Cartoons and animated movies are like a portal to a fantastic imaginary world. Even from a learning perspective, it’s easier to make children learn from these visual mediums. The best animated movies for kids are not only exciting to watch, but they also teach a lot of new concepts and ideas to your little ones.
Animated movies are accessible from a variety of sources these days. Traditionally people would either go to the theaters or buy DVDs of the movies they wanted to watch. Today, plenty of good animated movies are broadcasted on cable and satellite TV networks as well. Even the top streaming websites, such as Netflix and Disney, have plenty of content that you can choose from.
We have listed some spectacular animated movies for your little one to enjoy in this post.
25 Best Kids Animated Movies To Watch
Here is our list of some top kids animated movies. We hope you enjoy them
1. Best Romantic Film: Beauty And The Beast
Disney’s animated film Beauty and the Beast has been at the top of the best film lists since its release in 1991. People regard it as the best of the Disney Renaissance, and we agree completely agree with it.
In the movie, Bella, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself to the captor, unaware that he is an enchanted prince. The bravery and independence of Bella redefined the meaning of a Disney princess. She continues to be an inspiration and an icon of empowerment for most girls.
The movie is enchanting, just how a romantic animated film must be. It was the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Animated Film and five other categories. It went on to win the Best Song and Best Original Score award, testifying the musical genius of the soundtrack.
2. Best Emotional Film: Toy Story 1, 2, 3
Yes, we have combined all three installments, because we just couldn’t choose one. “Toy Story” was the first CGI animation movie for kids, which launched Pixar Studios, and paved the path for future CGI movies. “Toy Story 2” proved itself equally good, if not better than the original. Even “Toy Story 3”, an honest and moving reflection on the bittersweet experience of growing up, was an excellent wrap-up. The bit of darkness and some deep soul searching makes it even more appealing than its predecessors. But we even have the news that the fourth installment is on the way.
The “Toy Story” trilogy earned the nomination for 10 Academy Awards and even went home with four Golden Globe Awards. It also got the Oscar for the Best Animated Feature. Besides, it was also nominated for the Best Picture, making it the third animated film to be recognized in the category.
3. Best Academy Award Winning Film: The Lion King
Ask any boy of the 90s, his favorite animated movie, “The Lion King” would be the answer. “The Lion King” was the first Disney animated film to be made from an original story and not a fairy tale. Being the 18th highest grossing film of all time, ““The Lion King” won over both masses and critics alike. It even bagged two Academy Awards, one for the Best Original Score and another for Best Song. And how can we forget the tear-jerking scene of Mufasa’s death.
“The Lion King” is a story about a young lion cub that loses his father and the kingdom to his wicked uncle, only to win everything back with his strength and determination. It can get a bit heavy for younger kids, but the vivid animation and the powerful emotional punch is worth experiencing. Even Simba’s self-acceptance is emotionally stirring and uplifting. Do you remember the grand opening scene, where the beasts of Savannah gather to pay their tributes to the new lion prince, Simba?
4. Best Love Story: Up
“Up” is a joyous affirmation of life. It tells one of the most touching love stories of all time in just five minutes. “Up” touched the heart of kids with a tableau that took them through Carl and Ellie’s life, right from the first meeting to Ellie’s death. Despite having an emotional beginning, Carl, and Russell, the two unlikely protagonists of the film, give us a healing and humorous adventure. And even the bond between Carl and Russell deserves a worthy mention.
“Up” also went on to become the second animated film to have been nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Picture. It may have lost in this category, but went on to win Oscars for two of the five nominations and Two Golden Globe Awards as well. Here’s a review video that will help you select the right movie to watch with your kids.
5. Best Heartwarming Film: Finding Nemo
Even after more than a decade of its release, “Finding Nemo” still holds a special place in the heart of kids. In fact, this oh-so-touching film has already established itself as a timeless classic. And its lasting appeal is surprising, considering that “Finding Nemo” is the 23rd highest grossing film of the time. “Finding Nemo” also earned the Best Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Globe Award for the Best Motion Picture.
“Finding Nemo” was heartwarming, funny and intelligent. Children are given a glimpse of underwater Dreamlands, where sharks are friendly and turtles frolic. Marlin, Nemo’s dad, played by Albert Brooks, is frightened to death when Nemo spreads his small fin a bit too far and is captured by the sea diver and sent to the aquarium. Your kids will root for Nemo as he goes on the daring mission to find his spawn and you will love the portrayal of the single-father Marlin, who goes to the end of the ocean to find his son. This review video will help you understand whether this is the right film for your child.
