Today, around the world, bloggers are coming together to write about a single topic: Human Rights. An online event sponsored by Bloggers Unite, this effort is intended to “shine a light” on a single topic with different – lets face it millions of – perspectives from all over the globe.
When my daughter finally ends up in therapy, my mom assures me it will be because I talked her to death. I am a communications major and I love to talk. And one of the best parts of parenting is having the opportunity to have great discussions with my daughter – we talk about everything – and one subject that comes up a lot in our household is human rights.
It takes many forms and contexts, but the essential underlying theme is that all people deserve to be free – to be able to speak freely, pursue religion as they see fit and have their basic needs met – food, water, safety. Many of our discussions have happened while watching movies. As avid Netflix members, we have family movie night on Friday and Saturday nights.
Family Movie Night: Dinner and Debate
Gramma comes over, we make a good “picnic” dinner and settle in for a family film. We usually allocate about three hours because I am notorious for hitting the pause button to stop and explain what is happening, why it happens and get Katie’s perspective on what she’s seeing. This process tends to drive my mom a bit crazy, but the overall result is I have a child who understands things on a very “connected” level. And I see her bring this wisdom to the events that happening in her eight-year-old world.
So, I sat down with her last night and talked about some of the best movies we have watched and asked her which ones made lasting impressions. There have been so many, but we decided to choose our top five. We hope you watch them with your kids – and I encourage you to look at the reviews on Common Sense Media to make sure they are a fit with your values and to make you aware of what subjects may come up. Four of the links provided for each movie will take you there.
Our Top Five “Discussion” Films (in no particular order)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Surprise! Aside from this being one of my all time favorites, it turns out there’s a rather interesting back story with the Nazi’s pursuing the Ark. We stopped during the movie to talk about Nazi Germany, the war and who owns national treasures. We also ended up discussing the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban as an example of how some people don’t respect the values of others.
Based in fact, this story is about an African American swimmer, Jim Ellis, who deals with discrimination in different ways. The story is inspirational if not aggravating at times as it shows how race was perceived in the 1970s. We ended up having a great discussion about how man (humans) can be so cruel to one another and that we all have a responsibility to stand up when we see something bad happening. I think Katie got the concept of just because everyone does it and condones it, does not make it right.
This one is great for girls (boys too) as it shows the contrast between cultures and the struggles many kids have when their parents believe in one thing and the kids they live with every day believe in something else. For us, this lead to an interesting talk about doing what you believe is right despite what your parents’ tell you to do. Is it okay to lie? What if it is for the right reasons? I believe teaching Katie to be a critical thinker is essential to helping her fight for what she believes in, including the rights of others. This movie gave us a chance to talk about values, principles, behavior and having the guts to stand by her convictions.
Based on a true story, this looks at homelessness, parenting and the struggle one can have when things aren’t going well. It also demonstrates human kindness, perseverance and the power of the parent/child relationship. We talked a lot about compassion when we watched this movie. We see the homeless is our own town and some of them have children in tow. Like most kids, Katie is compelled to help. So I have given her a way to take action. I help her give her old toys and clothes to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center and we donate regularly to the Second Harvest Food Bank. She understands we are lucky to have what we have and she feels good about sharing what we have.
Another movie based on reality, this is a great movie about the strength of a small girl, her parents and how her strength helped change our culture. We ended up Googling the woman, Ruby Bridges, after the movie desperate to learn more about what she had become after living through such an incredible childhood. Ruby is one of the first children to attend a white school in Louisiana at the request of the NAACP. The movie is awesome as it tells the story in a way that older children will understand. Katie and I talked about racism, courage, fear, anger and honor as we watched her story play out. This is a great movie to watch with the whole family.
Do you have movies you would add to this list? I would love to hear about it. We are always looking for new movies to watch and discuss. Please add a comment and let me know!
PS: not every family movie night is mommy propaganda time – we also watch the fun ones like Ratatouille, Enchanted and Jurassic Park!
4 thoughts on “Bloggers Unite for Human Rights: Five Family Films that will Foster Discussion”
Thanks Dave. Sometimes I feel so unable to do anything very useful, but then I realize I can totally educate my kid and do a little of the “think globally, act locally” thang.
An interesting post. You’ve shown us how even entertainment can be used to explore human rights issues.>< HREF="http://heartofdiamonds.blogspot.com" REL="nofollow">Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds><>
Thank you for the recommendation – it’s been on my Netflix queue forever but I was thinking it was so depressing that I wasn’t sure if I should book it. Now I will move it up the queue! She handled the Holocaust Museum (in DC) pretty well so she might be ready. We will check it out (along with Jurassic Park 2 & 3)!
I think it is wonderful that you discuss these topics with your daughter through a medium that I’m sure she enjoys. Doing it that way is a much better way to get through to kids than forcing the issues down their throats, as many teachers seem to do. >>I’m slightly ashamed to say that I haven’t seen any of these movies… Although I do love Jurassic Park 🙂>>I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but the movies I’ve seen with messages are probably a bit too grown up for her… The Pianist with Adrien Brody comes to mind. It is an amazing movie, and Brody is a great actor, but it is a very mature movie… disturbing, even. >>From IMDB: A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw.
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