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20 Animations Movies for Kids: Fun Family Films

Let’s talk animated films for a minute. Way back in the day when I was a young girl animated films were, well, unrealistic. Today, though, they are so realistic it’s crazy! These movies are a form of entertainment that usually have colorful visuals, engaging storylines, and memorable characters. These films often share valuable life lessons lessons and moral values in an entertaining way. Whether it’s classic fairy tales, modern adventures, or heartwarming tales of friendship, animated films have a special place in the hearts of younger viewers and adults. Let’s talk about some history behind these movies first. 

20 of the best animations movies for kids

Don’t miss more Toy, book and product reviews here too!

Evolution of Animation Movies for Kids

Early Beginnings

The history of animation movies dates back to the early 1900s, with the release of Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914, which was one of the first animated films. In 1928, the world was introduced to Steamboat Willie, featuring the well known character Mickey Mouse, created by Walt Disney. This short film marked a key turning point for animation, with its synchronized sound and visual storytelling.

Technological Advances

As the animation industry progressed, several technological innovations paved the way for animation movies for kids. For example:

  • In 1937, the first-ever full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released
  • In the 1960s, traditional hand-drawn animation began to give way to computer-generated imagery (CGI) 
  • In 1995, Toy Story was introduced as the first fully computer-animated feature film

Rise of 3D Animation

The early 2000s saw the rise of 3D animation movies for kids, with the release of Shrek in 2001 and then with The Incredibles and Kung Fu Panda. This not only made children happy but adults too. 

Notable Animation Studios

Disney and Pixar

Disney and Pixar have been considered major players in the animation industry. After all, when you think of Disney movies most people think of Mickey Mouse, the iconic figure and beginning of animation movies. Disney, founded in 1923, introduced the world to beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse and Snow White. Meanwhile, Pixar revolutionized the industry by producing the first feature-length computer-animated film, Toy Story, in 1995. Disney later acquired Pixar in 2006.

  • Key Disney films: The Lion KingFrozen
  • Key Pixar films: Finding NemoWALL-E

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation, established in 1994, quickly rose to prominence with their initial smash hit, Antz (1998). Since then, they have produced numerous successful franchises, such as ShrekKung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon. DreamWorks Animation was acquired by NBCUniversal in 2016, but they still retain their distinct style and storytelling techniques.

  • Successful franchises: MadagascarTrolls

Illumination Entertainment

A relatively new studio in the animation scene, Illumination Entertainment was founded in 2007 and quickly gained traction with the release of Despicable Me (2010). They are best known for their quirky characters and distinctive humor. Their adorable, yellow Minions have become an instantly recognizable staple of the studio.

Animation Techniques

Traditional Animation

Traditional animation, also known as hand-drawn or cel animation, is a technique that involves creating individual drawings for each frame of a film. These drawings are often done on transparent celluloid sheets, called cels, which are then placed on top of background drawings and photographed to produce the final film.

Some popular traditional animation movies for kids include:

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • The Lion King (1994)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Storyboarding: Artists create a series of images to outline the story.

The process of traditional animation involves the following steps:

  1. Layouts: Backgrounds and settings for each scene are designed.
  2. Keyframes: Main poses for characters and objects are sketched.
  3. In betweens: Additional drawings are created to fill in the movements between keyframes.
  4. Clean-up: Refining the drawings and adding details.
  5. Inking and Painting: Creating the final, colored images, often on cels.
  6. Compositing and Photography: Combining the different elements and taking photographs of each frame.

Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI)

Computer-Generated Imagery, or CGI, has become a dominant technique in animated movies for kids since the 1990s. This approach involves creating characters, objects, and environments using 3D computer graphics software. The final images are then rendered and composited into a 2D image or sequence.

Notable CGI movies for kids include:

  • Toy Story (1995)
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • Frozen (2013)

CGI animation generally follows these steps:

  1. Pre-visualization: Creating a rough, computer-generated storyboard.
  2. Modeling: Designing and building 3D characters and objects with the software.
  3. Texturing: Applying colors, patterns, and other surface details to the models.
  4. Rigging: Adding an internal structure or skeleton to characters for movement.
  5. Animation: Defining the movement and performance of characters and objects.
  6. Lighting: Simulating virtual light sources.
  7. Rendering: Calculating how all elements and effects appear in the final image.
  8. Compositing: Combining rendered images with backgrounds and other elements.

20 of the Best Animated Movies of all Time for Kids

Now to the real reason you are probably here; the list of the best animations movies for kids. Let me share some classics along with some modern films that are good enough for an academy award. All of these movies are a great family film for movie night, not to mention some of my favorite characters ever. 

