Top 10 Classic Movies Every Child Should See

Every child deserves the basic necessities of life: food, water, clothing, shelter … and Willy Wonka. Yes, that would be Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as in the 1971 movie.

One could argue that sanitation, education, and healthcare might rank higher. But that would make a mockery toward the intellect of the masterminds who gave us one of the greatest film treasures of all time. A picture which, more specifically, ranks as an indubitable number one on this Top 10 list of “Classic Movies Every Child Should See.”

First, let’s set a few things straight. What you’re reading is not some arbitrary, exaggerated best-of list. This record remains a legitimate source of cinematic truth, authenticated by years of practice as a former child and now current parent known for hosting the occasional movie night. My children even validated this list’s authority by once presenting me with a one-of-a-kind t-shirt that reads, “World’s Smartest Father.”

Image via Tom Konecny

Also, don’t consider this a bucket list of kids’ movies. That overused term implies things one would like to do before dying. This classic movies list is mandatory. Avoiding even one of them deprives your child the right to fully develop as the person they were intended to be.

That said, let’s not waste any time and get right to it!

1. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) 

It’s hard to find a movie that hits so close to home and teaches several life lessons. We all relate to the modesty of Charlie’s humble life, surrounded by nasty, narcissistic kids who think only of themselves. Yeah, candy will do that.

2. Star Wars (1977) 

The only reason this classic movie wasn’t ranked at the top was two reasons. A. I didn’t want this list to look too nerdish. And, B. Although many girls love SW every bit as much as boys, it’s often perceived – largely due to toys – as boys’ domain. But its pop culture influence is everywhere, and in a good way. Not even “Frozen” can say that.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) 

The only holiday movie to crack our list, Grinch proves that even the most hardened, scathing, stubborn, and angry individual can change. Alas, there’s still hope for your Uncle Ned.

4. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 

This landmark film has it all: fantastic character development, timeless songs, countless surprises, and an endearing storyline. It’s so good that someone should seriously consider making a book out of it. 

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5. Annie (1982) 


Musicals can sometimes turn off kids. But this one stars them, making it all that more desirable. Besides, kids need to know that there are other very wonderful hymns to be recited over and over and over again … songs not named “Let It Go.”

6. The Muppet Movie (1979) 

Computer-generated imagery has contributed so much to today’s film world. But there’s nothing like watching the old school simplicity of one person bringing another to life by controlling its words and movement, telling it what to say and do. But enough about politics.

7. Charlotte’s Web (1973) 

I don’t know many people who like spiders. But I’ll give credit to the makers of this movie, who somehow managed to make a spider seem completely lovable and adorable. Now, if someone could do the same for mice I’d be really impressed. Come to think of it … I think Walt Disney already did that.

8. Toy Story (1995) 

Speaking of Disney, it would be easy to plug nearly any one of its movies in this list, but Toy Story stands above the rest. This heartwarming tale was the first full-length, computer generated movie, and 20+ years later it has not aged a bit. It brings all of us back to our childhood when our parents constantly reminded us to pick up those toys

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9. Ratatouille (2007) 

Though not one of Pixar’s most beloved (or even over-marketed/publicized) films, it was one of the most critically acclaimed upon its release. The reviewers were right. It has the comfortable, charming appeal of a cherished storybook, and almost makes me content about the rodents scurrying in our own home.

10. The Sound of Music (1965) 

If your kids like music, this movie is for you. If your kids don’t like music, then they must be listening to One Direction. 

Which classic movies would you say are mandatory for your kids to watch?

What do you think?

Top 10 Classic Movies Every Child Should See

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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