The "Dinosaur Phase" strikes many children, especially boys, between two to eight years of age. Young kids find dinosaurs absolutely fascinating because their immense size, their otherworldly appearance, and the mind-blowing fact that-- unlike dragons and giants-- they actually existed on the very same Earth we call home. My own daughter, a delightful three year old, is positively obsessed with dinosaurs. She can tell the difference between chasmosaurus, torosaurus, triceratops and styracosaurus, which are identical to my eye. And, of course, she will pass many an hour absorbed in watching dinosaur movies.
Dinosaur movies are as much a part of my daughter's life as dinosaur books and little plastic toys. I think that certain dinosaur-themed kids' films belong in the DVD library of any home with young children, especially if those kids happen to be fixated on dinosaurs. Here are a few of my daughter's favorite dinosaur-themed kids' movies.
The Land Before Time
"The Land Before Time" is a breathtaking classic that even kids who aren't dino-obsessed will enjoy. This movie, which is as visually stunning as it is emotionally riveting, has an easy-to-follow plot that kids as young as 3 can comprehend. Although it can be upsetting due to the death of the protagonist's mother, it is cartoonish enough that it is not likely to trigger nightmares or panic.
This silly movie from the 1980s is fun and completely unrealistic-- so it's perfect for kids who love dinosaurs and enjoy a good dose of nonsense. For children with a more scientific focus on dinosaurs, it may be off-putting, but it's a good, family-friendly, non-scary option for children who enjoy the funny and the absurd.
When I was a kid, I remember rewinding our Fantasia cassette repeatedly so that I could watch the "Rite of Spring" scene again and again. In this Disney classic, jarring, primitive orchestral music plays while animation shows the process of Earth's creation all the way through to the extinction of the dinosaurs. More than any other movie for kids who like dinosaurs, this one brings the world of the dinosaur to life in a believable, but still child-friendly, manner.
Walking with Dinosaurs
A visually impressive and scientifically accurate documentary series, "Walking with Dinosaurs" uses computer-generated imagery to realistically uncover a world dominated by gigantic reptiles. My daughter isn't yet mature enough to handle the scariness of its hyper-realistic scenes, but it's a perfect movie for kids who love dinosaurs and are old enough to find realism compelling and enjoyable.
Thanks to Jurassic Park, my entire generation was haunted by nightmares of children chased by Tyrannosaurus-- and, if I could go back, I would have chosen not to watch it at the tender age of six. For this reason, I don't plan to let my own daughter watch it until she is at least eight years old and emotionally mature enough to handle it. However, I highly recommend this film for older children who love dinosaurs, since it introduces a complex plot that bright, mature children will find thrilling.
The film industry has released dozens of beautiful, enjoyable, and alluring movies that appeal to the interests of kids who love dinosaurs. If your child is interested in prehistoric life, consider expanding your film collection to include these wonderful examples of dinosaur-themed kids' movies.