18 Animated Movies That Practically Raised Your Kids

While animated movies might not be typical favorites when it comes to critical acclaim, these films are nevertheless impactful, often charming children with enchanting tales and fantasies. Here are 18 animated movies that have practically raised kids through several generations:

Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio (1940) - Walt Disney
Photo Credit: Walt Disney.

Disney’s second animated feature, Pinocchio, was a groundbreaking film for its time. While it focuses on a doll’s journey to become human, it also has grim and dark elements, making it one of Disney’s gloomiest and darkest animated films.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a charming Studio Ghibli film about a young witch coming of age in a new town. It follows Kiki making friends, and hanging out with her wisecracking cat, while learning to be independent. It’s family-friendly and heartwarming, with Kiki’s adventures sure to make even the most cynical viewer smile.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Little Mermaid - Walt Disney Studios
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

The Little Mermaid was a beloved children’s classic, making Ariel a popular Disney princess with her friends Flounder and Sebastian. The timeless story revolves around her dream of becoming human after saving a prince. This movie was a hit, as it appealed to almost every little girl at the time.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli.

This movie follows the lives of the Kusakabe family as they move to a rural area to be closer to their sick mother. Their connection to nature is represented by the friendly forest trolls. Critics and fans have agreed that My Neighbor Totoro is one of the best and most famous works of Hayao Miyazaki.

All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)

Photo Credit: MGM.

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a classic, brilliant, and enchanting animated film from the great director Don Bluth, who also directed The Secret of Nimh. This is one of the most interesting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animated films. It made a lot of children and their parents cry at the end.

An American Tail (1986)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

An American Tail stands out among animated features, breaking away from Disney’s formulaic approach. It tells a unique, artistically rich, and original story, setting it apart as one of the best animated films ever made. It follows Fievel, a young Russian mouse who gets separated from his family on their way to America.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol charmingly adapts Dickens’s 1843 tale and executes a delightful twist on the classic story. The movie was very successful, quickly becoming a favorite of ’80s kids during the holiday season.

Swan Lake (1981)

Photo Credit: Toei Animation.

Swan Lake is an anime tale based on Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s original ballet. It’s one of the most beautiful anime movies ever made, presenting a beautiful depiction of “true love.” The music, also by Tchaikovsky, perfectly complements the film.

The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King (1994) - Disney Enterprises
Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises.

The Lion King is a hallmark of Disney’s ’90s renaissance, telling the tale of Simba, a young lion facing his father’s death and his destiny. It blends deep themes with humor, stunning visuals, and memorable songs, showcasing animation’s greatness.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Productions.

The Fox and the Hound is a beloved children’s movie adapted from a 1967 novel by Daniel P. Mannix. Although it’s often underrated, I personally believe this is one of Disney’s finest motion pictures. Notably, it differs quite a bit from the darker original, as Disney’s version is more child-friendly, toning down the book’s tragic and somber elements.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Walt Disney
Photo Credit: Walt Disney.

While Tim Burton’s name is linked to it, The Nightmare Before Christmas is mainly the creation of animation expert Henry Selick. This 30-year-old film blends enchanting stop-motion animation with a memorable Danny Elfman-led soundtrack, making it a true animation classic.

Spirited Away (2001)

Photo Credit: Studio Ghibli.

Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary Studio Ghibli creator, crafted numerous critically acclaimed anime films. Spirited Away stands out as one of his finest, widely appreciated for its blend of heart-wrenching and whimsical elements. It was famously the first anime feature to win the Best Animated Picture award in 2003.

Shrek (2001)

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

Shrek isn’t just a great animated film; it played a vital role in building the DreamWorks animation studio. It follows the adventures of Shrek and Donkey as they rescue a princess. It became an instant classic thanks to its top-notch animation, voice acting, and humor for all ages.

The Toy Story series (1995-2019)

Toy Story (1995) - Disney _ Pixar
Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar.

The Toy Story series, from its 1995 debut to the latest in 2019, has consistently set a high standard in animated storytelling. It follows toys Woody and Buzz supporting their owner Andy, while navigating the outside world. These films have enjoyed sustained success over the years, making them a nostalgic and must-rewatch collection.

The Incredibles (2004)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

The Incredibles stands out in Pixar’s impressive lineup. It offers action, humor, and meaningful themes about middle age, suburban life, and family, making it a top choice for animation enthusiasts.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo (2003) - Disney _ Pixar
Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Pixar Animation Studios has a knack for making thoughtful, intelligent, and humorous family films. Finding Nemo is a wonderfully animated adventure movie that’s simply irresistible for everyone, young and old. It’s a must-see family film.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How To Train Your Dragon (2010) - _ DreamWorks Animation
Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

How to Train Your Dragon was a surprise hit from DreamWorks studio, and it went on to become a massive franchise. It’s more lighthearted than some top-rated animated movies and sends the valuable message of standing up for what’s right in the face of adversity.

Mulan (1998)

Mulan (1998) - Walt Disney
Photo Credit: Walt Disney.

Mulan shares Disney’s classic elements, like a great voice cast, catchy songs, and a compelling story. However, it stands out among Disney princess films. Unlike prior Disney princesses, Mulan doesn’t rely on a prince to fulfill her dreams. Despite now being 25 years since its release, it continues to empower viewers of all ages.