Now Reading
Books and Movies – A Study Guide for Parents. Top Movies to Watch with Children during Lockdown. A Q&A with School Leaders on the Power of Film in Education.

Books and Movies – A Study Guide for Parents. Top Movies to Watch with Children during Lockdown. A Q&A with School Leaders on the Power of Film in Education.

by Jane TalbotJune 28, 2020

How to Use this Guide: Books and Movies – A Study Guide for Parents During Lockdown.

Books and Movies - A Study Guide for Parents. Top 22 Movies to Watch with Children during Lockdown.

In the following Study Guide, we take a look at movies and try and get to the bottom of how important they are – or should be, in educating our children.

[Note: some film trailers are included in this article and we have ensured that they are age appropriate]

First, we look at how watching films can help us as parents tackle some of the issues being thrown up by home learning as we teach our children under lockdown.

Second, we look at what experts have to say about the way children learn best – and how film ticks a lot of boxes in enabling student’s to fire up all their senses to engage with what they are being taught.

Third, we consider issues of screen time and worries we all have as parents about how much time is the right amount of time for our children to be studying in from of a screen.

In Part 4, you will find our list of recommendations for a top 25 movies in education, whether because they can be used to support reading, or because they have a value in their own right in one part or more of the curriculum. We have tried to provide a cross spectrum of movies suitable for children of different ages.


Finally, In part 5, we provide a Q&A with some key leaders and experts from our schools to gauge their views on the value of using films in education together with their recommendations for films that can help inspire children during lockdown …. and beyond.

This is a part of our “Long Read” series of in-depth study guides, so fasten your seat belts ….


Part 1: Movies and Home Learning. 

Books and Movies - A Study Guide for Parents. We look at how films can be used to bring books to life and inspire a child's love of reading. Top Movies for School revealed.

Home learning is not easy.

Many children are finding projects set by schools difficult, and in some cases incomprehensible. Without the teacher present in the classroom to support them, many parents are finding themselves having to take on the role of teacher to support their children – and some of the projects are beyond them.

We are not teachers – that is why we send our children to school.

As a parent, being placed in a position in which we cannot help our children as they look to us to support them, can be heart breaking. Worse, it can lead to stress and upset.

Take Mathematics. Many of us, as parents, struggle with explaining Mathematics to children – particularly if they have been taught different ways of completing mathematical problems. The result of parents confusing children with different methods to those taught by schools can result in upset for both children and families. Learning can go backwards.

The same holds true for many other subjects in which, as parents, we simply do not have the required knowledge, or ways of explaining how to apply it, to support our children.

Parents must not feel alone. Again, we are not teachers – and, to be fair, very few schools are expecting us to be.

The advice of schools for parents is becoming increasingly clearer as the challenges of lockdown unfurl: do what you can as a parent and, when children do return to schools, teachers will be there to ensure that every child catches up.

For many of us, the absolute worse position to put our children in, is to present them with home learning projects set by schools that they cannot complete – and that we, as parents, cannot support them in completing. The schools are, to be fair, facing inevitable challenges in matching home work to students given that they are away from school.

So what can we do?

For parents struggling with home learning, filling homes with books and inspiring in our children a passion for reading, is the strategy that no one is arguing with.

When all else fails, time assigned at home to lessons can be used for reading.

Reading is the most powerful educational tool human beings have at any stage of their life, and home learning gives us all, as parents, the chance to inspire our children to read more – and often more than even when our children were physically at school. In some cases much more.

Distance learning should then, be seen as an opportunity for our children to read – and in many cases move way beyond their expected reading levels.

Our children have the chance to move ahead in reading, leaving room for schools to concentrate in helping children catch up in other areas of the curriculum – and particularly those in which they are struggling – when they return.

And one strategy that works well for many families is to choose books that have also been made into films. Films can inspire children to read to get the chance to watch the film – and open the thought pathways to critically deconstruct films, when comparing them with the books themselves, to see how much they capture the spirit of the books they have read.


Part 2: The View of Experts: Movies as Tool to Bring Learning to Life for Children

Books and Movies - A Study Guide for Parents. Top 22 Movies to Watch with Children during Lockdown.

Film is a powerful multi-sensory, modern educational tool that helps to inspire a love of learning, bring books to life and develop empathy.

More schools than ever too are, today, using films to bring education to life.

From using the latest BBC adaptation of Hardy’s To the Madding Crowd or Orwell’s 1984, to inspire debate in English, to immersion in films within Media Studies, films are playing an increasingly important role in education in bringing learning alive for children. They are also a key tool in inspiring rich, critical thinking as students work through their understanding and responses to a book – and those of the filmmaker.

“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.”

Martin Scorsese.

As insight of how a child’s mind develops increases, as learning disorders are unveiled and understood – and as modern educators discover more ways in which to involve all of the senses in learning, the power of film as a form of multi-sensory education is becoming a powerful tool for educators.

Many of us too found the use of film widespread in our university degree study – and this recognition of film is now cascading down from universities to high performing schools.

The days of one-dimensional teaching, where children learn by rote and repetition, lined up in rows staring at an omnipresent teacher, are, or should be, over. Instead classrooms have become places where children critically engage with each other, and films can provide a unique shared springboard for debate.

Learning is not the memorisation of facts but their creative, practical and theoretical application. Knowing a fact is not the same thing as solving a problem. If Coronavirus Covid 19 has taught us anything it is that the world needs solutions and ways for all of us to critically assess the information presented to us.

The archaic, directed ways of teaching and learning disadvantages all children – and is severest in children of determination, including the most gifted children. It also fundamentally misunderstands that we all have different ways of learning – some of us respond to abstract thinking, others learn visually, through sound or by physically engaging with learning in some way.

Multi –sensory teaching techniques, including the use of film, communicate a learning outcome in different ways. No child is the same – and film allows teaching through multiple senses and emotions – it is an educational medium which intrinsically responds to the very broadest range of needs of different children’s learning styles.

For many students too, film can be a much more interesting way to learn – and a springboard into reading. This can be to find out more, get the “real story” and find secrets that they can then share with their peers. Books are the “primary source” – the holy grail of knowledge from which they can debate a film’s merits with their peers.

Films may be, for some children, a fun way of learning – but their capacity to educate is serious and powerful.

Increasingly, in the best schools, the old view that films in some way dumb down the “real” learning in books is seen as not only wrong – but damaging.

