A Short Field Guide to Watching Movies with My Daughters

I’m sure that mine is a common story in this neighbourhood.  Weekly family routines feel excruciating at times. Much like that wheely turny thing in the park, once we’re all on it and somebody starts pushing there’s no turning back. School, work, extracurriculars keep the week spinning. And then comes Friday evening. I’m not sure when we developed it, but Friday night in our household is movie night and for my two daughters it has become almost sacred.

Food is exactly the same each week. A black bean, spinach, coriander what-not-mix with salsa and blue tortilla chips AND a movie. There is no thinking about the food, but the movie picking can be somewhat challenging. No doubt, there’s a lot out there. Just between Netflix and iTunes we’ve managed to keep this tradition up for a couple of years.

This is not to say that every Friday night our family sits down to quality films (note the word movie in the title). I’ve discovered that although our kids may not be so used to gender specific dialogue that subversively specifies roles for girls, there’s still a lot of it out there. Needless to say, My Little Pony has not made the cut.

So it is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’m making these suggestions; having no professional film making experience and living with Neil Burns as one of my close neighbors. But in taking time to think about this process, I’ve realized that we seem to have a bit of a field guide that helps us recognize a great movie, or at least an entertaining one..

These are the measurement sticks that we use.


Magic, kindness, quirkiness, tension (this one is a bit hard on my 5 year old so it needs to be in small doses at times), beauty AND strong child narratives sometimes told from their own perspective.  A big help for us in finding these has been the website A Mighty Girl.  It’s got all kinds of movie lists to start from.

There are movies that I would have loved to put on this list, but could not in good faith because my daughter’s and I don’t seem to have the exact same taste and this is their list too.

Ok, here it goes. Fifteen movies in no particular order:

Song of the Sea


Ballet Shoes Ballet_Shoesparenttrapreview

My Neighbour Totoro


The Gabby Douglas Story


The Secret Garden


Saving Luna


The Parent Trap


Marley and Me


Because of Winn Dixie


Fly Away Home


A Little Princess

images princessreview

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