Movies are a great way to teach lessons to middle and high schoolers without having to even speak. Many learners are visual, so a film is a great idea to introduce topics and set the tone. Finding movies that are age-appropriate is difficult, but here are some that are interesting enough yet not too heavy for learners.
The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech is an exceptional look into the history that goes into great events of WWI. In the movie, King George VI is played by Colin Firth. The King had a stutter which at the time was not a well-known speech impediment. Because of this, an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue is hired by the Royal Family to help the King with speeches. When George’s brother stepped down from the throne, he had to deliver a monumental speech announcing Britain’s next moves. The speech delivered by a radio broadcast, in which the beginning of WWII is announced. There’s a little explicit language but it shows the crucial beginnings of WWI.
The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game is a historical drama that stars Benedict Cumberbatch, a popular actor thanks to his role in Marvel films. In it, he plays Alan Turing who is a Cambridge graduate in mathematics. Alan was hired by the intelligence agency MI6 to decode Nazi signals. Enigma messages which are what the unbreakable Nazi codes were called, needed to be deciphered to win the destructive war. The team in MI6 was also tasked to build a machine to decode the messages as well, and once they succeeded, they became war heroes. It is a great look into history without going straight to the typical battlefield approach.
The Little Traitor
The Little Traitor is a coming-of-age movie all about a little Jewish boy called Proffy who lived in Israel before it became a recognized territory. Israelites at the time were fighting for the British soldiers to leave Israel and to be granted freedom. Proffy believed this was right as well, but his feelings are slowly changed when he meets a young British soldier. The story focuses on Proffy rather than being a boring overview of history. It has themes about friendship as well, so it is more relevant for teens and tweens.
The Kite Runner
This is a great movie, as it is based on a New York Times Bestseller. It is a great way to grab the attention of learners and get them interested in historical literature as well. During a kite running competition in Kabul, Afghanistan, Amir betrays his friend Hassan. The differences as Amir is much wealthier. It is a great way to show class differences and how they affect life in Afghanistan. Amir spends decades trying to make something of himself, but it also explores growing up and redemption which are great lessons to learn.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Oscar is a nine-year old with Asperger’s and also happens to be extremely talented. Along with dealing with his syndrome, Oscar must also deal with his father’s passing as his father was a victim of 9/11. One day he finds a key that his father left for him and begins an adventure across New York to find what it unlocks. It explores loss and involves history 9/11 which is known as one of the worst attacks ever.