Movie experts from film education charity Into Film have drawn up a list of 50 must-watch movies that will help make children more creative, and stretch their imagination. From old classics like Mary Poppins to modern favourites including Shrek and Toy Story, here’s the shortlist.


“Film entertains, educates and inspires. The ‘Must See Movies Before You Grow Up’ list of the 50 films every child should see before they reach the age of 11 has been selected by our panel to do all of those things.”
Paul Reeve, CEO of Into Film

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1. Mary Poppins

2. The Lion King

Bring the movie to life by...getting out in your garden (the jungle of course) and act out your favourite scene as characters from the movie. Look out for Timon and Pumbaa.

3. Zootropolis

4. The Jungle Book

5. Beauty and the Beast

6. Toy Story

7. Frozen

8. Dumbo

9. 101 Dalmations

10. Up

“Nothing beats movie night in our family. I love watching my daughter Betsy become totally absorbed in a storyline. I'm certain that film's ability to take us to far-off places and other worlds helps children develop empathy and imagination."
Denise Van Outen, Ambassador for the campaign

11. The Iron Giant

12. Space Jam

13. The Never-Ending Story

14. The Secret Garden

15. The Witches

16. A Little Princess

17. The Lego Movie

Bring the movie to life by...building characters and scenes from the film - or even invent some new characters that could have starred in it.

18. Free Willy

19. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

20. Annie

21. Hook

Bring the movie to life by...turning your garden into Neverland. After all...who wants to grow up?

22. Hotel Transylvania

23. Matilda

24. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Bring the movie to life up a storm together in the kitchen with this easy Italian Meatballs recipe

25. Oliver!

26. Jumanji

27. How To Train Your Dragon

28. Home

29. Fantastic Mr Fox

30. Wallace and Gromit; The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

31. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

32. Night at the Museum

33. Star Wars: A New Hope

34. Shrek

35. Trolls

36. Paddington

37. Shaun The Sheep Movie

38. Spirited Away

39. Swallows and Amazons

40. The BFG

41. The Gruffalo

Bring the movie to life by...setting off on a nature hunt around your garden. What kinds of critters can your little ones find and draw as they go?

42. The Princess Bride

43. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

44. Babe: The Gallant Pig

45. The Lorax

46. Secret Life of Pets

47. Kubo and the Two Strings

48. Coraline

49. Nanny McPhee

50. The Adventures of TinTin

The judging panel for the final list was led by Into Film’s education and programming teams, who specialise in curating film content and developing teaching resources for schools. All of the films below have been found to help a child’s intellectual, emotional and educational development. For example, ‘Matilda’ instils a love of reading and curiosity, as well as the confidence to stand up for yourself, while ‘Beauty And The Beast’ promotes the idea that ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’.

Alongside the list of 50 ‘Must See Movies Before you Grow Up’ Into Film has developed a series of curriculum based educational resources to be used in primary schools, linked to five over-arching themes - ‘Thrills & Chills’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Heroes & Villains’, ‘Kids Rule!’ and ‘Classics’. Each of the 50 films sit within a theme, enabling the ideas and issues in the film to be fully explored and encouraging discussion around complex topics such as diversity, bullying, adjusting to change, tackling moral complexities, bereavement, friendship, embracing being different, growing up and facing adversity.