The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the most popular series of all time. It’s been around for 70+ years in the form of books, movies, radio shows, computer games and more!
The plot is simple. A group of siblings stumble into another world through a wardrobe, and once there, they realize that it’s under the control of an evil witch. With the help of new friends – including a powerful lion, a gentle faun, and a bickering pair of beavers – they work together to help good triumph over evil.
It’s a great series, and the movies definitely live up to the magic of the original books. They feature adorable child actors against breathtaking CGI scenery and fun, fantastic moments of make-believe. The first movie even won an Academy Award for makeup!
The only bad thing about Narnia is that it eventually comes to end. When that happens, you’ll need movies like Narnia to fill the void.
What Makes a Movie “Like Narnia”?
Narnia is an epic, adventure-based series filled with swords, ships, battles, talking animals and portals to other worlds. It also promotes good family values such as cooperation between siblings and faith in trusted authority figures.
There’s even a subplot about the kids forgiving their brother after he’s wronged them, so if your children don’t always get along, this movie might have some pointers for maintaining the peace!
Another defining feature of Narnia is that it’s based off a book series, so even after the credits roll, your little ones can stay immersed in the magic by just going to the library.
To be clear, nothing that you watch will be an exact copy of Narnia. Its uniqueness is part of its charm. If you’re just looking for general movies like Chronicles of Narnia, however, here are a few titles that might do the trick!
The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)
Most people are familiar with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. However, some people aren’t aware that there are two sequels: Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
All three movies will sweep your kids into the world of Narnia. From the snowy, ice-covered embankments of the first movie to the sunny and sandy beaches of the third, it’s a realm like none other. The action scenes are impressive as well, and the voice acting of the animals is expertly done.
Additionally, your kids might enjoy seeing the young actors grow up over the course of the series. One of the storylines of the final movie is that the protagonists have become too old to visit Narnia anymore, and while there’s an element of sadness to it, it’s also a lesson about growing up.
If your kids have any anxieties about starting school, going away to camp or not co-sleeping with mommy anymore, the Pevensies can serve as role models for reaching new milestones.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Commonly regarded as one of the best family films ever made, The Wizard of Oz can also continue a post-Narnia flight of imagination into a colorful, musical and fanciful universe.
Let your kids sigh with Dorothy as she sings “Over The Rainbow.” Let them bounce on the couch to “Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead” and regale you over and over with “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”
If you’re lucky, they’ll even extract some meaning from the movie’s messages about home and family, or they’ll apply their critical thinking skills to the differences between Aslan and the Cowardly Lion.
Thanks to digitally remastered versions of the film, you wouldn’t even know that The Wizard is Oz came out in 1939. It definitely withstands the test of time.
If you haven’t introduced the newest generation to flying monkeys and ruby red slippers, it’s time to hit the yellow brick road and get started!
Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Harry Potter needs no introduction. Even more than Narnia, it’s one of the best-selling children’s book series of all time, and it’s also one of the highest-grossing film series in the world.
If you haven’t seen the movies, however, here’s the gist: A young orphan learns that he’s actually a wizard, and he’s whisked away into a new world filled with magic spells, talking animals and evil sorcerers that need defeating.
If you’re looking for something similar to Narnia, Harry Potter should hit the spot. They’re fun, action-packed movies with themes of love, friendship, courage, adventure and doing the right thing.
Some of the later movies might get a bit dark for very young children since they explore the ramifications of fighting a war against evil, but again, one of the central themes is growing up.
You’ll watch the actors morph from cute 11-year-olds into confident, heroic 17-year-olds right before your eyes. It’s satisfying for both kids and adults alike.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
This is cheating a bit since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a spinoff of Harry Potter. However, you don’t have to be familiar with the boy wizard to enjoy this series.
It’s set in the 1920s, and the action takes place in America rather than the UK, making it even more accessible to young American audiences.