With very few exceptions too, what films teach children above all is that books are invariably better, or at the least, “differently-better”.


What is Multi-Sensory Learning? Why Watching Films can Help in the Education of Our Children.

Multi-sensory learning is simply the idea that we learn best when we engage the whole brain by stimulating sight, sound, touch, feel, taste and kinaesthetics (for example, through the movement of the body).

A 2018 study by the University of Washington, measured blood flow through the brain to assess brain activity in young readers. The study concluded that those with the strongest literacy skills had the most inter-connectivity between the different zones in their brain. This tells us that the more senses that we stimulate during a learning experience, the more synaptic connections the mind forms – and the greater the capacity for memory and learning.

We remember things that are important to us. For some of us that means that they inspire feeling, for some that they conjure up a connection, for some they offer a solution to a problem that means something to us. A memorised fact, to have educational value, generally needs to be associated with a value, a utility, a meaning.

Multi-sensory learning is a type of learning which engages at least two senses.

We are all unique and different senses have different impacts on each of us.

Multi-sensory teaching is increasingly seen as the game changer in education, providing a learning technique that equalises the possibility of comprehension for all students, regardless of the lean of their cognitive processes.

Movies are particularly powerful because they educate using a huge number of multi-sensory levers simultaneously, from emotion and direct engagement with sound and visuals to the shared experience of watching together.

They have the power to engage multiple senses and to stimulate emotions – and rapidly. Films apply facts in a narrative structure of beginning middle and end, just as books, but add music, sound, visuals and, often, a shared experience into the mix.

Little wonder that using films and books together has almost unimaginable power in learning.


Film as A Learning Tool.

Just like our favourite books have the power to influence and inspire us (discover more here), (good) films have equivalent power to transport us to other mesmerising world.

“I sense the power of film….. Movies have the power to literally change people’s minds. That’s pretty powerful stuff when you consider it.”

Nicholas Cage

Film can leave a lasting imprint in our minds and hearts with the power to fundamentally change the way in which we view the world and ourselves within it.

We can immerse ourselves into the experiences of a young refugee in hiding during World War 2, we can battle monsters in outer space, we can fight Gladiators in ancient Rome or discover a magical world by stepping tentatively through the back of an old wardrobe.

Students do this through the amazing power of human imagination and the equally powerful learned skill of empathy, inspiring them to step into another person’s shoes, to imagine and understand what they must be thinking and feeling in any given situation.

Empathy is an essential human quality and a commodity that many global corporations covet above hard skills. Empathy is known to reduce stress, improve communication skills, foster resilience, help you to understand the needs of those around you and improve emotional intelligence making it a skill that impacts every aspect of everyday life. The ability to empathise has become a powerful currency that international powerhouse corporations, such as Google and Microsoft consider a must have in their employees.

“Movies are like a machine that generates empathy. They let us understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. They help us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”

Roger Ebert. Film critic.


Part 3: Should I be worried that Films only Add to Too Much Screen Time

ooks and Movies - A Study Guide for Parents. Top 22 Movies to Watch with Children during Lockdown.

But isn’t screen time supposed to be bad for our children?

This way of understanding the power of movies as an educational tool, rewrites the rule book that has been drummed into us that said we should do our utmost to reduce the amount of screen time that are children are exposed to.

Obesity, mental health deterioration, insomnia, blurred vision, headaches and poor posture have all been blamed on screen time by medical professionals and Government bodies.

But, as with all things, balance is the key.

However, unexpected and unprecedented, Covid 19 has launched remote learning into our lives. According to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), 90% of the world’s student population is physically cut off from school, so a new reliance on screens that were once considered with reproach, has become a necessity if students are to engage educationally and to communicate socially. And as such, we are forced to rethink our attitude toward screen time.

The fight against screen time is real but the fight is not against the kind of screen time that offers a positive influence in our lives.

Educationally, it is less the amount of screen time that matters, but, rather, the quality of the screen time content.

Our fight as parents must be against screen time that offers no positive educational, emotional, social, physical or cognitive benefits – including mindless and (often) negative social media apps that, more often than not, can leave our children feeling further isolated, insecure and unfulfilled.

The experts at UNICEF suggest that it is a matter of finding the balance and using screen time in a variety of ways to:

  • Help children to stay in touch with their friends during this unprecedented time of uncertainty and confusion, which will help to express their emotions and find solace in (virtual) company
  • Help children to retain their vital connection to their extended families and to help see hope at the end of the social distancing tunnel
  • Help children to engage in physical activity through assignments sent by their schools PE department or through active video games or online exercise forums (a great example of this is the now hugely popular Joe Wick daily PE, available on You Tube)
  • Help children to continue their education through assignments sent by teachers and by virtual meeting with their teachers for extra support or guidance

In fact, under the current lock down regime, screen time is an absolute necessity: it just needs to be quality screen time.


Film as Quality Screen Time.

David Walliams Boy in the Red Dress shows how Books and Movies can be brought together to educate children and inspire critical thinking and whole child development

Film, whether based in factual events or the wonders of the imagination, can be a mighty learning tool. A film can optimistically encourage a young person to believe in their own abilities and the achievability of their dreams, like Chris Gardener in ‘Pursuit Of Happiness’. Film can inspire a career path that a child may have otherwise thought was beyond their reach or social status, like the character and film ‘Erin Brockovich’ and film can rouse a shift in acceptance of non-conventional gender roles and social norms like brave, dancing Billy Elliot or Walliams Boy in the Red Dress [the BBC film production is recommended]. Film can bring complex political themes to life like those addressed in the latest BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – an adaptation too that has inspired thousands of children (and adults) to read his novels.


The Benefits of Film in Education

  • Film can give access to knowledge in ways that simply cannot be achieved in books – in Science, for example, is hard to argue against the impact and value of Attenborough narrated series like Dynasties, the Blue Planet and Planet Earth. Visually alone, no book can capture the detail of the natural world in the extraordinary ways that these series do so in lifelike 4K. Often they take us closer to nature than even being there in person can, and give our children access to parts of the world that are accessible to only the most accomplished and courageous explorers.
  • Film is a great equaliser for those with perception disorders like dyspraxia or dyslexia; visual learners are not hindered by the limitations that come with reading disorders.
  • Just like reading a book, watching a film allows the viewer great insight into the world of people and characters from different cultures, countries and walks of life. They can observe how perspectives differ in other societies, improving empathy and their understanding of geography and social studies.
  • The concepts of theme, genres and styles are clearly defined in film and can help the viewer to understand how learning is structured.
  • Will the current pandemic environment; it is almost impossible for students to engage in conversation when they are learning a new language. By immersing oneself in a foreign language film, children can experience second languages in context and real time. Subtitles are proven to improve reading and literacy skills.
  • A film such as ‘Ghandi’, for example, brings cultural, political, and historical context to life and inspires further research and reading.


