classic movies to watch with little ones

I have three little brothers whose ages range from 5 to 10.  As expected, they’re a real handful and sometimes the only way to settle them down is to let them watch a movie or a couple episodes of a favorite TV show.  While we have a rather large collection of animated films in our basement, sometimes I prefer to not let them rot their brain with ‘Thomas & Friends’…but most of the other movies we own are ‘old’ (pre-1970s).  Thankfully, there are some classic films that my little brothers genuinely enjoy and I thought I’d list them in this post so if any of you have younger siblings, you can benefit as well.


The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Daring heroes, beautiful maidens, plenty of swashbuckling action, and all in glorious Technicolor.  What’s not to love?  I’ve yet to meet a little boy who didn’t love Robin Hood.


The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Now, this was the recommendation of my ten-year-old brother – I’m not sure how much the two youngest like it, because there’s relatively little action.  But still.  Mag7 is my favorite movie of all time, so I had to include it on this list.


Room for One More (1952) – One (mostly) common denominator of the classic films that my little brothers enjoy is that they usually include children their age.  ‘Room for One More’ has plenty of kids who misbehave (always a fascinating thing for my brothers, for whatever reason) and it’s a favorite in our house.


The Sound of Music (1964) – More children…  And the songs are classics for a reason.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952) –  As you may have guessed, my whole family loves musicals, and that includes my younger siblings.  There’s something about the energetic songs, colorful dance numbers, and heightened reality of musicals that appeals to most children.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) – So much action and excitement!  I remember seeing this when I was very young indeed and some scenes, like where the cannibals are electrocuted, left such an impression on me. (Not always an entirely good impression, though.)  I’d also say that almost any live-action Disney film from the fifties/sixties is great for children (except ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’, which scarred me so badly as a child).


The Proud Rebel (1958) – I asked my little brothers to give me movies that I could add to this post and Ethan (who’s 7) said, “Oh!  That movie where the boy is deaf and then when his dad’s about to get shot, he yells.”  At first, I was a little stymied, but I ended up realizing what movie he was talking about.  And he’s right.  ‘The Proud Rebel’ is a great movie for little ones (there’s a young boy and a dog).


The Court Jester (1956) – Danny Kaye silliness.  Need I say more?


Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959) – Another Jules Verne adaption that stars James Mason!  Only this time, he’s a good guy and the film wasn’t put out by Disney.  It’s very fun and colorful and entertaining, though.  It’s a movie my older siblings and I watched all the time when we were younger and we still quote it frequently.


So, yes, that’s my list.  Do let me know if your little siblings love any of these!

(Also, a note on old TV shows: my little brothers love Combat!, Rat Patrol, F Troop, Get Smart, and Gilligan’s Island.  So classic television is another great viewing option.)



31 thoughts on “classic movies to watch with little ones

  1. I love The Court Jester, but I rarely find anyone else who has seen it! I have yet to introduce it to my nieces and nephews, but they do love Sound of Music. Just last week, my 3-year-old niece was running around singing all the words to “Do, a deer”. So glad that there are some classics they can enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My whole family (grandparents included) has seen and enjoyed The Court Jester. Danny Kaye isn’t my favorite person to watch, but it’s a good movie. (Basil Rathbone makes everything better.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Samantha Ellis

    Of course these may or may not be up your little brothers’ alleys, but if I had a little sister I would undoubtedly show her some Esther Williams and Shirley Temple movies. Maybe as musical fans they would enjoy the color and excitement of those too!


  3. My little people love The Adventures of Robin Hood and Singin’ in the Rain, and they like The Sound of Music too. They’re definitely in the “kids in a movie make us like it better” camp, so they also love Meet Me in St. Louis and Little Women and The Swiss Family Robinson.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pretty sure I’ve never actually seen any of these in full. I’ve seen significant chunks of The Sound of Music and would like to see it in full someday, and I’ve seen parts of the Magnificat Seven, but that’s about it.

    Mary Poppins is another good one.


  5. MovieCritic

    Singin’ in the Rain, and The Adventures of Robin Hood are in my top five! I also love The Court Jester, but I only saw it once a long time ago.


  6. Gabby A.

    I have yet to meet a little boy who doesn’t like Robin Hood, either. 😉

    The Sound of Music is a classic, definitely! We used to watch Swiss Family Robinson, and The Little Riders and Treasures of the Snow when we were little, too. 🙂


  7. Thanks for a well-written blog! Like many of your other commenters, my family runs more to little girls (or did). They are having children of their own now. For my money, The original Parent Trap was a favorite even into adulthood. The Sound of Music seems to work for both boys and girls and The Court Jester does too. Catch my Queen of the Lot blog at:


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