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10 Kid Movies That Aren't 'Frozen' With Strong Female Leads

The Gabby Douglas Story
Photograph by Allen Fraser

Kid movies, in general, annoy me. I know I shouldn’t be admitting this, since I’m a fairly new mother and have a good two decades of kid-movie watching ahead of me. But there's one thing about kids' movies that I find really intolerable.

See, I’m a girl-mom raising a girl, and we are in a world in which women constantly have to fight to be heard, trusted and taken seriously. Sure, we’ve come a long way and all that, but I think that it’s important that our little boys and girls see strong girls and women. I like to think that I lead a good strong example for my kids, but, hey, I’m not going to always have their eyes. Why shouldn’t we show our children that women, even on the screen, can be strong, dynamic and hold leadership positions?

Not every movie fails in this arena, but there are few enough to name. We should all watch these with our kids, girls and boys Here are 10 that not only tell great stories, but center around bad-ass women and girls doing amazing things.

1. Home

This movie is my favorite of the bunch, because the lead character plays no games when it comes to looking for her mother. She’s bossy, she’s direct, she’s not afraid to kick an alien butt or two. And? She’s also loving and caring. Plus, I love that she has a head full of curly hair.

“She’s got hair like meeeee!” my daughter loves shouting out. She sure does, baby. She sure does.

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2. Lilo & Stitch

Yes, it’s an oldie, but it’s a goodie for a reason. Lilo was a pint-sized cutie who was being raised by her no-nonsense big sister. Both girls were just as sweet as they could be, but they also didn’t take kindly to being judged and underestimated. If Lilo was a real person, I would so want her to be friends with my kids.

3. The Hunger Games

This one is more appropriate for the big kids, and "The Hunger Games" franchise doesn’t come without controversy. But what it does come with is Katniss Everdeen. I’m a 31-year-old who considers that girl to be one of my heroes.

Gymnast lover or not, you can’t deny how cool it is to see a real life gymnast go from not having much to being an Olympic star.

4. Brave

Well, we knew Merida was going to be about her business when we saw her gorgeous head of red curls. Thought the movie, she’s defeating, battling, saving and running all while wearing a dress and keeping the frizz at bay. Cartoon or not, that’s pretty impressive. Beyond the hair, she was her own hero, which also makes her our hero.

5. Matilda

It’s such an old movie, but it was one of my favorites growing up, because it shows that you don’t have to have had a perfect life to have a beautiful ending. Poor Matilda went through years and years of feeling unloved but always managed to keep a smile on her adorable face, smile that told the audience she was not one for giving up. That babe had more endurance in her pinky finger than I have now.

6. The Gabby Douglas Story

This one is currently my daughter’s favorite movie. Gymnast lover or not, you can’t deny how cool it is to see a real life gymnast go from not having much to being an Olympic star. My daughter is Gabby’s biggest fan, and I will gladly put this movie on repeat, especially if it means she'll get inspired by Gabby’s perserverance.

I was thrilled when this movie came out, because it gave light to all of the girls in the world who had big hair, wore braces and needed glasses.

7. Annie

I can’t lie to you: I find musicals so irritating. But if you can stand them, the many versions of this movie have a sassy “get it done” girl lead. It’s another tale of “life can get better,” and I just love seeing these cute girls bouncing all over the place, singing and carrying on.

8. Akeelah and the Bee

Stand up and be heard! Ideal for older girls, I find this movie incredibly inspirational for everyone—especially for girls of color who find that they don’t fit in many of the sports or activities that they may want to participate in or may have been overlooked academically. I’ve felt like Akeelah a thousand times but, like her, I also haven’t given up. What a great story.

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9. The Princess Diaries

Where are my moms of tweens and teeangers? Any moms of geeky girlies? I was thrilled when this movie came out, because it gave light to all of the girls in the world who had big hair, wore braces and needed glasses. They weren’t popular and, even after going through a transformation, they never lose what makes them unique.

10. Zootopia

This movie just screams girl power, and I loved how excited my daughter was watching Judy make her dreams come true. No baby, mama isn’t crying. My eyes are sweating.

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