Prescription for Cold Weather Sick Days

We’re getting to the time of year where kids get sick and have to stay home from school feeling yucky. Here is my cinematic recipe for health and comfort. Don’t forget the chicken soup.

Little Kids:

Annie, Oliver, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music.

Why: Kids love movies starring kids. These are not too scary for the little guys. They won’t understand about the Nazis in TSOM. The bonus for parents is the great music! Songs you can sing together forever! They will hear the songs and always remember snuggling up with you and watching those movies when they felt so rotten.

A Bit Older, past the nightmare stage:

The Wizard of Oz, for my money, is the greatest movie of all time. Everything you need to know about life can be learned from this movie. No matter how many times I watch it, I still get anxious over whether Dorothy will be okay. It IS a little bit scary – has there ever been a better witch than Margaret Hamilton? — so make sure your kids are at the age of reason where they understand it’s just a story.

The Borrowers: a good movie, but a truly great series of books.

Home Alone: my older son thought it was “too touching” but most people enjoy the humor.

Older Kids:

Stand By Me, Breaking Away, The Miracle Worker, Charlie, My Bodyguard

I like movies that teach kids a lesson while still being enjoyable and thrilling. I would suggest warning the kids in advance about the leeches in Stand By Me. I learned this the hard way.


The American musical is something for the whole family to enjoy! You planted the seed with Annie, etc. Now it’s time for the big leagues.

South Pacific: humorous, lively, plus a good lesson about bigotry. Great songs, of course.

My Fair Lady: a glimpse into a different world. Great performances and great songs. Where else can you hear “grammarian” rhymed with “Hungarian”?

West Side Story: Very cool story based on, of course, Romeo and Juliet. Another good lesson about bigotry and prejudice. Plus, GREAT songs.

Fiddler on the Roof: hilarious, poignant, touching, sad, and yes, truly great songs.

Newsies: Marvel at the young Christian Bale, a cute story and good songs,


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Hilarious classic. May give kids ideas on how to skip school, but worth it.

Risky Business: Everyone thinks this has an explicit sex scene, but it doesn’t! The scene on the train is so well done and so evocative that it gives the impression of explicity. It’s also a very funny movie.  Some favorite scenes: “Who’s the U-boat commander?” Also, “Never ever f*** with another man’s livelihood.” Yes, there is some cursing in this movie, but most teens have already heard these words (probably from you!).

Philadelphia: Unbelievable performances by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Important lesson about tolerance and love. It made my teenager cry (always a good thing). The only thing I didn’t like about this movie was the 2-note song by Bruce Springsteen, which won an Oscar even though it sucked.

All Mine to Give: a tear-jerker from the 1950s. Corny but moving.

The Stratton Story: Jimmy Stewart, June Allyson and baseball – what could be better?

Can’t Buy Me Love: Have you ever seen Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey in his previous incarnation as a nerdy teen actor? It is very difficult to believe it’s the same person. He’s in a number of movies where he is just adorable and full of teen angst in a humorous way. Also try Coupe de Ville.

Forrest Gump: One of the greatest movies of all time. Every time I watch it, I see something new.

A League of Their Own: Right up there with Forrest Gump. If I am surfing around the channels and this is on, I am unable to resist watching it – every single time. Great movie for teen girls.

Back to the Future (all three of them): BTTF is a religion in my family. A rich, imaginative story that stays with you. Great cameo by Huey Lewis and the News.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop now. I have always loved watching movies on TV with my kids, whether they are sick or well. We use movie quotes in everyday conversation (“RE-fund? RE-fund?”) and the common experience of falling in love with a movie is a great way to bond. I believe it is a parent’s duty to introduce their children to these entertaining and valuable slices of life. It’s a wonderful way to keep your sniffly, sneezy kids amused and occupied while they are recuperating, and can be fun for you, too (definitely beats endless games of Candyland).  Happy viewing!



13 thoughts on “Prescription for Cold Weather Sick Days

    1. My daughter-in-law’s favorite movie! I’m not sure why it wasn’t on my family’s radar screen (or TV screen) in the 80s. I LOOOOVE Sean Astin (should have put “Rudy” on the above list).


      1. Also, the list above is by no means complete. I have been thinking of additions since I posted it! Keep the suggestions coming, folks!


  1. I love this list! My step father spent a large part of my teen years exposing me to great movies: How Green was my Valley, Captain Courageous, Cinema Paradiso. My love of movies is all because of him. I remember seeing Annie in the theater and loving it. We had the record (!) soundtrack and played it to death.


    1. See — that common love of movies is so bonding and such a nice cozy memory, isn’t it?

      We had the 8-track tape of “Fiddler” and played it all the way to Florida and back in 1968. I know every freaking word of every song, plus the dialogue that was on the soundtrack (“One kopek? Last week you gave me 2 kopeks!” “I had a bad week.” “So, if you had a bad week, why should I suffer?”). But I still love it.


    1. Exactly, although “Oklahoma” tests that theory somewhat. Love the songs but the plot is scary and the extended dance sequence kept it off this list.


  2. Randi ~ this is a FABULOUS list! Thank you! (Soooo loved “Can’t Buy Me Love” as a teen-ager and was thrilled to see it on TV a couple of weeks ago!)


    1. Once I discovered the younger McDreamy, I was like a crack addict (weird because I am not a fan of his McDreamy incarnation). I love ALL of his nerdy teen movies, some of which were not appropriate for this list. Have you seen “In the Mood”? “Heaven Help Us” was cute too.


  3. Great list! I love, love Mary Poppins and TSOM and have been singing those songs to my little one since she was born. Thanks for compiling this list. I always say the best part of being a parent is having a reason to re-watch all my favorite movies from childhood.


    1. I so agree, Mary Grace, and even some I didn’t know about as a kid (or missed because of being the wrong age). I also loved the questions my kids asked, which made me see the movie through their eyes.


  4. Ahhh great posts! Love the movie suggestions as they brought me back to movies I enjoyed when I was younger. I totally agree about The Wizard of Oz. That was my FAVORITE movie, I’ve watched it a million times. Did you ever see the sequel – Return to Oz? I loved it when I was younger but re-watched it as an adult and have no idea how I wasn’t completely freaked out by it!


    1. Have not seen “Return to Oz,” but I did see the recent “Oz the Great & Powerful.” And I saw “Wicked” on Broadway and hated it. Nothing beats the original! And the books are awesome. I am planning a post on Must-Read Books for Kids. The whole Oz series will be on it.


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