7 Movies that Help Kids Learn about Respect and Inclusion
You may have experienced that at times, knowingly or unknowingly, our kids exclude certain other children based on their different looks, different speech, nationalities or a disability. For parents, it may get embarrassing, but we need to use such opportunities to teach our kids not to fear differences, but rather embrace others with empathy and humility. If we are able to inculcate respect and sense of inclusion in our kids from the beginning, they won’t face racism, hatred, bigotry in this world any more.
How about teaching the kids about respect and inclusion through a medium of entertainment that is universally liked by all- Movies!
We have jotted down a couple of movies that you can watch together and help kids imbibe acceptance, self-respect, and inclusion in their growing years. Here’s how you can make this exercise a fun experience for them.
• Select one of the movies below to watch together say every once every fortnight.
• Task the young ones to arrange for drink and popcorns.
• If you want to go the extra mile, you can have the kids draw or print tickets and make personalised holders for drinks and popcorns.
• Think ahead about a fun activity at interval time.
So, let’s take a look at some of the movies, shall we?
1. Finding Nemo - An all time favourite of kids of all ages. Like many, perhaps you may have overlooked too that Nemo has a physical disability - one of his fin is undersized and that always challenges his physical movement. Despite the challenged ability, Nemo comes across as a character loved and admired by all for his cheerful disposition, tenacity and perseverance. The main theme that parents and caregivers can reinforce is that being different in this world is rather quite normal. Physical disability does not have to be an impediment in achieving your dreams.
2. Finding Dory - Again, on the footsteps of Finding Nemo is Finding Dory which can help raise our youngsters’ emotional quotients. Dory suffers from memory loss, but is still able to navigate the world by relying on her gut. The movie reiterates the message that we all need to believe in ourselves, no matter what. Also, a disability can seem like a limitation at first, but it can just be the thing you need to find your purpose in life. Dory creates a beautiful life despite what she thought was a hindrance at first but later proves to be her asset. A fun and positive film that stands out for its message about inclusivity.
3. Wonder - Wonder is a relatively recent movie that can help nurture young minds with concepts such as empathy, compassion and respect for others. This movie is an adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s award-winning novel “Wonder,” It is about a fifth-grader who has a genetic facial difference, a child who wants to feel accepted for who he is from the inside. A feel good movie that shows how the protagonist lovingly and bravely accepts who he is and doesn’t let things that he can’t change about himself, alter his joy.Suitable for middle schoolers.
4. Right Footed - Right Footed is an inspirational movie that talks about the life of Jessica Cox, a girl who was born without arms as a result of birth defect. The movie shows how she overcame the so called limitations of leading a life without arms and went on to become a pilot. She is now a motivational speaker and an advocate for people who are differently abled. This movie will help show our youngsters how differently abled people are just people who are trying to find their joy and happiness in this world, much like the rest of us.
5. Beauty and the Beast - Beauty and Beast is yet another classic tale you can watch with the young viewers to impart the lesson that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Despite the beast’s physical appearance, Belle had an innate kindness and compassion to draw out and see the goodness in Beast’s heart. Also, Belle is often criticised by her town for always having her nose stuck in books. But the movie rewards this “different” quality of hers by showing how her intelligence pays off. She is shown as somebody who is not afraid to stand alone and is not influenced by the opinions of others in her town. Something a lot of teenagers can benefit from as this is the age where peer pressure tends to weigh them down the most.
6. Akeelah and the Bee- Akeelah and the Bee powerfully conveys messages of age, race, privilege, and difference. The movie’s protagonist Akeelah is an African-American girl from Los Angeles . The movie shows how Akeelah struggles to fit into school and is drawn into the world of spelling competitions where she finds she is the odd one out. Her tenacity, perseverance and the support of her community ensures she rises to the top at the National Spelling Bee Competition.
7. Zootopia - Zootopia does a great job advocating for diversity and the inclusion of people from different walks of life. The movie is about a small-town rabbit Judy Hopps who dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer. Hopps trains very hard to achieve this goal and she is awarded her badge and enlisted in the police force. Unfortunately, Hopps’s small-minded boss undermines her by assigning her trivial and unimportant tasks. Judy’s situation depicts the how all marginalised communities or differently abled people in our world feel and how we knowingly or unknowingly don’t give them what they truly deserve.
If you haven’t had a chance to see these movies, try to find time in the ongoing summer holidays to catch-up on them with your kids. Practice using questions such as “what did you think of the victim in the movie”, “what alternate ending was possible?”, “why are you feeling happy or sad?”. Keep your questions open ended so that the child can process what he or she is feeling after watching the movie. Gently nudge them to a point where they can realise that being different is normal and that each and every person around them always deserves the same amount of respect and consideration, no matter their perceived limitations.
Do let us know if you have a favourite one that we have missed out.
Written by Mridu Bhutani