10 family movies that teach the value of tolerance

Why should we teach the value of tolerance to children? Tolerance is one of the greatest expressions of respect. Being tolerant means understanding, accepting and respecting the differences, ideas, beliefs and thoughts of others. In addition to instilling this value by your practice of it, it is a good idea to use playful resources such as movies, so here we have 10 family films that address the subject.

Movies that teach tolerance to children

They will help you teach your children in an attractive and fun way. Feel free to start the conversation after the movie, answer your kids’ questions, explain what tolerance means, and give them examples of how it could be applied correctly.

1. Wonder (Stephen Chbosky, 2017)

Review: Auggie Pullman is 10 years old and dreams of becoming an astronaut one day. He was born with a severe facial malformation and had to undergo ten years of operations and long recovery periods at home. Now Auggie must face another great challenge: attending class for the first time.

Teaching: This tape is ideal for reflecting on tolerance and the need to adapt. The story is very humane and inspiring. In an effort to protect him, his parents homeschool Auggie, but the time has come for him to go to school. It will not be easy, but the child will find great friends. Ask your children what they would do if they were the protagonist, or the classmates, or even the parents.

Wonder (Stephen Chbosky, 2017)
Photo: Lionsgate

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2. Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, 2000)

Review: The life of Billy, the son of a miner from the North of England, changes the day he discovers how fascinating ballet is and how gifted he is at excelling at it. He thus decides to change his boxing classes for dance lessons.  

Teaching: The story takes place in the middle of the miners’ strike carried out between 1984 and 1985 in Tony, Everington, a small town in England. Billy’s family is formed by his grandmother, his father and his brother, who believe that ballet is not “for men”. The film talks about tolerance and acceptance, but it also gives opportunities to talk about other topics such as friendship, prejudice, the importance of fighting for what you want, being yourself above all, even when there is an absent mom.

 Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, 2000)
Photo: BBC Films

3. I am Sam (Jessie Nelson, 2002)

Review: A mentally disabled father must fight to regain custody of his beloved daughter.

Teaching: Love, family, friendship, overcoming trouble, struggle, drive, and courage of a father to be close to his daughter is what this film presents. Sam Dawson must fight in court to be with his little girl. Due to his condition, he is discriminated, ridiculed, the people in suits believe that he is not qualified to take care of her.

At first Sam’s own lawyer shows rejection and disinterest, until she manages to see beyond his appearance and discovers the immense love he feels for the girl, as well as his determination to defend his rights.

I am Sam talks about tolerance and the importance of breaking down prejudices. But above all, he reminds us that with love, nothing else matters, everything will be fine.

I am Sam (Jessie Nelson, 2002)
Photo: NewLineCinema

4. Planet 51 (Jorge Blanco, 2009)

Review: Astronaut Charles ‘Chuck’ Baker arrives on a planet where the inhabitants are small green beings with pointy ears who live peacefully, and who are trapped in the fifties. Their only fear is being invaded by aliens. Captain Chuck, along with his companions will have to make a place for themselves among these beings, until they are part of the Space Museum of Alien Invaders.

Teaching: This is a Spanish digital animation film that puts a common situation in another context. What if humans were the strangers, the aliens who arrived on another planet and had to “earn a place”? It is obviously a great analogy to explain migration and tolerance to different cultures and ideas.

In addition to the value of tolerance, it also deals with the courage to face difficult challenges, empathy, putting oneself in the shoes of others to know their way of feeling and thinking, the critical attitude towards prejudice and the rejection of those who are different, the warning attitude in situations that represent fear, as well as the use of creativity to find solutions.

Planet 51 (Jorge Blanco, 2009)
Photo: HandMade Films

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5. Pocahontas (Eric Goldberg, Mike Gabriel, 1995)

Review: Pocahontas is the daughter of Powhatan, the chief of a North American tribe. She one day sees the arrival of a group of English settlers, led by the ambitious Governor Radcliff and the brave Captain John Smith. Accompanied by her animal pals, Pocahontas starts a friendship with Captain John Smith. However, the ambition of the newcomers causes tensions to arise between the two cultures.

Teaching: Pocahontas has a free and adventurous spirit, but as the daughter of the chief of her village, she has the responsibility to protect them. In her first encounters with John Smith we can see how she becomes defensive against his and the rest of the Englishmen colonizing racism, “Who are they to call us uncivilized, savage and ignorant?” she questions.

Despite the situation, she defends respect and tolerance, she tries to mediate between both cultures. She falls in love with the “enemy”, which means betrayal to her own people. However, until the last moment, she cries out to her own father for listening to others, in a gesture of humbleness and kindness.

