Last Updated on March 9, 2021.
Are you looking to make movie night educational? There are plenty of movies that feature important life lessons. My favorite movies are ones that feature themes of respect and inclusion because they support our positive parenting approach.
But before we get to the list, the important part of watching movies with an underlying theme is actually discussing the theme. Don’t just watch the movie and let your kids get lost in the surface level storyline. Point out pivotal moments. Discuss what worked for the characters, and what they could have done differently. Identify traits that we want to grow within ourselves. Let’s use these cinematic masterpieces to encourage our kids to value these human qualities of respect and inclusion!
So, now, here are my favorite 12 movies to show my kids when I want to discuss inclusion and respect for the people around us. Note that these are in no particular order!
Beauty and the Beast
In the story of Belle (the Beauty), she sacrifices herself to save the life of her father by agreeing to stay at the castle with the beast forever. It’s an enormous show of bravery and respect for her father. What she doesn’t know is that there is more going on in the castle, and because she’s inherently kind and inclusive, she looks a little deeper. She gets to know the beast and inspires him to be the best version of himself.
Discussion Topics: How does the beast change throughout the movie? Why does Belle dislike Gaston?
Aside from being insanely funny, Zootopia is also progressive. We find the main character trying to break through stereotypes and prove herself capable of anything she sets her mind to. It includes themes of both inclusion and respect. In a society where all animals live together, it demonstrates that racial profiling is very bad for society and encourages us to look at the individuals rather than judging people based on their heritage.
Discussion Topics: What if Judy Hopps had listened to those that said she couldn’t be a police officer? How did the villain use the “predator” stereotype to achieve their goal?
This is a heartwarming tale of an overprotective father, Marlin, and a handicapped son, Nemo (with his little fin) reuniting after an epic adventure. The overarching theme is that Marlin must overcome his trust issues and respect both Nemo and Dory.
Discussion Topics: How has Marlin changed throughout the movie? What’s the significance of Marlin and Dory’s relationship?
Usually sequels aren’t my thing, but Finding Dory is such an amazing followup to Finding Nemo. It features a whole cast of characters with disabilities and examples of inclusion.
Discussion Topics: What does this adventure say about family and friendship? How do disabilities affect the characters?
This is a story of a young boy with facial differences, who attends school for the first time. You’ll feel good seeing the main character overcome challenges and inspire those around him.
Discussion Topics: How does being bullied affect Auggie? How does Auggie change the people he comes in contact with?
This is another amazing film about a girl who was born with no arms, and yet overcomes adversity. It’s a story of inclusion and perseverance.
Discussion Topic: How do you think being born with a disability affects people? Why do you think people who overcome significant disabilities make good role models?
Akeelah and the Bee
In this film a talented girl dreams of going to the national spelling bee, despite her mother’s objections. She pursues her dreams and makes friends along the way. It’s a great movie about respect, love and pursuing your dreams.
Discussion Topics: Why do you think Akeelah’s mother had strong feelings about the spelling bee? What impact does the community support have on Akeelah?
The Blind Side
The story of this impoverished, homeless teen who is taken in by a sympathetic family will pull at your heart strings. With the love and support of his adopted family he reaches his full potential as a football player. It’s a story of compassion and inclusion.
Discussion Topics: Why is this movie called the “Blind Side”? How do you think it feels to have someone believe in you more than you believe in yourself? What impact does that have on Michael?
The Little Mermaid
The story of a girl, Ariel, who defies her father and falls in love with his mortal enemy, humans. If you’ve watched any of the other Little Mermaid movies, you know that Ariel’s mother was killed by humans. Ariel goes behind her father’s back and joins the human world through nefarious means.
Discussion Topics: What would have happened if Ariel would have discussed her desire to trade her fin for legs before going to Ursula? Why do you think Ariel keeps a secret cavern of human objects?
This is a true story about three brilliant women who worked for NASA in the 1960s, a time when inclusion based on race and gender were not a priority. It highlights why inclusion can benefit everyone.
Discussion Topics: What examples of inclusion did you see in the movie? What has changed in the last 50+ years in terms of inclusion regarding race and gender.
Pay it Forward
A teacher assigns his students a project: Find a way to change the world. One of the students decides he will use three acts of kindness to make a difference in the life of others, and then ask those three people to do the same for three additional people each. It’s a tale of respecting and participating in your community to make it a better place.
Discussion Questions: Are you surprised how the movie ends? How does it impact the idea of “Pay it forward”? How does the concept of “Pay It Forward” show respect and inclusion?
Remember the Titans
This is a true story of a divided community that is brought together by the triumph of the local football team. It has themes of courage and perseverance which highlightings the fact that we are better when we work together.
Discussion Topics: How can sports bring some people of different backgrounds and beliefs together, as illustrated in the movie? What are some examples of disrespect and lack of inclusion in the movie?
The story of a young man who suffers some unknown developmental delays experiences all that life has to offer, thanks to an encouraging and supportive mother. Forrest’s story is riddled with obstacles, all of which he overcomes.
Discussion Topics: Why do you think Forrest has such a diverse group of friends? How do Forrest’s disabilities impact his life?
Looking for more great movies for family movie night? Here are 50 great movie options from MaryPoppins.com
Are there other movies about respect and inclusion that you really like? Share them in the comments below!