6. Best Comedy Film: Shrek
You have no idea how much this seditious fairy tale changed the landscape of animated kids movies. It set the trend an animated film script with pop culture references and a few adult oriented jokes. Since then, almost every CGI film has followed the trend.
In this fun-filled film, not any prince charming, but an ogre and his sidekick who save the princess. It even sends the message that beauty is just skin-deep. “Shrek” won the first Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature. “Shrek” and its three sequels is also the highest grossing film of all time. Check out this review of the film to know more about it.
7. Best Fairy Tale: Sleeping Beauty
Inspired by the timeless tale by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, “Sleeping Beauty” did not do well at the box office. But when we watch the movie today, we realize how brilliantly it was made.
After being disregarded by the royal family, a malevolent fairy places a curse on the princess, which only a prince can break, but with the help of three good fairies and some benevolent magic.
8. Best Musical Soundtrack: The Little Mermaid
How can any child not sing along when “Part of Your World” is being played? While most of the Disney films have featured some soulful music, “The Little Mermaid” brought Broadway into the animated movies. It was honored by the Golden Globes and Academy awards for the best song and original score.
The movie even revived the Disney Animation Studios, leading to a series of successful and beloved animated movies. Princess Ariel herself was a revolution, being the first princess to be characterized as rebellious and spunky.
9. Best Foreign Film: Spirited Away
“Spirited Away” is a brilliant film from Miyazaki, or a yummy visual feast you can say. It is one of the most beautiful and comprehensive animated movies in existence. The movie is about a ten-year-old girl, Chihiro, who navigates a spirit world set in a Japanese bathhouse after witnessing her parents transform into pigs.
“Spirited Away” is scary, beautiful, and grotesque and gets more ambiguous and fanciful as the plot progresses. It encourages children to embrace the wonders and weirdness of life.
10.Best Entertaining Film: Ratatouille
A tale about a rat with culinary dreams and a refined palate, “Ratatouille” celebrates the critics, and in a very refined way. Remy, a food-obsessed rat, played by Patton Oswalt, ends up assisting Linguini, a likable, but a newbie chef in a high-class restaurant. A part of the movie’s charm lies in the relationship between Linguini and Remy and how it develops. Even Anton Ego, a feared, and arrogant food critic is a memorable character.
This thoroughly entertaining and astonishing movie gives out the message that nothing is unachievable. If they truly believe in themselves, then no force in the world can stop them from achieving it.
11. Chicken Run
“Chicken Run” is Aardman Animation’s first full-length effort in the animation film. It’s about a group of hens who take the help of a cocky rooster to escape their farm after learning that they are destined to be pies.
The fun-filled movie is quite well rounded, with classic physical comedy and thrilling action. Oh, and how can we forget the British charm?
12. The Lego Movie
Accept it; you were raising your eyebrows at the announcement of this movie. Some even thought that the filmmakers are spoiling the reputation of the most loved kids’ toy. But the filmmakers proved us wrong and how!
Emmett, an ordinary construction guy, is chosen as the ‘special one’ to fight against ‘Lord Business’. This action-comedy and somewhat silly film clicked with not just kids, but also adults. The film aptly captures the childish sense of play, that very few animated films had done, besides “Toy Story”. It also has a satire and a stream of gags as well. But the best of all is the world of brick and its people.
With less dialogue than most of the Pixar movies, “Wall-E” remains one of the outright satirical and formally austere movies. Taking cue the destruction of the planet because of the environmental concerns, Wall-E gives us a view of the earth in 2805 that is completely devoid of humans. (Though it betrays its promise towards the end of the film when we see a space station filled with humans) The only animate objects are the old robot Wall-E, who recycles the trash on Trash Plant and later makes it the epic pyramids of detritus. Later, it falls in love with a robot from the earth.
The movie comes wrapped with a messaged for kids. It gives us a vision of what the planet could become if we don’t take care of it. It is also a kind of silent movie as the most of the script relies on messages, cues, and of course, gags.
Brave isn’t just the first Pixar’s fairy tale based movie, but is the first movie of the studio to feature a female protagonist. The movie is inspired by Brenda Chapman, the director’s relationship with her daughter.