Part 4: Top 20 (+) Movies for Lockdown

Choosing a top movies for students is a brave endeavour and films divide as many opinions as books. But the following all came back to us as recommended from one or more teachers and all have a direct reference in a founding book.

1. Animal Farm

This animated take on George Orwell’s classic tale of power and corruption is very true to the novel’s telling of a world in which farm animals revolt against human oppression to live under their own new regime of ‘animalism’. The result is a world in which history repeats itself as the new leadership battle for power and control over the farm with even more oppression and cruelty than they regime they sought to replace. Parents should note that, despite being animated, this is a very powerful and disturbing telling of the Orwell classic and like all films here should be watched with a view to deciding how appropriate it is for your child to watch.

Subjects: GCSE English Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Politics, and Political-History.

Age rating: Although the 1954 version is animated, the premise is really suitable older children. 13+

Why we recommend it: Animal farm mirrors societies inequalities and the seduction of absolute power and greed. It is a novel that raises awareness of the importance of freedom and democracy. Its brutal, shocking and powerful warning against the dangers of absolute power and totalitarianism inspires political debate and understanding.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


2. The Crucible

A movie inspired by Arthur Miller’s intense exploration of the Salem Witch trials in Colonial Massachusetts in the late 1700s, the book and film exploring religious fervour, violence, self-preservation, paranoia and mob mania. Both highlights the danger of ignorance and misconception.

Subjects: GCSE English literature, Religious Studies, Drama, American History.

Age rating: 13+

Why we recommend it: The Crucible is a lesson in human frailty and a powerful historical example of how ignorance and the abuse of power fed mob fervour and reactionary persecution.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


3. Hamlet

The classic and well-loved Shakespearian play, adapted for film in 1996 by Kenneth Branagh, requires endurance. Despite, however, being 4-hours long, this adaptation  is digestible in bite size pieces.

The movie tells the story of young Hamlet, Prince of Denmark who travels home from school after the death of his Father. A visit from his Father’s ghost sees Hamlet swear vengeance on his Father’s murderer, Hamlet’s own Uncle, who now sits on the throne and has married Hamlet’s mother.

Hamlet’s story is an emotional, complicated and powerful journey of vengeance, procrastination, murder, family tragedy, plot, pomp and sabotage.

Subjects: GCSE & A Level English Literature, English Language, and Drama

Age rating: 14+

Why we recommend it: The story intriguingly draws out Shakespeare’s tale of how an action based on morality can become twisted and broken as Hamlet’s sins become greater that the act he is trying to avenge. The film, as the book, provide a rich story and study of ethical dilemma.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


4. Far From the Madding Crowd

Set in rural South England, Far From The Madding Crowd is a stalwart of A Level study in English Literature. There have been 4 film adaptations of the classic, but the Oscar nominated version in 1967 by John Schlesinger is arguably the most accessible.

The film follows the story of Bathsheba and her 3 suitors but is far from being your average romantic comedy. Instead both book and film present an intense study of characters and human experience, from murder to the macabre. The film does not capture any of the detail of Hardy’s extraordinary descriptions of nature, but it does help inspire varying conceptions and viewpoints on the narrative fable that twists and turns its way to a happy ending.

Subjects: GCSE & A Level English Literature, English Language, Drama, Sociology, and Feminist-History

Age rating: PG – 13+

Why we recommend it:  The character Bathsheba is a spirited, ambitious, proud and independent female depicted in Victorian England, a time when being a woman was a major social and economic disadvantage. There is also a moral thread running through the story of the importance of valour over commodities.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


5. Lawrence Of Arabia

Released in 1962, Lawrence of Arabia is a British epic historical drama based on the authorised biography of Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer in Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Lawrence was renowned for his role in the Arab Revolt and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War – and it would be churlish not to include the movie and book from a Top 25 written in the UAE.

The movie depicts a cinematic interpretation of the bold journey of Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence who defies his orders and strikes out on a daring mission across the desert to attack a Turkish stronghold.

This classic movie is a wonderful example of acting and dramatic film-making and is considered by some to be one of the best movies ever made.

Subjects: GCSE History, Film Studies, and Geography

Age rating: PG

Why we recommend it:  Lawrence of Arabia is based on historical facts, depicts a main character that is flawed and violent yet morally impassioned. It is also a visual masterpiece of filmmaking.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


6. Little Women

Little Women is an iconic novel written by American author Louisa May Alcott and originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Currently there are 6 feature film adaptations of the novel, which speaks to the high regard in which the story is held by readers.

The 1994 movie and most recent 2019 versions are stand-out.

The film follows the lives of Beth, Jo, Amy and Meg, wildly singular sisters living in Massachusetts around the time of the American Civil War. The story follows the struggles of the four siblings coming of age in a world where the role of a young woman is limited to getting married and raising children in a patriarchal world that subjugates women and crushes out freedom. The protagonists seek to break the mould and to live their lives, against all the odds, on their own terms in an anthemic powerhouse of a call for the value of both sexes and the overwhelming power of Good to overcome oppression.

Subjects: GCSE English Language, English literature, History

Age rating: PG

Why we recommend it: The story talks intelligently of youthful idealism and the inevitable and crushing compromise that comes with adulthood. There is self-sacrifice, rivalry, death and grieving, lofty aspirations, and multiple representations of the many forms that love can take. Its capacity to celebrate women and provide an indictment of sexism remains as powerful today as when it was written. Absolutely beautiful book – and film. Note: gilm and book are suitable for children (and adults) of all ages. Highly recommended.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


7. Lord of the Flies 

The Nobel Prize–winning British author William Golding, wrote the horrific novel Lord of the Flies in 1954. The story centres on a group of young British boys who become stranded on an uninhabited island and the film and book unveil with mounting terror and dread their catastrophic efforts to govern themselves.

