Stories have the power to convey subtle messages to people. Isn’t that why stories have always been the means of preachers to easily send a message across. Jesus conveyed his message through parables, Buddhist monks preached “Dhamma” to the people through the Jataka tales, the humorous Mulla Nasruddin stories embodies Sufi teachings and Vishnu Sharma sought to impart the principles of “Niti” to the 3 ignorant Princes through the Panchatantra tales.

But now movies have overtaken orally narrated stories as the primary source of entertainment for children. So why not make the best of the situation and use what we have to convey some good messages across to our children.

So this is a list of 6 movies which in my opinion has a good value to teach to children, and of course they are quite entertaining. No, i have not watched all the animated movies in the world, so I may have left some good ones out. (Please leave in the comments any other movie which you think worthwhile) Nevertheless here goes, 5 movies that children should watch, in no particular order.

1. Cars

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This 2006 animated movie is about a world filled with anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. It is about a race car trying to win a race. Problem is, he knows only to win a race and nothing else. Sounds familiar, right? I mean, who in this social media age is not running a race? And many of us may not be lucky enough to get an intervention like Lightning Mc Queen. His encounters with Doctor Hudson, Sally and Mater, makes him understand the finer, better things in life. Which leads to the climax, the true culmination point of his learnings. I might have watched the movie at least a dozen times. But every time, it never fails to draw tears.

2. Iron Giant

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Hogarth Hughes: [to the Giant, in battle mode] It’s bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.

A little known movie from 1999, this movie is about the friendship between a boy and an alien iron giant. Moral conflict has always been a core issue in most animated movies where the protagonist finally does the right thing. This is movie is no different. When a robot built to be a weapon, is faced with mortal threat, what will it choose to do – to behave as it is programmed to do or do what it feels it should do? This message can be interpreted with multiple layers of complexity and hence a good movie to show children and adults.

Considering that my children are seeing guns everyday, it is specially enheartening to hear them mouth the words above in their play time.

3. The Lion King

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Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

Young Simba: But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?

Mufasa: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

As a young child, I loved The Lion King and I still do. The Circle of Life is the reason why I put it in the list. But there are so many impactful scenes. In fact one of my most favourite scene of all times is the segment where Mufasa reprimands Simba after rescuing him from the elephant grave. It is a perfect Masala movie with laughter, sadness, love, family, betrayal etc.

4. Frozen

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Finally Disney has started rectifying the wrong that they had perpetuated though the decades from their first movie – Snow white and the seven dwarfs. Finally they have started making movies echoing contemporary thoughts and not just building on the fantasy and illusions spun around “Love”. Finally they made a movie, where “love at first sight” is not glorified, but actually teased at.

Anna: Oh well, it was all my fault. I got engaged, but then she freaked out because I’d only just met him, you know that day. She said she wouldn’t bless the marriage and…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?

Anna: Yes, pay attention, but the thing is she wore the gloves all the time, so I just thought, maybe she has a thing about dirt…

Kristoff: [Interrupts] Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?

And they also gave a new twist to the phrase “Act of true love”. Frankly one shouldn’t have been surprised by the twist. But the fact that movie makers have started considering other “acts of love” worth making movies about, is actually giving me goose bumps.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

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Animated movies have always been about the underdog, how David wins over Goliath. How good triumphs over evil. But recently there has been a slight shift in the portrayal of underdogs. For e.g., Despicable me was about a villain, Wreck it Ralph was about the “bad” game character, How to train your dragon was about the evil dragons. Just that once you get to know the motive behind their actions, it does not feel so evil anymore, and in fact you start sympathizing with them. I have always felt that this is the truth about our world. Nobody is particularly evil. Just that their lifestyle is different, it may sometimes clash with ours and that a little understanding and an open mind can do wonders in bringing peace.

6. Lorax

Dr. Seuss imaginative characters and alliterating rhymes have brought pleasure to many a young reader for many decades. His Seuss-isms are indeed a treasure chest full of fantastical rhymes and immeasurable meaning.

Like all good books which gets a movie adaptation, Lorax is one such movie based on the book of the same name. It tells the story of the Once-ler who had a great idea and built a whole new industry around it. But along the way, he forgot to – care. And what happens when finally someone does care… it is a fun movie with catchy songs and introduces children to the concept of pollution, deforestation etc.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

These are the 6 animated movies in English that children should watch (for their good message). I will follow this post soon with 5 live action movies in English on the same subject. Please feel free to name other movies in the comments section.

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