I love stories, especially love stories in movies that inspire me to make a difference. So this post is for those of us with elementary and teen aged children (and older) who want to have our children hear and watch stories that inspire them to make a difference. I am all about making paths from God to others and others to God. It’s what being a Pathmaker is all about (You can read about it in the Who We Are section of our website)!
When we watch movies that inspire us, we talk about them. We tell others. Essentially, we evangelize about that movie’s story. When we let the truth about Jesus sink in to our hearts and minds and understand the story, we tell others about His story, too. What a cool connection for children. After watching an inspirational movie as a family, you could ask these questions:
- What about that movie inspired or moved you?
- What did you learn from that movie?
- How would you tell this story to one of your friends?
- What part of Jesus’ life inspires you?
- Why is it important for us to share the story (and truth) about Jesus with others like we share the stories in our favorite movies?
“So,” you ask, “what movies can we watch with our children that will inspire them?” A friend of ours, Bob Waliszewski, has been training parents how to use and filter media for a very long time. He is an expert in this field and I respect him very much! He wrote some invaluable resources in 3 lists of his favorite movies. You can find them here (1), here (2), and here (3). I have chosen 20 of his favorites that have inspired me on my pathmaking journey and I want to share them with my kids. I hope this will be a fun resource for you, as well. If you click on the links below, they will take you to PluggedIn.com’s review of each movie I list.
GREAT FOR ELEMENTARY and OLDER:
- Inside Out (PG) This is a must-see for EVERY pre-teen parent and child about handling emotions and transition. It’s inspiring and practical!
- Queen of Katwe (PG) This is a wonderful story of a young girl who discovers a love for chess and changes her family’s life situation in Uganda by following her passion.
- Mom’s Night Out (PG) This is a fun family movie about the difference a mama makes (and the breaks she needs).
- The Peanuts Movie (G) This is the way a Peanuts movie should always be. It’s a light, fun movie about friendship and honesty and how we impact others.
- Hidden Figures (PG) This is a great, true story about what can happen when you work within your gifting, do the right thing, and respect one another beyond color.
- Because of Winn-Dixie (PG) This is a moving story about how a little girl and her dog influence their community.
- All Saints (PG) This is a story about how a local church can impact its community in Jesus’ name.
- Nim’s Island (PG) This is a story about a girl who’s adventures change another person’s life.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (PG) This is the first story in a series I think everyone should read and watch about four siblings and their adventures and growing together in their faith.
- Up (PG) This is a fabulous and fun story about two unlikely friends taking an adventure together and changing each other’s lives in the process.
- Wonder (PG) This is a heart-wrenching story about a boy who is striving to overcome social stigma from a facial disfigurement. It’s wonderful and inspiring.
- Soul Surfer (PG) This is the story of Bethany Hamilton’s life changing trauma and what God has done through her. I suggest preparing your children for this story ahead of time and only showing it to older children. The shark bite is pretty intense.
MOVIES TO CHALLENGE TEENS TO MAKE PATHS
- Risen (PG-13) This is a story of Jesus’ resurrection from the point of view of one of the soldiers at His crucifixion. Amazing! It’s perfect at Easter.
- Same Kind of Different as Me (PG-13) This story has some tragedy, so be prepared for talking about grief as well as our lives making an impact.
- The Letters (PG) This is a story about Mother Teresa and I put it in the teen section, because it can be difficult to see leprosy and someone seen as a spiritual icon struggling with her faith, but it’s powerful.
- The Case for Christ (PG) This is a story for a more mature audience and is a great introduction to reading the book The Case for Christ together with your teen. Watching the author’s backstory makes the book even more impactful.
- The Drop Box (NR) This is a documentary about Pastor Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, and their heart for babies who are unwanted. This couple really is saving lives and have a powerful ministry. You can learn more here: https://dropbox.focusonthefamily.ca/
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13) This is a fabulous story about a young boy who has to wrestle with prejudice as a child of a high-ranking military Nazi officer. One of my favorite movies that is like this one is called I Am David (PG). I recommend it as well!
- Luther (PG -13) This is the story of Martin Luther and his struggles and victories with God… talk about inspiring! We practice our faith in many ways because of this man’s influence. A couple questions about his film to discuss with your teen is: How would our understanding of a relationship with Jesus be different without Martin Luther’s life and influence? What do you want your legacy to be?
- Movie Marathon, anyone? How about a Noah’s Ark Themed Night? Evan Almighty (PG) is one of our family’s favorite movies. It’s fun and can provoke the conversation about what it looks like to follow God’s call today. Noah (PG-13) is flooded (pun intended) with controversy but what an amazing opportunity to talk with our children about what the Bible actually says and the world’s view of it. PluggedIn’s review is brilliant, so please take the time to read it (and maybe aloud to your teen) before watching the movie for some great perspective! Make an animal crackers, popcorn, and Swedish Fish snack mix, grab a soda and cuddle up for some great cinema.
Bob, thank you for your long-time ministry at PluggedIn. May we all follow your legacy using media to train and equip our children! -Beth