In the 1963 and 1990 movie adaptations the stranded boys are Americanised, however the book’s focus on the calamitous capacity of power to corrupt and the damage that the human will for power wreaks on all that is important retain their force.

The film explores what happens when, after becoming stranded on a desert island, the group splits into two factions, one attempting to follow the values of society and the other resorting to animalistic savagery for survival. The results are deadly and harrowing, with the head of a wild boar as a symbolic centrepiece of their struggle.

Both book and film are extremely upsetting, and parents should consider the age appropriateness of both. For many of us, both movie and film are something to suffer because they are part of a good British education rather than anything we would wish to revisit. On a personal note, the book still gives me nightmares. Worth noting too that recent history has shown that children washed up on a desert island, in real life, do not turn into monsters. More from the Guardian newspaper to give some optimism in the fundamental goodness of human beings here.

Subjects: GCSE English Literature, English Language, Sociology, Psychology, Politics.

Age rating: PG 15

Why we recommend it: A classic that has stood the test of time, the movie telling is thought provoking and memorable. Lord of the Flies, for good or bad, is part of the canon of English literature for young adults. It’s just the stuff of nightmares ……

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


8. Macbeth

Another classic Shakespearian tale made into a movie, Macbeth is the story of a brave Scotsman who is given prophesies by 3 dark and mysterious witches foretelling nobility and betrayal.

Obsessive and neurotic, Macbeth is spurred into action by his ambitious wife to murder his uncle so that they can ascend to the Scottish throne.

As their neuroses spiral, they become depressed and desperate souls wracked with guilt and paranoia, this leading to their ultimate death.

The 2015 movie is fabulous.

Subjects: GCSE English Literature, English Language, Drama.

Age rating: 14+

Why we recommend it: A disturbing and intriguing tale of greed ambition and morality, Macbeth is classic Shakespeare. This is a moral tale that speaks of the power of the human conscience and the consequences of actions taken in a state of selfishness. It remains the case, however, that no movie retelling of the play comes close to capturing its force on stage.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


9. Of Mice and Men

Published in 1927, Of Mice And Men is a novel written by John Steinbeck based on his own experiences working alongside migrant workers as a teenager. The story tells of 2 displaced migrant ranch workers moving from place to place in search of work opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.

The movie version was released in 1992 to some acclaim. True to the novel, the movie is a sincere and original fable with complicated characters that form powerful friendships in an unjust world.

Subjects: GCSE English Literature, English Language, American History, Psychology

Age rating: PG

Why we recommend it: The power of friendship and the harsh realities of an unjust world are as relevant today as to their time. The plight of immigrant and migrant workers is also timely and geographically relevant.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


10. Pride and Prejudice

Written by Jane Austin 1813, Pride And Prejudice is a surprising and romantic novel that has proven ahead of its time. There have been countless adaptations of this literary classic, however the most commonly celebrated are the 2005 and 1995 versions of the novel.

Reflective of the social norms, issues and themes that affected the women of that era, including the realities of war, the pressures on women to marry and the unfairness of the inheritance laws, the novel is an intriguing glimpse into the past with delightful characters and a happy ending.

Subjects: A level/GCSE English Literature, English Language, History, Sociology

Age rating: PG

Why we recommend it: A lesson in the pitfalls of pride and the consequence of prejudice, the movie speaks of love and life in a period of enormous social change.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


11. Romeo and Juliet

This classic Shakespeare was written early in the author’s career and is considered one of his most endearing, romantic, tragic and timeless masterpieces. The story tells of an old family vendetta that has far reaching consequences for two star-crossed lovers who become caught in the middle of a bitter conflict. There have been a number of movie adaptions over the years. The most popular modern version, and one suitable for teens, is the Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 re-telling. For younger audiences the Disney machine produced the fun and light-hearted Gnomeo and Juliet that has an alternative happy ending.

Subjects: A level/GCSE English Literature, English Language

Age rating: Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 – PG13.  Gnomeo and Juliet – PG

Why we recommend it: Arguably Shakespeare’s most loved story, Romeo And Juliet tells of young passion and the dichotomy of romantic love and deep rooted hatred. There are so many themes and nuances running throughout the fable and complicated characters that true, to the human condition, making the story resonate. Neither, however, replicate the power of Shakespeare’s language.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


12. To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee released To Kill A Mockingbird in 1960 to instant acclaim. The novel has since become a classic of modern American literature, winning a Pulitzer Prize.

The story is set in 1930’s Alabama with a lawyer’s attempt to prove the innocence of a wrongly accused man with a frighteningly racially divided society. Currently listed as the 29th best film of all time in a poll by the Internet Movie Database, the 1962 movie tells the story of racial injustice in Deep South America through the eyes of a young child. Harper Lee’s only known interview about to Kill a Mockingbird can be found here – in the one of the final interviews she gave before her death.

Subjects: A level/GCSE English Literature, English Language, American History, Sociology. Socioeconomics.

Age rating: PG 13+

Why we recommend it: The themes running through this book, including its study of race and coming of age, are deeply moral ones and the book is often seen as fundamental to any whole child constructed curriculum. Like almost every movies in our Top 25 the books operates as both a warning against oppression and a celebration of the potential power of the human spirit to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


13. An Inspector Calls

The English playwright J.B Priestley penned this classic in the early 1940’s. Ostensibly an Agatha Christie style murder mystery whodunit, the reality is a play that rips apart justifications for class and oppression as well as tackling themes of redemption, mysticism and religion. The play can be seen as an inverted telling of It’s a Wonderful Life in which characters are presented with the horrific impacts of their actions on the world. By the time they realise their mistakes, here there is, however, no angel left to save them. We recommend the 2015 BBC production.

The story centres on the apparent suicide of a young women and the mysterious Inspector Goole who arrives to interrogate the Birling family. As the plot unfolds the unsuspecting family discover that they all are all caught up in the girl’s untimely death.

Discussions on the identity of Inspector Goole at the end of the novel is certain to inspire debate and questions – and, because of the power of the story, any watcher would be hard pressed not to care deeply about its potential answers.