Obviously there is a lot to cut through, the love between two people from different cultures, respect for nature, but it is also an excellent opportunity to explain the encounter of two worlds, the European colonizers who arrived in what is now known as America.

Pocahontas (Eric Goldberg, Mike Gabriel, 1995)
Photo: Disney

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6. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)

Review: Sitting on a bench in Savannah, Georgia, Forrest Gump waits for the bus. While it arrives, the young man tells his story to the people who are sitting down waiting with him. Although he suffers from a little mental retardation, this does not prevent him from doing wonderful things. Without fully understanding what is happening around him, Forrest takes sides in the most important events in the history of the United States.

Teaching: Due to his limitations, many people treat Forrest differently and look down on him. During his childhood he suffers from bullying and must flee from his bullies multiple times. However, his mother helps him so that he does not feel inferior at any time, she does not victimize him or minimize his chores, on the contrary, she encourages him at all times.

You can talk with your children about the importance of not discriminating against anyone for any reason.  

Forrest is also an example of self-improvement and perseverance. He teaches that there are no insurmountable obstacles. He is able to overcome any setback by being constant and making an effort. Another value that this film teaches is humbleness, the ability to accept achievements but see our own flaws and learn from them.

Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
Photo: Paramount Pictures

7. To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1963)

Review: The sons of a southern lawyer face racial prejudice when his father defends an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. Film based on the book of the same title by Harper Lee, it explores the racial conflicts in the American South during the time of segregation.

Teaching: This is a classic of cinematography that deals with the challenge of living in peace with people who are different. The film is based on Harper Lee’s 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Not only is it a good story that grips you from the start, it also makes you wonder, what would you do? Would you stand up for what is fair even if you had to face criticism and even hate?

There is a blunt sentence that lawyer Atticus Finch says to his children, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do”.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1963)
Photo: Universal Pictures

8. My Name is Khan (Karan Johar, 2010)

Review: Rizwan Khan is a Muslim boy who suffers from Asperger syndrome. As an adult, Rizwan falls in love with Mandira, a Hindu single mother who lives in San Francisco. But after the 9/11 attacks, Rizwan is arrested as a suspected terrorist.

Teaching: Difficult, but true. The September 11 attacks in New York triggered a xenophobic wave in the United States. First neighbors, then customers, then friends turned their backs on many people of Muslim descent. Khan travels across the country to convey to President Obama his message: “My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”.

Through this film, we can talk to our children about the need to see beyond mere appearance and not judge, it also shows the influence of the context and the need for social inclusion.

My name is Khan (Karan Johar, 2010)
Photo: Red Chillies Entertainment

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9. The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009)

Review: Michael Oher, a young black homeless man, is taken in by a white family, willing to give him all of their support so that he can succeed both as a football player and in his private life. For his part, Oher will also influence the life of the Touhy family with his presence.

Teaching: This film is based on real events included in the book “The Blind Side”, by Michael Lewis. The film presents us the confusion of a young man who does not have a family, he is very confused, and denies everything. But in the midst of adversity, he finds Tuohy, a kind woman who decides to take care and love him.

The film is not a fairy tale, it shows how difficult it is to welcome a person into a family. All customs and habits change, the challenge is that with love, tolerance and acceptance, everyone adapts and integrates the new member of the family.  

Another lesson that he leaves us is that we must help children to know what their qualities are and invite them to develop them.

 The blind side (John Lee Hancock, 2009)
Photo: Alcon Entertainment

10. The African Doctor (Julien Rambaldi, 2016)

Review: A doctor and his family seek to flee from the dictatorship in Congo; the mayor of a small French town offers them a new life, but in a completely different culture.

Teaching: The film “The African Doctor” is based on Dr. Seloyo Zantoko’s real life events, an orphan doctor who comes from Kinshasa, the capital of the former Republic of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In this feature film you can appreciate the racism that existed in the decade of the seventies in rural Europe. However, it is very clear that the origin of discrimination is the fear of the unknown and the belief in the “dominance” of the white race.

Yes, it is important that our children know how the world used to be and how unfortunately it continues to be in many places. In the midst of mistrust and fear, the doctor overcomes economic difficulties and even shame about his own origin, “An African doctor is a disgrace to French medicine”, they tell him.

A theater play presented by the children of the town (the segregating chi) represents the rejection suffered by the African family and becomes the way for adults to become aware of the situation.

The African Doctor (Julien Rambaldi, 2016)
Photo: Groupe TF1

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version

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