10 Fabulous Family-Friendly Musicals

Family-friendly films the whole family will enjoy are hard to come by today. Most people settle for an occasional Disney movie or heavily censored PG-rated movie for movie night. If you are struggling to find some quality films for your family, here is a list of 10 fabulous family-friendly musicals.

Musicals aren’t made just to escape reality. Each presents real and complex events and people in a unique format. History, literature, economics, and science shouldn’t be contained within essays and schoolwork. They should be enjoyed within any type of media. Watching these musicals alongside your student’s studies might even help them understand difficult concepts of history or literature.

Each of these musicals can be paired with our curriculum such as Dave Raymond’s History series (Antiquity, American, and Modernity), Economics for Everybody, and Creative Writing with Jonathan Rogers.

Looking for a world history curriculum?

Try 4 Free Lessons of Dave Raymond’s Modernity

1. My Fair Lady (1964) PG

Starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, this movie will make you want to dance all night (cheesy, I know, but I had to). Each member of your family will love this sweeping, stunning musical. Interestingly, it is the second film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s award-winning play Pygmalion which was based on the Greek myth of the same name.

There are a few d*mns sprinkled throughout the film and some innuendos, but they are so subtle your children won’t pick up on them.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

My Fair Lady touches on two complex eras of history: the Industrial Revolution in England and Greek culture. Dave Raymond’s Modernity and Antiquity curriculum covers these broad topics. Your students will come away with a solid knowledge base that will help them in college and beyond.

Overall we enjoyed Modernity and I am seeing improvement in my teen’s discussion and critical thinking skills. ~ Alex

2. Mary Poppins (1964) G

Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews star in one of the most famous musicals of all time. Julie Andrews was actually meant to play Audrey Hepburn’s role in My Fair Lady, but was instead cast as Mary Poppins, subsequently kick-starting her film career. This is the perfect musical to turn on for your kids while you’re making dinner.

Mary Poppins is actually based on a children’s book series by P. L. Travers. However, should your kids decide to check them out at the library, Walt Disney took quite a few liberties with the film adaptation, which is much more enjoyable as a result.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

Like My Fair Lady, this musical is set during the Industrial Revolution and banking crisis in England immediately before World War 1 broke out. To learn more about this time period, try Dave Raymond’s Modernity series or Economics for Everybody.

Looking for an economics curriculum?

Try 4 Free Lessons of Economics for Everybody​

3. The Music Man (1962) G

This is a fairly underrated musical that has recently regained popularity. It stars Shirley Jones, Robert Preston, and Ron Howard (who starred as Opey Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show). Robert Preston plays the titular character not only in the film but also on Broadway. It is a fun and exciting musical that your whole family will enjoy. This film is not directly influenced by a specific piece of literature or historic story, but does provide an enjoyable look into the American midwest.

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The midwest is distinctly American. Dave Raymond describes the beginning of this part of our country’s history in his American History curriculum.

4. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) G

Even the most well-versed musical enthusiast may not know about this hidden gem. Howard Keel and Jane Powell were two of the most popular musical stars in the ‘50s and their chemistry in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is perfection. Filled with touching duets, laugh out loud groups numbers, and unbelievable dance sequences, this is a must-watch for your next movie night. Like The Music Man, there isn’t much connecting the story to literature or history. It’s really just a sweet and funny story about pioneers in the West.

At one point all the girls say they are pregnant so they can marry the boys they love, but there is very little reference to sex throughout the film.

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The Music Man covers the midwest; this musical covers the settler’s part in the Wild West. Dave Raymond’s American History curriculum brilliantly explains this part of American history.

Looking for an American history curriculum?

Try 4 Free Lessons of Dave Raymond’s American History​

5. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) G

This film is possibly the most perfect musical ever made. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Conner, every single scene is a delight. From the classic “Singing in the Rain” number to the hilarious “Make ‘Em Laugh” comedy routine, you and your kids will love this film. It is a fun and carefree, if not airbrushed, look at Hollywood in the early 1920s as “talkies” took over the world.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

If your students are interested in the era of silent films, try our Filmmaking from the First Directors class. It takes students through a unique journey starting in the late 19th-century when film was invented, then guides them through the steps first directors took in creating the modern language of film. The goal of the class is to teach students how to make films one step at a time.

6. Oklahoma! (1955) G

Ranking number 2 in my list of favorite musicals, Oklahoma! will always hold a special place in my heart. The “People Will Say We’re In Love” and “The Farmer and the Cowman” numbers are two of the most wonderful scenes in any musical. Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae star opposite each other and their chemistry is incomparable. This should definitely go to the top of your watch list. Like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, this film takes a musical look at those who settled the West.