Subjects: A level/GCSE English Literature, English Language

Age Rating: PG 13+ (because of the complexity of the story line for some children)

Why we recommend it: The ending is particularly noteworthy as it creates more problems than it solves; God or time traveller (as our 11 year old suggested) – you decide…… The family realise their moral frailty in the face of the inspector’s rally for shared humanity – a very prescient and humbling theme given Coronavirus and the different responses to it around the world. We also rate this as the absolute best introduction for children to reading plays and scripts. Very highly recommended.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


14. 1984 (The 1954 Black and White Version)


The last novel ever written by George Orwell, 1984 is the story of Winston Smith’s wrestle with the oppression of ‘the party’ in Oceania. The movie depicts the tyranny of the population of Oceania who are brainwashed into mindless obedience. The protagonist’s role in the party is to rewrite history to bring it line with the party’s instruction, but his moral code leads him to rebel and begin a secret relationship. He is caught, tortured and broken by the party under the guise of re-education. Bleak and memorable, the film and novel are potent, horrific warnings of a future with all too many similarities with our present for comfort.

Note: we have recommended the 1954 version because the later film adaptation is not suitable for anyone under the age of 17. Worth noting that the later version is available with two endings – one “happy” and one accurate to the novel – which can lead to interesting debate.

Subjects: A level/GCSE English Literature, English Language, Politics, Sociology, Psychology

Age Rating: 17+ with caution for the later 1984 version with John Hurt

Why we recommend it: A warning against totalitarianism, the concepts of this story are instantly recognisable under the labels of Big Brother and Thought Police. With the influence of social media and the accepted reality of a world today in which we are all observed and monitored, and even more frightening, welcome being observed and monitored, the learning outcomes of this story are relevant and cautionary. Parents should note that the later film is not suitable for children under the age of 17 and, even then. should be watched with caution. It is harrowing even for an adult. We recommend reading the book with E. M. Forster’s short story The Machine Stops.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


15. The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, originally published in 1985, is written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The dystopian novel is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state, known as Gilead, that has overthrown the United States government.

Ruled under a fundamentalist regime, the state treats women as property who are banned from media exposure. Under threat of extinction caused by environmental disasters and plummeting fertility, the women struggle for individuality and independence.

The Natasha Richardson movie is arguably a car crash – but the EMMY award-winning HBO re-telling is extremely powerful and was made in conjunction with Atwood.

Subjects: A level Sociology, Psychology, Politics, Religious Studies, Geography

Age Rating: 16+

Why we recommend it: Arguably the most powerful of modern dystopian novels dealing with feminist issues of religious, political and patriarchal oppression, the novel is being increasingly viewed as a key part of the 21st century canon. “I was asleep before, that’s how we let it happen….” remains a terrifyingly relevant warning of sleepwalking into oppression ……

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


16. Apollo 13

Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 is a work of non-fiction published in 1994 by astronaut Jim Lovell and journalist Jeffrey Kluger. The story details the now famous failed Apollo 13 lunar landing mission, which Lovell commanded in April 1970. Considered a Docudrama the movie is an accurate re-telling of the quest to save the astronauts aboard the ill-fated craft.

Subjects: A level/GCSE, Science, Physics, Maths, Astronomy

Age rating: PG

Why we recommend it: The story makes for an incredible adventure, detailing the scientific failings of the lunar mission, the determined success of human endeavour and the teamwork that it took to bring the astronauts home.

This is a true story brilliantly portrayed on the silver screen and we think has the capacity to inspire a whole new generation of scientists, mathematicians and explorers. Worth asking the question after watching it why we still have far too few female engineers and astronauts ……

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


17. The Martian

The debut novel of Andy Weir, the Martian was made into a movie in 2015 to considerable critical acclaim.

The story tells of Mark Whatney who, accidentally left for dead on the planet Mars, struggles for survival on a hostile planet with only his scientific knowledge, thirst for survival and wit to guide him. His personal struggle plays out within the drama of members of NASA and international scientists working relentlessly for a solution to bring him home and the hatching of a plan by his crewmates to bring him home.

Subjects: Maths, Science, Astrology, Botany, Physics, and Psychology

Age rating: PG 12+

Why we recommend it: A rollercoaster story of formidable human spirit, the Martian speaks of the power of positivity, hope, perseverance and what can be achieved with the application of knowledge. It is also very funny, bringing humanity and inspiration to Science. If movies like this can inspire in young people an interest in the Sciences it has achieved more than the sum of its parts ….

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


18. Hidden Figures

Margot Lee Shetterly wrote another inspirational story from NASA, Hidden Figures, in 2016. The Academy Award winning movie adaptation of the same name brings to life the incredible true story of 3 black women with brilliant scientific and mathematical minds who helped NASA to win the Space Race with their contributions to one of the greatest space missions of all time.

Subjects: Maths, Science, Astrology, Physics, Sociology, and American History, Design and Technology

Age rating: PG 13+

Why we recommend it: The story is a true and inspirational one that highlights some of humankinds’ greatest achievements, while also showcasing the absolutely triumphant role of women in the face of gender and racial inequality – and the destructive power of both discrimination and segregation. The book is tour de force for children, in inspiring respect for Science and Mathematics.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


19. Good Will Hunting

Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Good Will Hunting was written specifically for the film industry. Released in 1998, the movie won an Academy Award.

The film follows a 20-year-old with a difficult childhood, a quick temper, a police record and a chip on his shoulder whose undiscovered mathematical genius sees him turn his life around with the help of a patient teacher and a therapist.

Subjects: GCSE Maths, Sociology, and Psychology

Age rating: PG 13+

Why we recommend it: More than your average coming of age movie, Good Will Hunting examines the difference between intelligence and education, self-worth, self-destruction and the power of love. It is a clarion call for the importance of living life and not just reading about it in books. If there was ever a movie to put the rote learning style of education in its place, this is it.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


20. Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is a 2012 American drama based on Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel The Silver Linings Playbook. The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, with Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles in supporting roles.

The film plays out a love story between two protagonists labelled as mentally ill, incapable of functioning in modern society, without value and beyond redemption. The story powerfully switches all these assumptions on their head.

Subjects: GCSE Sociology, Philosophy and Psychology

Age rating: 15

Why we recommend it: The book and film provide positive role models for understanding OCD and bi-polar disorder, in doing so questioning prejudices about mental illness. We are left celebrating diversity and difference in the ways each of us respond to the world – and whether sanity is quite all that it is hyped up to be. Highly recommended.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


21. The Man Who Knew Infinity

A biography of the life of the genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, The Man Who Knew Infinity was written in 1991 and the film adaptation was released in 2015. The movie follows the extraordinary academic career of a mathematician whose genius outweighed the extreme poverty in which he was born. Escaping Madras India for Trinity College London after reaching out to professor G.H Hardy, Ramanujan goes on to leave an impressive legacy in the partition of numbers. He tragically dies at the young age of 32 from a liver disease.