The plot centers around Newt Scamander, a young and eccentric wizard who loves magical creatures. His larger-than-life briefcase contains entire landscapes of griffins, thunderbirds, mooncalves, lightning lizards and more.
He winds up teaming up with several other misfits to both protect his menagerie and to fish out the details of rising dark forces in the magical community.
If you’re the cool kind of Muggle who already knows the major players of the Harry Potter universe, you’ll see lots of familiar faces in these films, including a young Dumbledore.
If it’s all new to you, however, just sit back and enjoy the cute CGI animals. Your little ones certainly will.
The Golden Compass (2007)
Based off the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass is set in a parallel world where everyone has a talking animal companion that represents their soul.
This results in both joy and tragedy when evildoers decide to experiment with “severing” children away from their animals – and therefore their souls.
The protagonist of the movie, a little girl named Lyra, must set off on a globetrotting adventure to rescue her friend from this terrible fate.
Along the way, she meets everyone from helpful witches to armor-covered bear kings, and she uses her quick wit and nerve to overcome whatever obstacles are in her way.
If your kids loved Susan and Lucy from the Narnia movies, this is another film to make them believe in girl power.
Since it’s also based on a book series, you can keep the adventure going even after the movie is finished, too. There’s also an HBO adaptation to watch!
Starring Angelina Jolie as the titular character, Maleficent tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s point of view, and it’s a surprisingly sympathetic tale.
If you found yourself rooting for Edmund to realize the error of his ways in Narnia, Maleficent will probably inspire similar feelings in you.
It’s also a gorgeous movie that takes full advantage of its source material to create a beautiful, floral and whimsical aesthetic.
It has all of the charm that you’d expect from a fairy tale and the big-budget special effects to back it up!
At the end of the day, however, the true strength of Maleficent is in its story. The characters are complex; the moral messages are heartfelt.
It’s a movie with a lot of teachable moments that will back up what your children have already learned from Narnia.
Finding Neverland (2004)
Fantasy meets reality in Finding Neverland, a heartfelt movie about a man who meets a widow with four young sons.
He’s a writer, so he’s able to weave together a number of fanciful stories based on their games and adventures, and he even names his central character after one of the boys: Peter.
However, he still has to grapple with certain issues in the real world, including the progression of the widow’s terminal illness.
As you might imagine, there are some serious themes in this movie, but they’re all kept appropriate for the PG rating.
If you were able to answer why Aslan had to die, you’ll probably be okay with the same questions posed about the widow.
Ultimately, Finding Neverland is a movie about unleashing your imagination even in the humdrum of everyday life.
Just as you might find a hidden kingdom behind a wardrobe, you might be able to fly through the sky, dance in ballroom masquerades, or have epic battles as pirates and cowboys… as long as you believe.
A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
A tale so popular that it’s been adapted into a movie and a Netflix mini-series, A Series of Unfortunate Events is an utterly unique experience that combines absurd humor, childhood whimsy, steampunk science and Victorian gothic aesthetics.
The story revolves around the three Baudelaire children who are sent to live with a distant relative, Count Olaf, after the death of their parents. Rather than taking care of them, Olaf concocts a number of elaborate schemes to try and swindle the children out of their inheritance.
To give you an idea of Olaf’s outlandish personality, just know that he’s been played by both Jim Carrey and Neil Patrick Harris!
As for the story itself, you’ll find several similarities to Narnia, including a tight-knit group of siblings who work together to solve problems. Their counter-plots against Olaf are only possible because of their smarts, their ingenuity and their outstanding teamwork.
If your kids need a little reminding now and then that they’re on the same side, this movie might help!
Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away is an animated film from the world-famous Hayao Miyazaki. You might also know him from his production company, Studio Ghibli, which is also behind animated classics such as My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Miyazaki’s movies are noted for their beautiful colors, intricate design work and astonishing attention to detail.
They’re also quite family-friendly, and since they’re Japanese productions, they can provide a peek into Japanese culture with everything from chopsticks and ramen noodles to cherry blossom festivals and yukata-clad crowds.
Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro who must save her parents from a magical transformation by entering the strange, remarkable world of Japanese folklore.
It’s a beautiful and culturally rich tale, so you’ll hook your kids with the visuals and the stories alike.
Don’t worry if they’re too young to read subtitles. The movie has also been dubbed into English, so audiences of all ages can enjoy Chihiro’s adventures.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
The perfect holiday movie, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey combines a fun, lively story with all of the fanfare that you’d expect from a musical, including song, dance, costumes, choreography and more.
The protagonist is a young girl named Journey. Seeking out her reclusive grandfather, a toymaker who went into hiding after his career-making blueprints were stolen years ago, she tries to inspire him to start inventing again by inventing things of her own.
Other characters include her nervous friend Edison, a talking matador doll named Don Juan Diego, and a robot named Buddy 3000 that only works when you believe in him.
They all come together to create a wonderful movie that offers catchy tunes and delightful effects as well as a compelling story about family. It’s sure to warm your heart on a cold Christmas night!
You probably read these books in the ’90s, didn’t you? Well, they’ve been turned into a surprisingly decent movie that stars Jack Black as reclusive author R.L Stine whose stories come alive after some kids accidentally awaken their monsters and mayhem.
All of your favorite “bumps in the night” are back, including Slappy the ventriloquist dummy, Fifi the Vampire Poodle and the gigantic Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
Despite the fact that they could be quite creepy in the original books, they’re very family-friendly here; they exist more as exasperated villains than true horror movie monsters.
Goosebumps itself is only rated PG, so it’s suitable for ages 9+.
If you’re looking for action-packed fantasy movies that might just lead to your kids reading more books, let Goosebumps give you some thrills and chills!
Robin Williams steals the show in Jumanji, a classic blockbuster about a board game where every move winds up reflected in reality.
If the board talks about monkeys, a troop of monkeys will appear in your kitchen and wreck it! If the board talks about jungle vines, they’ll slink through your walls and creep closer and closer to your unsuspecting ankles!
The protagonists of the movie are two kids, a brother-sister pair who team up with Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt to finish the game and make everything go back to the way that it was.
Before they can do that, however, they’ll have to survive everything that the game throws their way…
If you like laugh-out-loud movies with just enough excitement and danger to keep you on the edge of your seat, Jumanji will be a great pick for family movie night.
You might also be interested in the recent remakes, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, though these are geared more towards teens and adults. You might want to watch them yourself before you let the kids at ’em.
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
Another movie based off a children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time follows a young girl and her brother as they undertake a rescue mission for their father, a missing astrophysicist. They must travel across time and space to find him.
Unlike some of the other movies on this list, A Wrinkle in Time is more science fiction than fantasy. While there are still wonderful, fantastical scenes with dazzling special effects, they’re at least somewhat based on real scientific principles and theories.
Another noteworthy aspect of the movie is that the protagonist is biracial, and they made a point of giving her curly and natural hair that she’s proud to have.
If you’re looking for diverse, body-positive films that also feature smart girls going on adventures, this is the one for you. Meg might be small, but she’s certainly mighty!
Rated PG-13, Stardust is sometimes called an “adult fairy tale,” though it still has an enthusiastic audience among kids and teens.
You’ll just want to exercise some caution in determining whether its scenes of romance and battle are appropriate for your little ones.
The plot is simple. There’s a countryside bordering a magical realm where a star has fallen from the sky, and one brave young man decides to cross the border to retrieve the star for his beloved. However, he’s thrown off his game when he realizes that the star has turned into a girl!
Stardust offers fun spells, dreamy landscapes and swashbuckling action scenes for anyone who can appreciate a good old-fashioned fairy tale. Just make sure that your kids can handle some of the more mature PG-13 themes.
Again, this is a film that you might want to watch solo or read reviews about before settling in with the whole family and a bucket of popcorn.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2010-2013)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is based off a popular YA series that’s drawn a lot of comparisons to Harry Potter. In it, a young boy discovers that he’s the half-human, half-demigod offspring of a famous figure in Greek mythology.
