Documentaries are extremely popular right now. Everything from fast food flicks to presidential life stories play on television screens and in movie theaters. Unfortunately, many of them are not appropriate for children. However, there are documentaries out there that will not only have you captivated, but will have your children glued to the screen too.
In the Shadow of the Moon
This flick from 2007 talks with all the surviving astronauts who voyaged to the moon on Apollo missions between 1968 and 1972, including Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. In addition to media footage from the missions, this award-winning documentary also includes NASA films, not previously released. In the Shadow of the Moon will fascinate your children with amazing images, just as the astronauts of the Apollo missions did when they first stepped foot on the moon. It is rated PG for some language, violence, and smoking.
March of the Penguins
This popular documentary won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It follows the year-long journey of Emperor penguins across Antarctica as they leave the ocean to walk inland to their ancestral breeding grounds. Multiple journeys between these breeding grounds and the ocean are essential to the survival of the chicks. The parent penguins fight hunger, extreme cold approaching -80 degrees Fahrenheit, and predators in order to care for their chicks. The film is rated G, however, some chicks and parents do perish so sensitive children may not want to watch.
If you have a daughter, she'll probably love this documentary, which follows girls age 8 to 18 through a week at Rock 'n' Roll Camp. In that week, the girls select an instrument and a band, and write a song. At the end of the week, they perform a concert for over 700 people. The girls also receive lessons in self-defense and anger management while being encouraged to be themselves. The film is rated PG.
This movie documents the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., and features competitors including three children of immigrants and children from a variety of ethnic and economic backgrounds. About more than a spelling bee, the film highlights American and family diversity as well as the ambition and dedication of children who have a dream and a goal. The film is rated G, although one child uses a bad word and there are some intense scenes of children who are upset when they lose.
The California Institute of Technology is known for producing Nobel Prize winners, but their athletics department leaves a lot to be desired. In 2006, Caltech's basketball team was in the middle of a 21-year losing streak. This film follows the team during their last week of games in the 2006 season. You'll witness discipline as well as a group of people with incredible heart, as you and your children watch one of the most exciting seasons in the school's history as they attempt to win just one single game.
While these documentaries each offer different educational and entertainment experiences and are considered appropriate for children, parents should still screen or review movies before allowing a child to watch. Every child is different, and each parent has a different opinion on what movies his or her child is allowed to watch.