Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good Films for 12-year old Girls - 7QuickTakes

My 12-year old will not be watching The Hunger Games any time soon. She hasn't read the books. Some of her friends have read the books and saw the movie at the midnight premiere. I think if I described the books' plot (I have read them), she would be happy that I am not permitting her to go with "everyone" who is watching the movie. I am taking my big girls and some of their friends to see Mirror, Mirror this weekend. I hope it will be a fun, appropriate film. My quick takes are some of my favorite movies that I think work for this age: 


My Fair Lady (1964) - I love the songs, but this film leads to many discussions on relationships (like really- she ends up with Henry Higgins?)



The Song of Bernadette (1943)- religious, but not overly sentimental. It's a great example of positive 'girl power'


The Sound of Music (1965)- a good film to discuss vocation and God's will


Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea (1985)- lovely- I've never seen the third installment, and I hope my girls won't succumb to the temptation. Even though The Road to Avonlea series is not perfectly in line with L M Montgomery's books, I'm okay with the changes and expansions there as the 'story girl' books aren't so sacrosanct. 



Lark Rise to Candleford (2008)- a British series about a small village girl working in the big town.




The Truman Show (1998)- I just like it, and I think my girls will, too.




Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (1991) - It has been years since I've seen this movie, but I think my girls will like it! Bring your hankies!




Other possibilities: Miss Potter, Newsies, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (almost any musical), A Walk to Remember
Animation that I like: The Incredibles (an intact family! mom stays at home but is a super woman!), Tangled, Mulan
Sometimes the rating doesn't matter so much- I'm thinking The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13) and The King's Speech (R) would both be good for my big girls to see with me in the near or not so near future
dear reader- please add your movie suggestions in the combox

more quick takes at conversiondiary.com

53 comments:

  1. I'll have to keep this in mind, for some future day if and when the Lord happens to bless me with a daughter or daughters :)

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  2. Part of Wild Hearts Can't be Broken was filmed in my old hometown in SC. All the kids from our school dressed in costume and went to the set for the day. Love, love, love that movie. I loved The Apple Dumpling Gang growing up.

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  3. Ann-Marie- I love the Apple Dumpling Gang- we have enjoyed most of the 60-70s live action Disney with our girls

    Deltaflute- I think Lord of the Rings is a bit much for my girls- so we'll start with The Hobbit when it (finally!) comes out (I'm sure it will be plenty spooky)- the girls have loved the Narnia movies to varying degrees and have read the series multiple times- they are just getting started on the Ring books

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  4. I've read the Hunger Games books, and I think they are worth reading, but not for a 12 year old! I think maybe 16 or 17? At any rate, I'm probably not going to see the movie. I don't really care for violence depicted on the screen, although it can have a purpose.

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    1. omg why dont you think the hunger games is ok for kids????? i cried laughed and cried again because of peeta being "just a character" he is the perfect peson and im so glad i read the book btw im 12 almost 13 and i was obsessed! and still am

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    2. omg why do you think of the hunger games that way! im 12 and i was obsessed and thought nothing of the violence cus it really doesn't matter! i think everyone should have a chance to feel close to peeta aka josh because ever since i read the book i have been obsessed!!! BTW im 12 years old

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    3. Well, i'm 12 and i read all three of The Hunger Games and I loved them! I admit that some parts in the second and third books are a bit scary but definitely nit nightmare worthy though it does worry me that Suzanne Collins can think of such horrible things in her mind. Great writing but wow. I would recommend Princess: A Modern Fairytale. I'm a bit obsessed with books and movies about ghosts, mermaids, fairies and all of that. By the way, rethink the hunger games, it's one of those amazing books that makes you laugh and cry and get you ready for books you will be able to read when you're older.

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    4. the hunger games are fine for 12 year olds!! And im a mother!!

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  5. The Sandlot! There's one curse word, but it's such a good kids flick. And when I was middle school ish age, my next-down sister and I swooned innocently over Benny the Jet Rodriguez. Plus it has a good message - sometimes the things that "everyone knows" are a bunch of nonsense.

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  6. Oh GADS, The Hunger Games. Do not get me started. I went on a rant at lunchtime today, carefully timed so my 11 year old son would hear me, about how much I hate the concept of postapocalyptic novels aimed at young people. (Almost as much as I hate vampire novels, especially the "Vampires are sparkly and COOL" type of novels)

    I have all boys, so all our movies are, obviously, geared towards boys. However, the William Hurt/Charlotte Gainsborough version of Jane Eyre is pretty nifty. I haven't really watched any movies that girls would like since my oldest boy was able to voice an opinion about what we watch. We watch a lot of superhero movies, is what I'm saying.