Subjects: GCSE/A Level Maths, Geography, Sociology

Age rating: PG 13+

Why we recommend it: An inspiring true story, this rags to, not riches, but respect, story is inspiring and hope-filled in equal measure. The story is beautifully successful at how we can see Mathematics as a creative endeavour rather than as the ostensibly barren and sterile exercise in emotionless and meaningless addition and subtraction.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


22. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

A novel written by Ken Kesey in 1962, the movie version won 5 American Academy Awards.

The protagonist, Randle Patrick McMurphy fakes insanity to be transferred for evaluation from a prison to a mental institution. There, he meets and locks horns with his nemesis Nurse Ratchet who is an oppressive, cruel spirit-crushing antagonist.

The patients are abused, electrocuted, emasculated and cow towed under a strict regime, culminating in violence and lost hope.

Subjects: GCSE/A Level Psychology, Biology, Medical History, English literature, English Language.

Age rating: PG 17+ with caution

Why we recommend it: Not for the faint hearted, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest is a mesmerising and tragic story that, although fictional, had a great impact on the psychiatric medical profession in America and globally. After its release there was a backlash against institutionalising those with mental illness and the film is credited as playing an important role in the closure of mental institutions and “caring in the community.” The book and film are harrowing lessons in resisting ‘one size fits all’ solutions, questioning the nature of sanity and in the importance of challenging injustice.

Our rating: Books and Movies star rating


Part 5: Q&A with Schools and Top Movies 2020

Q&A. Questions and answers. Black icon. reached out to the leaders of the school community to discover their views on the role of film in education, letting us know which films, if any, that they believe have had a positive influence on their lives.

We asked school leaders whether, and if so which, films they believe deserve a place in the well-rounded, multi-sensory educational curriculum of our children – and why.


Question 1:Should films be used more in education to bring books to life, develop the whole child and inspire broader learning?”

Answer: “Yes.

At JAS, developing students’ reading skills and love of literature are fundamental components of our core learning and teaching philosophy and vision. As educators, we must also be mindful of the different ways in which text, stories and information reach our young people, and the many challenges and questions that this poses. In a media-rich society, film and motion pictures surround us all (not least our young people), and it is essential that they are able to analyse information, assess its validity, reflect on its accuracy, and be aware of issues of perspective, points of view, bias and prejudice. To that end, ‘media literacy’ should form a vital part of the school curriculum in order to develop students’ broader understanding of texts, equip them for the challenges of modern society and open up new ways for them to consider the world around them.”

Sam Bowen, Primary Assistant Head Teacher, Jebel Ali School


Answer: “Yes.

Films and moving image should definitely be used more in education. I think there is an under appreciation of film and moving image as an art form, and this leads to it being under utilized or misperceived in an educational context. Almost all of our day-to-day lives are underpinned in some respect by moving image, and the ability to decode film is essential in understanding everything from social concerns to political messages to the truth of advertising. Studying a film, or elements of a film, alongside a novel or play can open students’ minds to alternative readings of characters, themes or language, and studying directorial vision provides them with a gateway to exploring writers’ purposes and a better understanding of themselves and their worlds through a more accessible route to writers’ social concerns. It is not always a case of ‘bringing a book to life’ as I don’t think anyone can argue that truly great writing isn’t already brimming with life and electricity; however, as a gateway to a fuller understanding of a text, a more open-minded approach to the nuances of a writer’s craft and the importance of the reader to interpreting a text, film certainly has the capacity to broaden minds and inspire further learning and intrigue.“

Richard Malpass. Senior Teacher for Learning and Teaching – Secondary. Jebel Ali School.


Answer: “No.

I don’t believe films necessarily do any of those things; books ultimately bring books to life and films have their own purpose too.  It could be said, however, that perhaps films help to pique imagination or bring a concrete nature to concepts that are somewhat abstract.

Films don’t develop a whole child, nor do they develop broader learning, but they can be used as a different medium for learning, whether that is cinema photography or something similar but not as a replacement for books. Films certainly have a place as an education tool, but we wouldn’t use them specifically to bring a book to life per se.”

Brett Girven. Principal. The Arbor School.


Answer: “Yes.

At Foremarke, we use high quality films and animations in the classroom to enhance the teaching of reading and writing. These can be used as writing stimuli for extended independent writing sessions, story-starters or as a longer film study. All use of film is carefully linked to the learning objective and current study – for example the use of Wallace and Gromit’s ‘Cracking Contraptions’ for instruction writing and ‘5 metres 80’ by Nicolas Deveaux for newspaper report writing. Films are used in addition to written text therefore children are fully immersed in the genre of study.

At Foremarke, we understand the importance of a wide range of background knowledge and vocabulary across the curriculum. We place Reading across the Curriculum as a school priority. The use of film can be powerful to build a vast background knowledge and vocabulary, which can directly impact the comprehension of texts and high-quality, detailed writing, with a strong storyline. For children to become writers, they require a bank of stories to refer to and adapt – films can be a useful resource for children to innovate the storyline and make them their own.

The use of films in education to bring books to life has great value. For instance, when studying Shakespeare, watching the plays unfold through film gives the story context and brings this to life in a way that inspires children to participate in these types of text. This can also encourage children to further their development of speaking and listening skills by extending their learning through drama and role-play. Becoming a character in a story allows children to gain different perspectives and empathise with characters in a more meaningful way.”

Laura Werner-Brown. Head of English.

Claire Fletcher. Reading Across the Curriculum Coordinator. 

Foremarke School Dubai.


Answer: “Yes.

If a picture paints a thousand words’ then film and moving and photo images have a very important part to play in enhancing and embedding learning, bringing to life some areas of teaching and learning, that might otherwise be harder to get across to children and students. Film shouldn’t replace books or reading, but instead complement pupils’ understanding and knowledge, and help them ‘experience’ their lessons by other means.”

David Cook. Headmaster. Repton School Dubai.


Answer: “Yes.

Children, and people in general, learn in different ways and to use videos and film helps students visualize the books they read. There are many web sites now available that records teachers, authors and celebrities reading books. If a child follows along with the book not only can the video help bring the story to life for the child but they will hear and see words spoken correctly. These examples are a great way to push a child’s vocabulary and dictation skills.

