3 Kid-Friendly Movies Featuring Heroic Women
There are so many movies with strong, heroic characters for kids to look up to – that is, if they’re boys.
For a long time, women were generally depicted as victims that needed to be rescued, or witches that cast evil spells, or as prizes to be won by the real heroes – who were always men.
As more women begin to take leading roles in films, it helps to show kids (girls and boys alike) that the women are just as heroic as men.
Here’s a list of films with strong female leading roles, which can inspire young women, and show young men that they are not the only heroic ones.
1998, Rated G
Mulan is a Disney film, based on an old Chinese folktale, about a young woman who dresses like a man so she can take her elderly father’s place in war.
At first, she doesn’t fit in with the army of men, but with a little work, she’s able to fight alongside them, and even gain their respect. Eventually, she’s allowed to go into battle with the big boys, where she saves the General’s life. However, when the army discovers that she’s a woman in disguise, Mulan is expelled.
As she leaves, Mulan sees the enemy heading for the capital. Alone, she rides after them and saves the emperor from being captured. The emperor offers her a seat next to him as his advisor, but Mulan rejects his offer, choosing family over glory.
Mulan is the story of a heroic woman – who kicks some serious butt! She works hard to become a fighter, and becomes even stronger than the men. It’s action-packed, but with a G-rating it’s totally safe for kids of all ages.
2006, Rated PG
Akeelah and the Bee is the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a smart young girl in a low-income area of South Los Angeles.
Despite her poor upbringing, Akeelah has one super strength – spelling. So, her teachers convince her to put her talents to the test at the school’s spelling bee.
Her determination and smarts get her through the first few rounds, but as the competition gets tougher, she is brought into a world of rich kids with private tutors and coaches.
Akeelah finds a local coach, Dr. Joshua Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), who teaches her about spelling, the origins of words, and a little about life. With his help, and the help of neighbors and the entire community, Akeelah is able to make it to the national championship... and win the grand prize!
Akeelah and the Bee is a story about overcoming obstacles, and proving yourself to the world. Akeelah studies hard to compete with more fortunate children, and despite the difficult circumstances she faces, she is able to prove her worth.
1962, Not Rated
(Note: this film has some very intense scenes, and alludes to some dark images, which can be for a more mature audience)
The Miracle Worker (Directed by Arthur Penn) is a black and white movie based on the true story of Helen Keller.
Born with a serious fever that leaves her deaf, blind, and mute, Helen Keller isn’t able to communicate as a child – nor does she learn the basic skills to take care of herself. Instead, her family has had to do everything for her.
Desperate for help, Helen’s family hires Anne Sullivan, (Anne Bancroft) to teach her how to communicate. Anne attempts to speak with Helen by spelling words out in Helen’s palm. She separates Helen from her parents, and teaches her basics skills: how to brush her own teeth, eat her own food, and more.
But, when Helen is brought back to her parents, she quickly reverts back to her old routines, and makes her parents do everything for her again. Anne continues to try to teach Helen how to be independent – and to communicate. After a long struggle, Anne is finally able to teach her the word “water” – the breakthrough that leads to more words, and more learning.
The Miracle Worker is a film that all kids should watch. Young girls and boys of all ages will look up to both the leading female characters. The real Helen Keller was an extraordinary woman that eventually went on to be an author, and paved the way for women’s rights – and for those with disabilities. But, she was only able to do this with the help of her amazing teacher.
It’s so important for young girls to have women like these in leading roles, because when girls see heroic women in films, they also see their own heroic side. And that means, she won’t settle for being a victim, villain, or a prize.
What are some of your favorite films with a strong female lead?
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