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  7. Karen- at least the girl-hero of the Hunger Games has outside interests, and love for family etc, etc-really there is no comparison to Twilight- so I can see where moms would want their girls to emulate her (of course in a non-violent, non-end-of-the-world-way)- but we can wait (yay for dvds!) until it is more age-appropriate

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  8. You're right not to watch The Hunger Games with your daughters - I read this article today

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2122524/The-Hunger-Games-Its-film-child-wants--violence-disturbing.html

    and there is no way I will let my son watch it (who is 12 and fine with things like Lord of the Rings)

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  9. I guess it's my pick cause my kids are little. It could also be that their boys and boys like a little adventure and suspense (not that girls don't but boys don't want to watch a lot of movies like Anne of Green Gables. I could just envision them with their eyes glazed over and telling me that the movie is about a girl.) The violence is a bit much, but I think by age 12 we can have a talk about "Just War" theory on their level and the difference between fantasy violence and real violence. The first movie of the series isn't all that bloody.

    The Hunger Games is meant to be political. It's talking about human sacrifice indicative of ancient Rome or Aztecs. I think it's great for older teens to talk about human history and about how we could eventually head down that road again. Fr. Baron gives a great talk about the subject. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsFBbS39_z0

    I think Hunger Games would be way too frightening for middle schoolers. Better wait or see it by yourself.

    I'm also looking forward to the Hobbit too. Another movie might be Eragon. I like the Narnia ones too.

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    1. My son really loves Eragon, and my daughter doesn't mind it too much (8 - nearly 9)

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    2. I haven't seen "Eragon" but I love the Christopher Paolini books enough that I bought them all specifically for my NOOK.

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  10. Deltaflute- I'm sure my picks will be much different when my 5 year old boy is 12- for now, we like adventure like Swiss Family Robinson (even though I need to be there with him- he is still little)and the typical cartoons- he really likes the Busy Town videos I bought him

    I've been following Peter Jackson's video blogs about production of the Hobbit and I can't wait! Husband and I are going alone and then we will take the big girls- the Ring movie were our only 'date night' movies (when you pay $10 an hour for babysitting, you don't waste a babysitter on drivel)

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  11. What's the rush with most of society? I like the idea that my kids can "discover" some of these great (or not) movies on their own. It's funny, though how I look at movies so differently, now! I showed the kids some clips of Popeye with Robin Williams and had never noticed the bevy of saloon girls- sigh! I am not impressed with those parents who want their kids to have the short-lived high of going along with the crowd; even at the cost of their eternal souls, perhaps....
    this is a loaded topic, PW!
    -F

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    1. I have discovered this phenomenon with movies and music both. Movies that I remember as being really great so often have plenty of things that I would not want to expose my kids to. I've learned that I really need to preview movies, even if I think they're great.

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  12. ...and that comment was not directed at your family at at all!!! Oh, and how about Cheaper by the Dozen? I was surprised that my young kids were pretty mature at the point of the father's death.
    -F

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  13. F- yes- it is usually good to wait- and my kids are so lucky that we can find almost anything on video (not like in the old days of my childhood)

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  14. Excellent films! Audrey Hepburn was fantastic in My Fair Lady. Roman Holiday I think is also a good one, especially for younger girls, because it does have a slightly more youthful, "princess-y" feel to it. Soul Surfer is also excellent for young girls. Whale Rider, too, although it does deal with slightly more intense family relationship issues than most movies like it. And I, too, LOVED the Song of Bernadette. They just don't make 'em like that anymore!

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  15. Wow, Priest's Wife, I am shocked at some of these on your list! While these are mostly "feel-good" films, a lot of them impart horribly injurious philosophy to undiscerning minds. Especially The Sound of Music... Like I said, I am shocked.

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    1. I can empathize with a person thinking this is a joke what I am writing...but I'm totally serious. The Sound of Music has all the sentiment of piety, but NONE of the actuality. Almost every act in the movie that is applauded as laudable is really and actually that of dishonor or disobedience. It's terribly scandalous. My Fair Lady is based upon a philosophy that what separates stations in life is merely refinement, instead of the defined notion of nobility. If one takes a peasant and teaches him refinement, one will never make him a noble. If what this movie presents is true, then the whole notion of a noble class is utterly mis-labeled. Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken is rife with immodesty and rejection of the natural role of a woman. It ends with the main character, Serena, as blind (a physical evil which would have easily been prevented had she stayed in her place).

