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Top 20 Movies About Resilience for Children

Top 20 Movies About Resilience for Children

Children are often labeled “resilient” and strong. But what does this actually mean? We know that resilience, or the ability to bounce back, is key to a successful life. But rather than something children are born with, resilience is a skill that can be developed.

Every child is able to learn to face and overcome challenges and there are many ways to teach this crucial skill. Research shows stories and movies are a powerful teaching tool for resiliency — one that influences our thinking long after the credits roll.

If you’re wondering just which movies will help build grit and resilience in your child, look no further.

Here, we’ve rounded up a list of 20 movies about resilience to model these skills and show children of all ages how to persevere in even the toughest moments!

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our FREE When I Feel Worried Poster. Use this popular printable to make a plan with your child for when their worry shows up. Your child will have a list of their own coping strategies to calm their worry and anxiety.

*Disclaimer: Parents, caregivers, and teachers are advised to watch or read about the movies to make sure they are appropriate for their children.

Top 20 Movies About Resilience for Children
Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Resilience can’t exist without adversity, and 11-year-old Akeelah faces plenty. But the death of her father and her crime-ridden neighborhood doesn't stop her from dreaming big. When Akeelah chooses to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, she models how combining a goal with hard work can create magic.

Rating PG


Moana (2016)

A powerful tale about listening to the voice inside. Despite being drawn to the ocean, Moana is taught her place is safe in the village. True to herself, she undertakes a perilous voyage by sea to restore the heart of Te Fiti and save her people. But when she faces a major moment of self-doubt, the guiding spirit of Gramma Tala reminds her of who she is.

Rating PG


Trolls (2016)

Princess Poppy is the definition of optimism —  she faces every challenge with confidence in her abilities. Giant spiders, freezing cold weather, and lava pits are no match for her positive attitude. On a mission to rescue her friends from the miserable Bergens, Poppy reminds us to “get back up again” each time we fall.

Rating PG


Brave (2012)

Merida defies her family’s wishes, leading to a terrible curse on her mother. She must then rely on her courage (and archery skills) to set things right. As Merida and her mother grow closer, she learns how love helps us be brave.

Rating PG

Penguin Bloom

Penguin Bloom (2020)

Based on the best-selling book and true story, the Bloom family faces a tragic accident on vacation in Thailand. Older children will be swept up in the tale of how injured bird “Penguin” helps the Blooms accept, and even embrace, their changed lives.

Rating TV-14


Wonder (2017)

Auggie Pullman is a fifth grader with Treacher Collins syndrome, which causes him to look different from his classmates. He overcomes bullying, isolation and deep sadness with the support of his loving family, and an incredible sense of humor. Auggie’s story reveals how laughter, and having even one good friend, can do wonders.

Rating PG

Stick Man

Stick Man (2015)

Out for a quick jog near his family tree, Stick Man is taken by a dog and subsequently endures many misadventures. Used as a flagpole, a toy, and the arm of a snowman, Stick Man stays focused on his goal to return home in time for Christmas.

Not Rated


Piper (2016)

This beautiful short film introduces viewers to a frightened (and hungry) young sandpiper. When Piper’s mother doesn’t return to feed her, she must try several strategies to find her own dinner. Piper watches the creatures around her and learns to face the terrifying waves in a brilliant way.

Rating G

March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins (2005)

Set in the Antarctic, this documentary follows emperor penguins on a 70-mile journey to their breeding grounds. Not every penguin survives, and those who do must still endure the difficult task of transferring and incubating their eggs. The incredible effort of the emperor penguins pays off when precious new life hatches in the frozen tundra.

Rating G


Maiden (2018) 

In 1989, the first all-female crew competed in the arduous Whitbread Round the World yacht race. This documentary traces their challenges on land and at sea, including the difficult childhood of skipper Tracey Edwards. Unable to find sponsorship, Edwards purchases the second-hand yacht she renames Maiden — and with the help of her incredible crew, ultimately places second in the race.

Rating PG


Coco (2017)

Banned from playing guitar, his greatest passion, 12-year-old Miguel longs to connect to his musical ancestors. He inadvertently travels to the Land of the Dead, meeting an ally in the form of Hector. Together, Hector and Miguel heal a generations-long misunderstanding and reveal the power of staying true to your dreams.

Rating PG

Star Wars the Last Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VIII-The Last Jedi (2017)

This is a film about failing big, and the many ways we can respond to our mistakes. The point of life, Jedi Master Yoda explains to Luke, is to “pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

Rating PG-13

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Orphaned and living under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s, Harry Potter begins receiving mysterious letters. He soon learns of his magical abilities and the talented parents who died while protecting him. Harry faces adversity with keen intelligence and curiosity and develops friendships that connect him to his greatest strengths.

Rating PG

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges (1998)

In the 1960s, Ruby was chosen to be the first African-American student at her New Orleans elementary school. This film, nominated for an NAACP Image Award, portrays the angry mob young Ruby must face every day — and the refusal of staff to work with her. Teacher Barbara Henry arrives from Boston, championing her bright student and creating an environment of safety and hope.

Rating PG

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web (2006)

An idyllic farm in Maine is the backdrop for this classic tale. Determined to live through the spring, Wilbur befriends a brilliant barn spider named Charlotte and shares his goal. Brainstorming how best to save him, Charlotte hatches a perfect plan that makes Wilbur (and the entire farm) famous.

Rating G

My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Near Cape Town, South Africa, filmmaker Craig Foster documents his relationship with a curious and tough young octopus. Each day for a year, he free-dives into her underwater world, at one point witnessing a vicious shark attack that almost costs her her life. As she heals, Foster captures the incredible will to survive that unites all of us.

Rating G

The Pursuit of Happyness

Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Based on a true story, this film follows the struggles of single father Christopher Gardner. Financial crisis, homelessness and abandonment by his wife don’t stop Gardner from being a loving parent, or following his dream of being a successful stockbroker.

Rating PG-13

Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

A witch-in-training, Kiki delivers goods by broomstick — but not without difficulty. Her first delivery includes a lost package and a bird attack. When Kiki loses her ability to fly, she finds encouragement in the form of an artist friend. Inspired to find a new purpose, Kiki soon remembers how to fly.

Rating G


Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

In ancient Japan, Kubo faces mortal danger in the form of his grandfather and aunts. Kubo’s mother, a once-powerful witch, uses the last of her magic to accompany him on a quest for the three tools that will defeat their enemies. This film is a testament to love, which transcends time and space and can overcome any adversity.

Rating PG


Up (2009)

An elderly widower, Carl Fredricksen refuses to let go of the past. His unlikely friendship with a persistent young Boy Scout develops in Paradise Falls, a mysterious land he only dreamed of visiting. It’s there that Carl shifts his mindset, realizing that change is simply an opportunity for a new adventure.

Rating PG


Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from adversity, is a skill children can develop and strengthen. Movies offer a practical (and effective) way to teach resilience and inspire children to overcome their own obstacles in creative ways. This list of 20 movies about resilience is the perfect place to begin!

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