Film can help bring the love of a book to a larger audience but for me I still would take a well-written book over a movie any day. I think a good example with this for children is the Harry Potter series. I remember well taking my own children to the bookstore at midnight to purchase the new book and to sit in the bookstore for hours as the children started to read the book. Reading helps children extend their imagination and develop bonds and emotions with characters in the book. While you can get this watching a movie I don’t believe it goes to the depths that you gain by reading a book.”

Bill Debrugge. Principal. Dunecrest American School.


Answer: “Yes.

Hooks of any kind should always be used in education. Films are a great way to bring characters to life and help children imagine further what could happen if….. To encourage a child to read further film clips can inspire the passion and encourage even the most reluctant reader to engage with text.

Zara Harrington, Principal. Safa British School.


Question 2: Can you give any examples of films that have been used in teaching at your school to bring a subject to life and in which departments? 


“We have used a range of short films, such as ‘Soar’, ‘The Present’ and ‘Ruin’, to develop children’s comprehension skills. ‘Video comprehension’ lessons have been successful in enabling students to explore more complex ideas and make deeper inferences about texts. These are often discussion-based lessons, in which most questions do not lead to definitive answers. These may refer to characters’ feelings or motives, predict future events or explore directorial devices, their intent and impact on the audience.

We have discovered that exploring texts in this way has removed barriers for students with reading difficulties or those who lack reading stamina. This has significantly improved learning outcomes for these groups of students and enabled them to take part in discussions that they ordinarily may feel excluded from.“

Sam Bowen. Assistant Head Teacher – Primary. Jebel Ali School.



“The Secondary English department at JAS frequently uses film as a pedagogical tool, with students comparing depictions of Romeo, Juliet and Mercutio in Baz Luhrmann and Franco Zeffirelli’s interpretations of Romeo and Juliet. Further to this, clips from The Hunger Games, 127 Hours, Saving Private Ryan, Lawrence of Arabia, The Woman in Black, Tuck Everlasting and Polanski and Kurzel’s versions of Macbeth are all used either as stimuli for creative writing or as learning aids for character study and the exploration of theme and authorial intentions in literature.

JAS also organizes extracurricular movie nights where students are able to enjoy a bucket of popcorn in our fantastic auditorium whilst they watch a film based on one of their texts of study in its entirety. “

Richard Malpass. Senior Teacher for Learning and Teaching – Secondary. Jebel Ali School.



“Films are one of a number of tools that we use to bring a subject to life.  There are so many platforms out there such as YouTube, which are all available at the touch of a button, so our teachers and students are regularly finding and sharing interesting links from cartoons and animations to documentaries that can bring subjects to life.

At Arbor in particularly, we keep an eye out for environmental messages, stories of hope and positivity where people have really made a powerful change in our society.”

Brett Girven. Principal. The Arbor School.



“We have used clips of films and performances within the English department at Foremarke School to bring a story to life. We have studied A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and have watched various versions of the same scene to analyse how people can have different interpretations of the same piece of writing. By sharing this with the children they were also able to see more clearly what life was like during the Victorian time period and gained a greater understanding on various characters, such as Tiny Tim.”

“A few of our other favourites at Foremarke would be:

  • Much Better Now– We used this film as a stimulus for World Book Day and the places that stories can take us. Children designed their own bookmarks and took them on great adventures throughout the day (whole school).
  • Road’s End– Character/setting descriptions and retelling stories in the 3rdperson (Year 6 +).
  • Pigeon Impossible– Comic strips, newspaper reports and persuasive arguments -why was it not the pigeon’s fault? (Lower Key Stage 2).
  • Taking Flight– Writing a first-person recount, adventure story writing, retelling a story from a character’s point of view (Key Stage 1).
  • The Lighthouse– Setting description and discussing how the author builds tension (Key Stage 2).”

Laura Werner-Brown. Head of English.

Claire Fletcher. Reading Across the Curriculum Coordinator. 

Foremarke School Dubai.



“English and Drama are perhaps obvious but nonetheless important examples of departments that use film to complement texts or books, from Shakespeare to Atwood for instance. The latter’s recent adaptation of film of the Handmaiden’s Tale was helpful and every year, IGCSE English sets wrestle with the challenges of William Shakespeare.

In addition the history department has utilized extracts from ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘1917’, to allow the pupils to understand the terror and costs of war.”

David Cook. Headmaster. Repton School Dubai.



“In general, we use video clips a great deal with teaching concepts and this can be in any subject. There is a great vast of knowledge in educational videos through Khan Academy, as an example, where students can visually see a concept come to life. It would be rare that we watch a movie from beginning to end during classes. Normally we just don’t have the time to watch an entire movie and if we do use movie clips it would be short segments to build on a concept the teacher is teaching.”

Bill Debrugge. Principal. Dunecrest American School.



“We use many films depending on what the children are learning. Most recently Year 6 have been looking at emotive language and used the film short Piano as the stimulus.

This particular film short is a favourite of mine as it shows the whole life including loss the character goes through and the writing from this for each child is always exceptional. 

Zara Harrington, Principal. Safa British School.


Question 3: Can you list one or more films that made an impact on you, you think all children should see to inspire their understanding of a subject and/or their love of learning and/or their broader whole child emotional and personal development – and why?


“It’s difficult to go wrong with Pixar. Whether it’s Woody’s friendship in ‘Toy Story’, Ellie’s dream in ‘Up’ or Marlin’s tenacity in ‘Finding Nemo’, the Pixar animated films promote important personal, social and emotional messages for children of all ages.

However, I think Roald Dahl has made the greatest contribution to children’s love of literature. His wicked imagination and often-borderline sense of humour and uncanny ability to stretch stories beyond the realms of normality have been an enormous inspiration for me as a child and as a teacher. The animated versions of his stories are equally compelling and are able to transport you into universes that you would have never imagined possible, yet seem entirely plausible! Dahl’s fascination for the morbid, unpleasant and grotesque, such as Ms. Trunchbull, Veruca Salt and The Twits, have inspired more reluctant learners to engage and connect with stories – and this is one of the biggest challenges that we face as teachers.”

Sam Bowen. Assistant Head Teacher – Primary. Jebel Ali School.