There are three scenes my mother always skipped when we watched this as a family. One is a song about how a girl just “Cain’t Say No” to guys (you know what I’m talking about). If you have younger children they won’t pick up on most of what she says. Another scene is when two characters sing about one character’s death (Once you see Curly and Jud go into the smoke house, just hit fast forward). The last scene is a dream sequence. Technically there isn’t anything inappropriate, it’s just overly long and a little boring.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

Dave Raymond’s American History curriculum details the competition between western farmers and cowboys in the late 1800s if your students are interested in this era.

7. The King and I (1956) PG

Another musical whose soundtrack I grew up hearing, The King and I is a unique and delightful film. Starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brenner, this musical is based on the 1946 film with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison. It is an incredibly touching musical with an ending that will make you reach for the tissues.

Interestingly, this is one of a few musicals based on a real event. In 1870, Anna Leonowens wrote a highly-fictionalized autobiography, The English Governess at the Siamese Court. The novel Anna and the King of Siam was published 1944 by Margaret Landon, a former Christian missionary to Siam (now known as Thailand), who based her book on Mrs. Leonowens’. If your kids are interested in Anna’s story, they would probably enjoy reading about this woman’s fascinating life. However, the real story is a little messy and complicated, so I would recommend these books for high schoolers only.

Like Oklahoma!, there may be a few scenes that you want to skip. The “We Kiss In A Shadow” number is a little much for kids under the age 12. “Prayer To Buddha” is exactly as it’s named and really isn’t necessary to the plot. 

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For a long time, England was the foremost country in the world in commissioning missionaries. Dave Raymond’s Modernity series teaches your students why this is so important in modern history.

8. The Sound of Music (1965) G

Arguably one of the best musicals of all time, this was another staple film while I grew up. Julie Andrews shines as Maria and Christopher Plummer is dashingly handsome as the strict Captain. Not only are the songs catchy and fun but it is based on a true story. The Sound of Music will delight everyone in your family on your next movie night.

If your students enjoy the film or are interested in the Von Trapp family, I would highly encourage them to read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. My sisters and I love it; it provides some fascinating comparison points and gives the perfect epilogue to the beloved family.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

Dave Raymond’s Modern World History curriculum covers World War 2 and the Nazi invasion of Austria if you are looking for a solid, well taught class on modern world history.

9. Kiss Me Kate (1963) G

One of the more unique films on this list, this is a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Starring Howard Keel and Katharine Grayson, the plot showcases their characters’ romance as they attempt to work together in the play. Some of the scenes are a little long, but it is well done and very funny.

There have been so many film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays over the years, this version often gets overlooked. If your student is reading The Taming of the Shrew for school, this could be entertaining and helpful concerning the plot and flowery language.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

The best way to learn how to write well is by studying the masters: Shakespeare, Faulkner, Homer, Tolkien, or Lewis. Our newest curriculum, Creative Writing with Jonathan Rogers, takes your students through C. S. Lewis’ incredible Narnia series, explaining his distinctive writing style.

“Creative Writing has exceeded my expectations and enhanced our study of literature.” ~ Andrea

10. West Side Story (1961) PG-13

Many people say Singin in the Rain or The Sound of Music is the best musical ever made. However, after watching West Side Story, it will be obvious this is the greatest. Like the musical above, it is based on a Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet.

The music is unparalleled, the dancing stunning, the cinematography breathtaking, and the acting tear-jerking. A remake is coming out soon, but I will be actively avoiding it. My sister wants to see it to compare it to the original but in my mind there is only one true version. 

This is definitely a movie for families with kids over 14. Addressing racism, sex, and violence, there are some intense scenes, but none are graphic or overtly inappropriate. One scene depicts a knife fight and in another some boys appear to try to rape a girl but nothing is shown and it is stopped before anything happens.

Click here to watch the film on Amazon.

Though the 1950s were a time of great peace and affluence, there was still unrest under the surface. Dave Raymond’s Modernity curriculum addresses this time period from a distinctly Christian point of view.

I hope you can enjoy one of these family-friendly musicals for your next family movie night. They are sure to become favorites for your family as well as mine!

Some movie links are from Amazon and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Overall we enjoyed Modernity and I am seeing improvement in my teen’s discussion and critical thinking skills. ~ Alex

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