The movie is about Merida, the fiercely independent daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. She is a brave and gusty archer who does not think twice before voicing her opinion. But when she refuses to get married and change her mother to bear, her actions bring chaos to the kingdom. She has to undo the curse before it’s too late. Most children, especially girls would relate to Merida’s conflict with her traditional mommy, and the eventual acceptance of differences on both their parts. The film won the Oscar award and Golden Globe Awards for the Best Animated Feature Film.
“Wreck-It-Ralph” is a favorite with gamers of all ages. The story is about the Ralph, a villain and his adventure in the vintage arcade as he aspires to be a hero. In his quest, Ralph travels through the various games, both old and new.
“Wreck-It-Ralph” has everything that you would expect from a good animated movie — a witty script, amazing screenplay, empathetic and compassionate characters and of course, the emotional payoff.
16. Winnie The Pooh
Kids of today’s generation have been missing on some of the most vital parts of childhood, all because of the technological advancements. But “Winnie the Pooh’ released in 2011, evokes the simpler times with its wit and charm. The movie pays homage to one of the best-loved kid’s characters of all time, Winnie the Pooh and to the beauty of friendship.
The movie is as gentle as the original Disney cartoon. It even encourages the pleasure of reading to children, with the characters interacting with the texts on the page. The movie is aimed at younger still, but even adults, who grew up watching Pooh movies were not disappointed by it.
17. The Iron Giant
“The Iron Giant,” a retro movie by Warner Brothers, has a heart of “E.T.” and sensibility of a sci-fi film. Set during the Cold War, the story is about a lonely boy who discovers a giant robot and fights to protect it from being thrashed by the military while teaching it how to live peacefully on earth.
The movie has a smart humor and balanced world view. It even offers some of the most stunning moments, without sacrificing the old-fashioned charm. Even the family portrayed here is thoroughly modern with blended families and both single parents. The “The Iron Giant” did not get any award, but it won a slew of science fiction awards, including several Annie Awards, Hugo Awards, and the Nebula Award, which are no less than accomplishments in animation.
“My Neighbor Totoro” is produced by Hayao Miyazaki, fondly dubbed as the Walt Disney of Japan. It follows the story of two siblings who move into an old house just to be closer to their hospital-ridden mom. But the creatures that fill the surrounding woods and even the house just melt the heart. Do not be surprised if your kid starts wishing for a Totoro, which is basically a cross between a rotund rabbit and a Russian nesting doll.
The story of “My Neighbor Totoro” goes deep into the Japanese culture and tradition and even the writer’s own past — a childhood filled with mysterious tales and love of all things that grow. Yes, there is also a certain darkness in the film — loneliness and the frustration and the fear of losing a parent. But the delightful pleasure of life-like midnight dances, raindrops on the umbrella, and dust mites drifting in the sun outdo it.
19. The Incredibles
Arguably, Brad Bird’s best film is an amalgamation of family melodrama and comic book mythology. It’s not just one of the best-animated films, but also the best superhero movie of all time. You can say it is a complete film, full of thrilling action and relatable characters.
The film is about a family of undercover superheroes who live a quiet, suburban life. But trouble begins when they are forced into action to save the world.
“How To Train A Dragon” is a rumbustious, action-packed animated movie that your kid is sure to like. It has excellent wit, one-liners and charm that will bowl the kids over. The movie is a thrilling adventure about a young Viking and his dragon pal Toothless. Hiccup was raised in the nation of dragon slayers. And just like other Vikings, even Hiccup wanted to be a brave dragon slayer. But the trouble with him is that he is geeky. But as they say, the brain is always mightier than brawns, he gradually learns the ways of the dragon. The climaxes of the film, especially the aerial battle sequence, are spectacular. And Toothless is the cutest dragon you can ever see on screen.
The painting visuals and the 3-D enabled flying sequence are stunning in this movie. The movie gives out the message of forgiveness and sacrifice and teaches them that violence is not the answer to all the problems in life.
21. Monsters Inc.
“Monsters Inc.” is an utterly satisfying animated film from Pixar. Just like “Toy Story” even “Monster Inc. takes up a conceit. It is the story about the monsters in every child’s closet and bed. The movie revolves around Sully, a fuzzy blue monster that accidentally lets Boo, a supposedly deadly child into their monster’s paradise.