“For a film that is appropriate and resonant across the span of the age ranges, the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’ is superb. On top of having a funny and compelling story, it gives students a valuable insight into the difficulties of change, the complexities involved in emotional regulation and, crucially, it teaches them a vital lesson about their well-being: that it is okay not to be okay and that sadness and setbacks can be overcome if they are confronted rather than suppressed and ignored. The film will bring students to a better understanding of themselves, the way they learn and the way their memory works.

For older students of 15+, Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a film that made a lasting impression on me as a younger man. Aiding students with their emotional and personal development, it deals with complex issues such as regret, revenge and the tension between justice and the law, balancing them against the importance of friendship, the power of hope and the ability for goodness to shine even in the darkest of places.

The film is also beautifully written and directed, eminently quotable and, ultimately, despite its shades of darkness, an uplifting, powerful watch.

Lastly, for a look at the trans-formative power of education and the importance of learning, either ‘Freedom Writers’ (rated 12), which details the real life story of inspirational teacher Erin Gruwell who changed the lives of several generations of socially deprived, ‘at risk’ students, ‘The Dead Poet’s Society’ (rated PG), or, for students of 15+, Good Will Hunting, both of which examine the ways that learning can change lives for the betters.”

Richard Malpass. Senior Teacher for Learning and Teaching – Secondary. Jebel Ali School.



“For me personally when I was growing up, once a week on a Saturday evening, our whole family would sit down together and watch a nature programme called Our World.  We would marvel at the incredible things that were happening in the world that we couldn’t see, and that’s because back in those days we had vastly reduced access to that information.

One film that I would say had an effect on me and changed me personally, which I still remember vividly going to see it at the cinema, was Gorillas In The Mist.

It’s an extremely emotional film full of very powerful messages, so I would only recommend it for a child who can understand the consequences and who can deal with the emotional roller-coaster, around school year 7 or so – where you can have a clear discussion about the impacts of that film.”

Brett Girven. Principal. The Arbor School.



“The Pixar short film Boundin for Key Stage 1 and 2 is an excellent discussion starter for emotional and personal development.

This animation focuses on appreciating other people’s differences, bouncing back when things don’t quite go our way and staying positive in difficult times.”

Laura Werner-Brown. Head of English.

Claire Fletcher. Reading Across the Curriculum Coordinator. 

Foremarke School Dubai.



“As long as it is age appropriate, Oliver Stone’s trilogy on the Vietnam War: ‘JFK’, ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ and ‘Platoon’ provide a vivid and powerful portrait of that conflict, and the human costs of war, long after the war has finished.

They are also good examples for students to understand that they themselves aren’t definitive history, rather they represent the director’s views of history.”

David Cook. Headmaster. Repton School Dubai.



“I remember reading the book, The Fault In Our Stars, and I thought it was amazing.

The book teaches us we are all important in our own way and that we need to live and enjoy the current time in our lives and not always live for what the future may bring because there being a future is not a certainty.

After a movie was made based on the book I was not sure I wanted to see it because I enjoyed the book so much and it would have bothered me if the movie deviated from the story line of the book.

I will have to admit, however, that they did a super job with the movie and I was inspired with how the producers told such a powerful story through film.

This movie and book is more age appropriate for a mature audience. The reality of death and cancer is a major factor of the plot.”

Bill Debrugge. Principal. Dunecrest American School.



Film clips must be short and relevant to capture the child’s imagination. For example, Wonder is a great film for many different reasons, it covers exclusion, difference, bullying, family, grief and yet is appealing for children to watch.

Most recently Year 5 at SBS have been looking at the different characters and how they feel emotionally. This is a great way for individual children to reflect on their own circumstances.

Films are versatile so can appeal to a wide age range. At Safa British School we map the books and films to be used in each year group to ensure children are exposed to many films that are always appropriate to each age group.

Zara Harrington, Principal. Safa British School.


Bottom line? The View of Movies in Education 2020

We think that some schools are missing a trick and should be using films more as they pull together distance learning programmes for children and the parents that manage learning during lockdown. There are also strong arguments for using film much more in schools. Our recommendation for the best film to start is An Inspector Calls. It is one of the rarer examples of a film adaptation in our list of Best Films that works as well as a film as it does as a book. This is probably in no small part because it is a play rather than a novel. As a play, it is also a very short one – most good readers should  be able to tackle this from the age of 11. We suggest reading the play first. You will find that many children at younger ages will believe the Inspector to be a time traveller or something equivalent – and this can be a springboard to talking about religion and values. This is a film that can be seen as an alternative telling of It’s a Wonderful Life – it uses the same fundamental idea that all our actions have impacts. Few would argue that It’s a Wonderful Life is an extraordinary tour de force and would probably appear on many desert island movie lists for young and old. An Inspector Calls also opens up doors to discussion of class and social history.

Film has historically in education been seen as something of a second cousin to reading. There has been a lot of snobbery around it too, ironically because it is so successful and immediate. It works. But because it is seen as too easy, it has historically been discounted on spurious grounds that only learning that is “hard” or difficult has value. Blending film and books is, however, extraordinarily powerful. As we made the point above – no books get close to what Sir Attenborough achieves in his nature films. Instead, books can be used with these films to deal with the abstract thinking that underpins nature. The links children make between the two brings learning to life.

For parents struggling, reading and films, used together, offer a powerhouse means to connect with a child’s learning and engage their imagination, critical thinking and understanding. Nothing in what we all face will replace our schools and teachers. When it is safe we need our schools to re-open.

But, until then, if this Guide achieves no more than enabling one family to kick start their child’s reading and love of learning it will have achieved something priceless.

This guide highlights some absolutely beautiful films and books. There is an ocean filled with life, love and everything in between to be found here. Hope, caring, dreams, ambition, imagination and …… just a little dread to keep us all on our toes …..

Doesn’t it just make you want to ….. jump in?!

(c) 2020. All right reserved.


About The Author
Jane Talbot
Special Projects Reporter on, Jane Talbot is a renowned features journalist and researcher recognised for her in-depth and inciteful documentation of key issues facing parents in education worldwide. She brings to more than two decade’s experience in journalism and an authentic, deeply compassionate commitment to writing that places the welfare of children and families centre stage. “I write to support families facing the hardest decisions in education – whether that is the first day at school or navigating challenges like dyslexia. I see journalism as a vocation that promises, little by little, to change the world for the better. SchoolsCompared gives me the chance to play my part, for parents and children, in that bigger picture.”

Leave a Reply