Sent to a camp for other kids like him, he jokes his way through a series of adventures that involves flying sneakers, magical hamburgers and pens that turn into swords when uncapped.
As you might have guessed from the summary, the Percy Jackson series is hilarious, and much of its humor is derived from Percy being a funny and relatable 12-year-old.
The author also gave him learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD that actually turn out to be superpowers, which can be an empowering thought for young kids struggling in school.
The one downside of the series is that it’s universally acknowledged that the movies aren’t as good as the books.
However, if you’re just looking for fun, adventurous flicks with young protagonists, consider both The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters.
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Bridge to Terabithia is a classic tearjerker. In fact, you might remember it from your own school days; the book was originally published in 1977, and it’s been a staple of elementary school reading lists ever since.
The story revolves around two young children, a boy and a girl, who escape the bullies of their school by venturing into the woods and creating a made-up magical kingdom called Terabithia.
With a combination of inventiveness and resourcefulness, they conjure up a number of creatures, weapons, artifacts and adventures, and it seems like the wonder will never end.
Until it does.
Bridge to Terabithia can be a difficult movie to watch, but it relays important messages about friendship, loss, sadness and healing, and it does so in a gentle, age-appropriate way.
There’s a reason why parents and teachers have kept coming back to this story for decades and decades. It’s a necessary one.
Based on a Roald Dahl book, Matilda is more of a modern, realistic movie than anything else on this list, but it still has a twist of the supernatural: The heroine is telekinetic!
Neglected by her parents and fueled by her voracious love of books, child prodigy Matilda discovers that she has the ability to make things happen with nothing but the power of her mind.
She forms a bond with a teacher, Miss Honey, who helps her nourish both her brain and her gift, and together, they fight back against the school’s awful Principal Trunchbull.
Matilda is a fun fantasy romp for viewers of all ages. It’s quite relatable, too, despite its magical nature. It explores subjects such as unfairness from teachers and the joy of making new friends in school.
Who knows? Your kids might wind up wanting to read some of Matilda’s favorite books as well!
The Last Airbender (2010)
The Last Airbender gets a lot of criticism from fans of the original Nickelodeon cartoon, so if your kids have already enjoyed the adventures of goofy Aang, kick-butt Katara and wisecracking Sokka, they might not like this live-action adaptation.
If they’ve never seen the original, however, they’ll probably enjoy The Last Airbender for the fun, somewhat nonsensical popcorn flick that it is.
The premise is that the world is divided into different “benders” who can manipulate the four elements at will, and after one evil nation has subjugated the others, a group of kids must combine their bending powers to stop them.
These kids include a pair of siblings and a new friend that they unearth out of an iceberg.
The parallels to Narnia can be seen in everything from the children’s heroic mission to the CGI spectacles that propel them from scene to scene.
If your family likes big action scenes with lots of “wow” factors, let them get a load of the fireballs and kung-fu water waves of The Last Airbender.
The Jungle Book (2016)
If your kids loved the animals in Narnia, they’ll go completely wide-eyed at the bears, tigers, panthers and pythons in The Jungle Book.
The creatures were rendered with a blend of live action and motion capture CGI, and paired with the sweeping jungle scenery of the overall movie, it’s nothing less than a visual masterpiece.
The story is a simple one. A young orphan boy named Mowgli is raised by a wolf pack in the wilderness, but he has to fight for survival as he gets older and encounters other, less welcoming animals who see the “man-cub” as a threat.
As with any coming-of-age story, there’s a strong emphasis on finding and accepting oneself. There’s also danger, intrigue, action and touching cross-species friendships.
Just like the kids from Narnia opened their hearts to creatures who didn’t necessarily look like them, so does Mowgli.
Ultimately, however, the best thing about The Jungle Book is the dazzling visuals. You just have to see them to believe them. They’re so cool!