The perfect documentaries for kids to learn about the world.
I’m a sucker for a good documentary. I could literally watch nothing else on television for the rest of my days. Because I love them so much, I’m always looking for good ones that my kids can watch with me.
I want my kids to be aware of what is going on in the world, how they can be helpful and contribute to the worlds issues. It’s also important for me to show them things that they are unable to see in our community. These are the perfect documentaries for kids.
5 Life Changing Documentaries for Kids of All Ages
A Plastic Ocean
“In this adventure documentary, journalist Craig Leeson teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect.”
Where to watch: Netflix | Amazon Video
Actionable step to take after watching: Start a recycle bin in your home and go to local parks and ponds to pick up litter.
A Place At The Table
“A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.”
Where to watch: Hulu | Amazon Video | iTunes
Actionable step to take after watching: Write to your congressman. This kit gives you the exact tools to do so easily.
“This riveting documentary chronicles the life and adventures of 14-year-old Laura Dekker, who set out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.”
Where to watch: Amazon Video | Google Play | iTunes
Actionable step to take after watching: Have your kids write down their biggest goals and dreams and discuss ways they can grow toward them.
“Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.”
Where to watch: Amazon Video | iTunes | Google Play
Actionable step to take after watching: Plant flowers that bees like such as daisies and marigolds.
“Filmmaker Lee Hirsch examines five cases of youths who endure vicious persecution at the hands of their peers. Ja’meye, 14, winds up in reform school after pulling a gun on the youths who tormented her for years. Cameras record the abuse suffered by 14-year-old Alex as he’s beaten and teased on the bus. Star athlete Kelby, 16, is ostracized and worse after she comes out as lesbian. Most tragic of all, two boys, one 17 and one 12, commit suicide to escape the torture.”
Where to watch: Amazon Video | iTunes | Google Play
Actionable step to take after watching: Pledge never to bully and write down ideas of what to do if you see bullying happening.
This one is for mature kids only. The recomendation is 12+ but I would cautiously take a look here before deciding if your kids should watch or not. It is raw and upsetting but that is all the more reason why it’s important we see it and make change.
There are so many great documentaries for kids and these are just a handful to get you started!
More movies! Check out these 50 movies to watch with your kids before they grow up.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.
This is great, my toddlers may be gtoo young for this but keeping it in mind for the future.
Oh my goodness. This is amazing. Thank you for putting this list together. It’s so hard to find good things to watch as a family. I am grateful for the journal ideas as well.
Thanks for the recommendations, look interesting!
Mrs A says
This is a great list. I love documentaries too and social issues they generally cover are extremely important to teach kids about. Thanks!
Such great suggestions! I’m going to try to get a group of friends together to watch with our kids! Thank you!
Shannon Swilley says
I am curious to know why you didn’t include any documentaries about race relations? Our society has forever been polarized by race and these issues will only worsen if we don’t begin to talk with our children about our current race concerns. I am not trying to create a debate or fight. I am truly asking for my own edification and personal interest in this topic. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Jason Sooter says
I’d be curious to know any suggestions you may have 😉
Thank you for this list and ideas of actionable steps. My oldest daughter loves watching documentaries with me. We have not watched these yet so I am excited to show her the list!
I really thought I was all alone in the world! Yay me!! I love history. I love documentaries etc. As an mother of 4 beautiful children i don’t have time to waste. If I’m watching tv it’s either a documentary, at least Based of a true story, or something the kids want to watch. I never thought i could watch Documentaries WITH THEM!! Thank you so much
Thanks for the post! Were always in search of family friendly things to watch. Kirk Cameron has an excellent doc on Netflix called Connect. Another one our family enjoyed was The Kindness Diaries also on Netflix.
By the year 2050, there will be 10 billion people to feed. We will have less land for people to live on & even less land to grow crops & livestock on. Before you are so quick to ridicule the Agriculture industry’s practice be ready to throw away your leather items and so many other everyday items and start producing your OWN food in a 12’ x12’ space in your yard.
Scientists today are researching ways for us to feed this planet with as little space as possible. There are too many people that are afraid of science, because they don’t understand it, that are standing in the way of others trying to feed this planet. Please let us do what we do best! We are this Planet’s First Environmentalists! We live and make a living off the land, we don’t want to damage it. We have learned from the past generations of agriculturists and continue to learn through research how to make more with less. We need to work together.
Hmmm I’m feeling a little uneasy about the last one “the bully” I’m sure how kid friendly that sounds.
But all the other ones sounds amazing
Lee Anne says
No thanks, I will let my children be children and not terrify them with adult issues.
How about 10 documentaries, including one on
relationships in families (how to relate to one another and bring out positive reactions), one on manners (in relationship to bullying), one on dogs and puppies or cats and kittens. I watched one non-graphic one recently that may be good for those asking “where do babies come from?” Of course, adaptations would be needed for a human question. Your choice on adaptations. One on history, a short synopsis of American history in it’s TRUE form. Culture is important. Maybe something on geology and how the earth came to be. Suggestions mentioned in the article are great. A wider view things would be good. I forgot to mention climate change and how humans affect it. Thank you.
Dr. Patricia Abad says
I have only watched “A plastic ocean” from this list and it is eye opening. We watched it with our young children (7 and 4) last year and have made many habit changes since then.
The answer/action, rather than starting a recycling bin at home, is REDUCING the consumption, of everything. Recycling often times involves even more resources than manufacturing a product from scratch. Unfortunately, policy making is far from where it should be to limit the amount of fossil fuel and other resources this nation uses. Everything is packaged in plastic, many times double or triple packaged. Paper is packaged in plastic. Reducing the use is the answer. When going to a store, ask yourself whether you really need that plastic bag (or a paper bag). Bring your own bag, leave these in your trunk. When brushing teeth, use a pea size amount of toothpaste. That is all that a dentist recommends. If you cut your toothpaste use to 1/4, for example, in the time you would’ve used 4 tubes, you’ll use only 1 and will save our planet from that extra strain. Take your own “to go” mug to Starbucks, or ask for a mug if you’re staying at the store. We can all make simple habit changes that can relieve the environmental burden considerably. The issue is not just about harming marine life, plastic consumption is harming human life as well. Microplastics have been found in human stool. Chemicals used in plastic manufacturing, that leech out of the package and onto food/beverage packaged in plastic, have been linked to disease, including autoimmunity and cancer. The time is now to make changes.
If you care, go to Change.org and you will see the many petitions currently circulating around plastic consumption, and sign them. We all need to work together to drive change.
Another great documentary on a related note is “Decoding the weather machine.” We also watched it with our children, in two steps.