22. The Jungle Book
Presently, “Frozen” may have the crown of the best soundtrack of a Disney movie, but decades back, “The Jungle Book” reigned supreme. Even the movie has a distinct 60s flavor, right from the tripped-out eyes of a snake to the vultures with a mop top. And the characters of the film remain some of the most beloved in Disney, especially Baloo and Bagheera.
For most of the mommies, Bambi is a movie of plenty of first, the first time we realized bad things happen to good people, a cute, little deer, in this case, the first movie we watched, and the first time we cried while watching a film.
Even after 70 years of its release, “Bambi” has not lost its appeal. It still contains some of the most charming animation of Disney and some of the best supporting characters of all time, special mention to Thumper, the rabbit. We highly recommend you to watch it.
“Cinderella” was a make or break film for Walt Disney production. If the movie had failed, it would have meant the end of Disney and the company. But the runaway success of the film allowed Walt to build theme parks and etch his name forever. Yes, the movie had all the elements that you would expect from the Disney animated film, a charming lead, some helpful, supportive animals and a total transformation. But there was innovation here too.
In “Frozen” also, Disney takes a modern approach to an old fairy tale, which we didn’t quite expect to be a success. Even the parents didn’t imagine that the songs and dresses of the film would dominate their lives for so long. But Disney has a custom of proving people wrong. The movie is witty, sweet and empowering with a belting soundtrack.
In the movie, Anna, a brave princess sets off on a journey with Kristoff and Sven to bring her sister. The troubled relationship between Elsa and Anne is a part of the emotional pull of the film, so is the glamorous dresses and the intoxicating power of Elsa. We loved Olaf, the well-imagined comic relief the most in the movie. How can we forget his one-liner “Some people are worth melting for”?
How To Choose The Right Animated Movies For Kids?
Here are a few points to consider for choosing an animated movie for your child.
- Age: While most animated movies are suitable for children, consider the age recommendations and ratings provided for the film. You may also go through the reviews to ensure the content is child-appropriate. Some movies may have slightly complex storylines that your child may not understand properly.
- Story and content: Although you could choose an animated movie based on your little one’s favorite character, animal, or story, you should also choose it based on the content it covers. Several animated movies teach valuable lessons about kindness, overcoming obstacles, and more, and are visually stimulating with great soundtracks and entertainment value.
- Animation: Some old classics such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Sleeping Beauty have simple animation, while the new animated movies such as Ice Age, Ratatouille, and Kung Fu Panda have advanced graphics and spectacular life-like animation with humor. So, choose a movie based on your child’s interests to keep them engaged.
Why Trust MomJunction?
Wedetso Chirhah specializes in writing about kids’ products, books, automobiles, electronics, and other home improvement appliances backed by thorough research. He understands that choosing the right movies for children is important as these help with their development. In this post on the best animated movies for kids, Wedetso compiled a list of the best-reviewed movies available after looking through several user reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What was the first animated kid’s movie?
Fantasmagorie, the first animated kid’s movie, was made in 1908 by the French cartoonist, Émile Cohl.
2. Do animated movies hold children’s interest?
Yes, the animation, fascinating characters, captivating dialogues, and exciting storylines of animated movies spark children’s interest, imagination, and hold their attention.
3. What sort of animated movies can help a child’s brain development?
Animated movies with an adventurous storyline or some informative content might help a child’s brain development.
4. What can children learn from animated movies?
Children can learn empathy, the concept of teamwork, honesty, hard work, self-love, diversity, and more from animated movies.
Animated movies are not just fun and entertaining to watch, but they also offer a learning perspective. Be it Elsa, Simba, Bella, or Nemo, animated characters fascinate children of all ages. Isn’t it? These movies teach life lessons in ways that children easily comprehend. Our top picks include Shrek, which talks about the significance of inner beauty, the magical Spirited Away, and the Disney blockbuster Beauty And The Beast. Whether it is a fairytale, science fiction, or an inspiring story of a brave child, animated movies have something for everyone. So, grab a bucket full of popcorn and play these best animated movies for a family night.
Does your kid like watching animated movies? What is your favorite among our list of kids animated movies? Or do you wish to add your own titles on animated movies for kids? Tell us by commenting below.
Infographic: Factors To Consider When Choosing Animated Movies For Children
Animated films are entertaining and educational, capturing children’s attention and teaching them essential life lessons. Children love these movies’ exciting visuals, easy plots, and catchy music. Check out the infographics below to learn more about the features to look for in an animated film to ensure your children will like it.