Revealed: The top 50 films every kid should see before they grow up

Poppins... among the 50 movies every kid should see before they grow up - Credit: Disney
Poppins… among the 50 movies every kid should see before they grow up – Credit: Disney

Whether it’s weeping as ET finally gets to go home, or stepping in time with Burt and his chimney sweep chums in ‘Mary Poppins’, there are certain films that just encapsulate childhood.

And so the 50 films you should make sure are ticked off the list before the age of 11 have been selected by a panel of industry experts and film education specialists.

Criteria for a place in the list included the ‘timeless factor’, as well as ‘creativity, diversity, and the ability to tackle moral complexities and teach life lessons’, according to the cultural education charity Into Film, which compiled it.

250 movies were shortlisted, from a catalogue of 3000 family movies, before the final 50 were whittled down.

(Credit: Universal)
(Credit: Universal)

Among them are classics like ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Swallows and Amazons’, ‘The Princess Bride’ and ‘Mary Poppins’, alongside more modern masterpieces like ‘Toy Story’, ‘Spirited Away’, ‘The Iron Giant’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’.

Split into categories, here are the 50 movies in full (and in no particular order)…


101 Dalmatians (1961), Babe; The Gallant Pig (1995), Dumbo (1941), Mary Poppins (1964), Nanny McPhee (2005), Oliver! (1968), The Iron Giant (1999), The Jungle Book (1967), The Secret Garden (1993), Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971).

Thrills & Chills

A Little Princess (1995), Coraline (2009), Hotel Transylvania (2012), Jumanji (1995), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), Star Wars; A New Hope (1977), The Gruffalo (2009), The Witches (1990), Wallace and Gromit; The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Zootropolis (2016).

(Credit: Sony)
(Credit: Sony)


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), Night at the Museum (2006), Paddington (2014), Shaun The Sheep Movie (2015), The Adventures of TinTin (2011), The Never-Ending Story (1984), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), Toy Story (1995), Trolls (2016), Up (2009).

Kids Rule!

Annie (1982), Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010), E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), Free Willy (1993), Home (2015), Hook (1991), How To Train Your Dragon (2010), Matilda (1996), Swallows and Amazons (2016), The BFG (2016).

Heroes & Villains

Beauty and the Beast (1991), Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), Frozen (2013), Shrek (2001), Space Jam (1996), Spirited Away (2001), The LEGO Movie (2014), The Lion King (1994), The Lorax (2012), The Princess Bride (1987).

The campaign’s ambassador Denise Van Outen said: “Nothing beats movie night in our family. I love watching my daughter Betsy become totally absorbed in a storyline.

“It’s always fun showing her films that I used to watch as a little girl and then sharing our favourite scenes and characters. I’m certain film’s ability to take us to far off places and other worlds helps children develop empathy and imagination.”

Into Film, supported by the British Film Institute with cash from the National Lottery, organises film clubs in schools, colleges and youth groups, as well as film festivals and awards events aimed specifically at educating children in the world of movies.

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