)

Annie (1982)

Wallace and Gromit

Wallace and Gromit - Credit: Archant

Babe: The Gallant Pig (1995)

Beauty And The Beast (1991)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Coraline (2009)


Frozen - Credit: Archant

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (2010)

Dumbo (1941)

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

Free Willy (1993)

Frozen (2013)

Home (2015)

Hook (1991)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

Jumanji (1995)

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Mary Poppins (1964)

Matilda (1996)

Nanny McPhee (2005)

Night At The Museum (2006)

Oliver (1968)

Paddington (2014)

Secret Life Of Pets (2016)

Shaun The Sheep Movie (2015)

Shrek (2001)

Space Jam (1996)

Spirited Away (2001)

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Swallows And Amazons (2016)

The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)

The BFG (2016)

The Gruffalo (2009)

The Iron Giant (1999)

The Jungle Book (1967)

The Lego Movie (2014)

The Lion King (1994)

The Lorax (2012)

The Never-Ending Story (1984)

The Princess Bride (1987)

The Secret Garden (1993)

The Witches (1990)

Toy Story (1995)

Trolls (2016)

Up (2009)

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (2005)

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Zootropolis (2016)

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