  1. Peter Pan–  “Peter Pan” is a classic animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1953. The movie is based on the play and novel by J.M. Barrie and follows the magical adventures of Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, and the Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, as they journey to the enchanting world of Neverland.
  2. Beauty and the Beast– “Beauty and the Beast” is a timeless animated film released by Disney in 1991. It tells the enchanting story of Belle, a kind and intelligent young woman who becomes the prisoner of a mean Beast in his enchanted castle. As Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to see beyond the Beast’s exterior, a beautiful and heartwarming tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds.
  3. The Little Mermaid– “The Little Mermaid” is a beloved animated Disney film produced and released in 1989. The story follows Ariel, a young and adventurous mermaid princess who dreams of experiencing life on land. When she falls in love with a human prince, Ariel makes a fateful deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human in exchange for her voice.
  4. The Lion King– “The Lion King” is a beloved animated film produced by Disney and released in 1994. The story follows Simba, a young lion prince who must navigate the challenges of growing up and ultimately reclaim his rightful place as the king of the Pride Lands. After the tragic loss of his father, Mufasa, Simba embarks on a journey of self-discovery with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa, as well as his love interest, Nala.
  5. Toy Story– “Toy Story” is a groundbreaking animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney in 1995. The movie takes audiences on a delightful adventure into the secret world of toys, focusing on the relationship between a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody and a state-of-the-art space ranger action figure named Buzz Lightyear.  When Buzz enters the picture and becomes the new favorite toy by his young boy owner, Woody experiences a mix of jealousy and a desire to protect his position as the top toy. 
  6. Monster Inc.– “Monsters, Inc.” is a heartwarming animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney in 2001. The story is set in the city of Monstropolis, where monsters generate energy by scaring human children. The film follows the adventures of two best friends and top scarers, Sulley, a big-hearted blue monster, and his wisecracking green sidekick, Mike Wazowski. Their lives take an unexpected turn when a human child, Boo, enters the monster world, leading to a series of comical and touching escapades.
  7. Shrek- “Shrek” is a popular animated film released by DreamWorks Animation in 2001. The story follows the titular character, Shrek, an ogre who embarks on a comical and unconventional quest to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. Along the way, Shrek is accompanied by his talkative and loyal companion, Donkey, and the adventure leads to unexpected twists and turns that challenge traditional fairy tale conventions. In 2002 it won “Best Animated Feature” award. 
  8. The Nightmare Before Christmas-  “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a beloved stop-motion animated film released in 1993, directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton. The story follows Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who becomes bored with the annual routine of scaring people in the real world. After stumbling upon Christmas Town, Jack becomes fascinated by the holiday and decides to take over Christmas, leading to a series of misadventures as he tries to put his own spin on the holiday.
  9. The Incredibles-  “The Incredibles” is a popular animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney in 2004. The movie follows the Parr family, who live undercover as a suburban family while secretly using their superpowers to fight crime. The story centers on Mr. Incredible, his wife Elastigirl, and their children Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack as they navigate the challenges of balancing their extraordinary abilities with the demands of everyday life.
  10. Cars– “Cars” is a popular animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney in 2006. The movie is set in a world populated by older, classic vehicles and follows the journey of Lightning McQueen, a hotshot rookie race car who finds himself stranded in the small town of Radiator Springs. Through his interactions with the town’s quirky residents, including the charming Porsche Sally and the wise tow truck Mater, Lightning learns valuable lessons about friendship, humility, and the true meaning of success.
  11. Despicable Me– “Despicable Me” is a popular animated film released in 2010, produced by Illumination Entertainment. The story revolves around Gru, a supervillain with a heart of gold, who hatches a plan to steal the moon. Along the way, Gru adopts three orphaned girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, and his relationship with them leads to unexpected changes in his life and outlook.
  12. Frozen – “Frozen” is a popular animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released in 2013. The story follows two royal sisters, Elsa and Anna, in the kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa, who possesses magical ice powers, inadvertently plunges the kingdom into eternal winter, prompting her to flee and isolate herself. Anna embarks on a quest to find her sister and save their kingdom, accompanied by an iceman named Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and a comical snowman named Olaf.
  13. Cinderella– “Cinderella” is a timeless animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1950. The movie tells the classic fairy tale of a kind-hearted young woman named Cinderella, who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters but ultimately finds her happily ever after with the help of her Fairy Godmother. With the aid of her animal friends and a magical transformation, Cinderella attends the royal ball and captures the heart of the prince.
  14. Aladdin– “Aladdin” is a beloved animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released in 1992. The movie is a vibrant retelling of the classic Middle Eastern folk tale from “One Thousand and One Nights.” The story follows the charming street urchin Aladdin, who embarks on a magical adventure after discovering a magical lamp containing a genie. With the help of the genie, Aladdin transforms into a prince and seeks to win the heart of Princess Jasmine while thwarting the sinister plans of the villainous Jafar.
  15. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island–  “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island” is an animated film released in 1998, featuring the beloved Mystery Inc. gang. The story follows Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred as they reunite to investigate a mysterious island haunted by zombies. The gang encounters genuine supernatural occurrences, marking a departure from the usual unmasking of human villains in previous Scooby-Doo adventures.
  16. The Peanuts Movie – “The Peanuts Movie” is a heartwarming animated film released in 2015, based on the beloved “Peanuts” comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz. The movie follows the endearing and timeless characters, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the gang, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
  17. Fantastic Mr. Fox– “Fantastic Mr Fox” is a delightful stop-motion animated film released in 2009, based on the beloved children’s novel by Roald Dahl. The movie follows the charismatic Mr. Fox, a cunning and clever fox who leads a double life as a loving family man and a notorious chicken thief. When Mr. Fox’s thieving ways threaten the safety of his family and friends, he must outsmart the three meanest farmers in the region to save the day.
  18. Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs- “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a timeless animated film released by Walt Disney Productions in 1937. The movie is a classic retelling of the German fairy tale, featuring the beautiful and kind-hearted Snow White, who flees from her wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen, and finds refuge with the seven lovable dwarfs in their cottage in the forest.
  19. The Land Before Time– “The Land Before Time” is a beloved animated film released in 1988, directed by Don Bluth and produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The movie follows a group of young dinosaurs, including Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike, as they embark on a perilous journey to find new life in the Great Valley, a lush and bountiful land that promises safety and abundance.
  20. Bugs Bunny and the RoadRunner Movie– The “Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie” is a 1979 animated film that combines classic Looney Tunes shorts featuring Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner with new linking sequences. The movie includes beloved cartoon segments such as “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “Rabbit of Seville” featuring Bugs Bunny, as well as Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote’s classic high-speed chases. This movie is probably best suited for younger kids.

I hope we’ve shared a list of classics and modern Animated films that everyone needs to see. Remember, a great movie doesn’t necessarily have to have the latest animated technology. Some of the older classics have the best storylines.