Movies have the power to transport us to another world, which makes them great tools for introducing children to other cultures. As Hollywood gets ready to roll out the red carpet for the Oscars, we thought it was the perfect time to talk about some of the best family movies for opening your children’s eyes to the world beyond their neighborhood. From animated adventures to heartwarming dramas, there’s something for everyone on our list. So, grab some popcorn, get cozy, and let’s explore the world through the magic of movies!
Here are six of our favorite movies for teaching your children about different cultures and ways of life around the globe:
1. Coco (2017)
This heartwarming movie is an excellent way to introduce your children to Mexican music, food, language, and Día de Muertos (the Day of the Dead) celebrations as they follow Miguel on his journey through the Land of the Dead. Coco also showcases the importance of family and tradition in Mexican culture.
2. Moana (2016)
Disney’s Moana is a wonderful film for sparking your children’s interest in Polynesian culture and offering a glimpse into the rich and diverse history of the region. Moana teaches children about the importance of community and respect for the environment while weaving in elements of Polynesian folklore and mythology.
3. Encanto (2021)
Fun fact: did you know that the orchid that Mirabel wears in her hair is Columbia’s national flower? Through Encanto’s captivating story, children are introduced to Colombian music, dance, and folklore. The movie also masterfully explores universal, relatable themes like family, friendship and acceptance.
4. Spirited Away (2001)
If you’re looking to teach your children more about Japanese culture, check out Spirited Away. From the legendary Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is heavily influenced by Japanese Shinto-Buddhist folklore. One example of this is the characters based on kami (important spirits in the Shinto religion) that visit the Japanese bath house.
5. Queen of Katwe (2016)
Now here’s an inspiring film for your children! Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi. Despite not attending school, Phiona learned chess at age 9 and went on to compete in major international tournaments.
6. Paddington (2014)
Paddington is packed with quintessentially British elements that can help your kids learn about the UK. From Paddington’s love of marmalade sandwiches to his adventures at London’s iconic landmarks, the movie is a delightful introduction to British customs and traditions. Paddington, a bear from Peru, also illustrates what it’s like to live far from home and experience another culture for the first time – an experience many au pairs can probably relate to!
Movies are a fantastic way to launch your children’s interest in other cultures…
… but they’re still largely fictionalized. If you’re looking for a meaningful cultural exchange experience for your family, hosting an au pair can be an excellent option. When you welcome an au pair into your home, your family gains more than quality child care assistance – your kids benefit from a role model and a deeper understanding of another country’s language and traditions.