      The only one that I would agree with on your list, personally, is The Song of Bernadette...and really only with parental supervision... :)

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    2. Why do you think these films are appropriate for twelve-year-old girls?

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    3. Hi Nicole! Your perspective is important- and yes- I agree with some of them- I watch movies with my children so that we can discuss these issues.

      I have a feeling we are going to have to 'agree to disagree' with what I think my children can benefit from. I do know some families who forbid any kind of media which isn't overtly Catholic and 'perfect' in its world view- but I'm not sure that complete censorship is the way to go.

      Specifically- The Sound of Music (the book is better, of course) has Maria go to her Mother Superior for permission (I believe the Mother Superior knew that she didn't have a religious vocation and that is why she was asked to be a nanny for the family)- the scenes with the Mother Superior really show an (albeit Hollywood-type) obedience to God through the authority of the Mother Superior. It also shows that it is alright to discern a religious vocation through living in a convent/monastery and that there is no shame (which I agree) by discovering that religious life isn't the vocation-especially before any vows were made.

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    4. Nicole- "Why do you think these films are appropriate for 12-year olds?"

      Lark Rise- although the protagonist is a woman- deals with old-fashioned values, so even though there is not a Catholic presence (it is in Anglican England), God and morals are.

      Anne of Green Gables has a very young protagonist- so in general- theses kinds of movies are 'safe' - but yes, she is an orphan and sensitive children might not be able to deal with that concept.

      Both Truman Show & Wild hearts I haven't seen in years, so I will need to view them before my girls- they might need to wait awhile, but I think both have worthwhile themes and are entertaining.

      We love musical theater, so if the film or play is neutral or positive we will see it- perhaps waiting until the material is more age appropriate- My Fair Lady is on the edge (because of her drunk father- but even that has important themes to discuss)

      We mothers have a hard (maybe impossible) job to achieve some kind of balance. I want my children to be moral, upstanding practicing Catholics. I also don't want them to be shocked that yes, other religions exist, other world views exist- I can't isolate my children from everything (even though most people would smile at my list for being overly protective).

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    5. I understand, Priest's Wife, your children are your (you and husband/priest's) responsibility.

      The problem with The Sound of Music is not the lack of religious vocation on the part of Maria, it's the fact that she's constantly disobeying the Captain's (legitimate) orders and leading the children into such disobedience against their father...even to the point of Maria quarreling with him. Another problem is the fact that Captain von Trapp offends against Baroness Schraeder, his fiancee, by his dalliance with Maria, culminating in breaking their engagement for no good reason. This is certainly NOT edifying.

      The point of my statements is not about denying that other religions exist, nor isolating one's children from everything, but rather prudential judgment. I see it neither edifying nor perfecting to show such films to a child, and so in my prudential judgment, I would not.

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    6. Nicole- What are your favorite movies for this age group? I need more ideas! As we don't have television, I usually borrow movies through Netflix.

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    7. I don't have any, honestly. I understand your predicament, wanting to provide recreation for your children and fun-time together with the films, but I have no suggestions to give you. I know this may come across as corny, but many of the saints' lives beat out Hollywood fiction any day for interest...perhaps reading them the lives of St.s Barbara, Theoctiste of Lesbos, Catherine of Alexandria, Maria Aegyptica, Melania the Younger, Anastasia Patricia, Pulcheria Augusta, Tatiana of Rome, and the numerous female Western saints? Ultimately it's up to you, really. I wish you the best in your endeavors!

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    8. Nicole- This is a good idea- "Story of a Soul" probably would be the best way to begin

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    9. Nicole,

      I find one of your comments interesting.

      "My Fair Lady is based upon a philosophy that what separates stations in life is merely refinement, instead of the defined notion of nobility. If one takes a peasant and teaches him refinement, one will never make him a noble. If what this movie presents is true, then the whole notion of a noble class is utterly mis-labeled."

      I am interested why you believe this - it certainly does not align with my experience. So, is there a reference you can point me to?

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    10. I don't really know what you're asking, Bear, but if you make your question more specific, I'm more than happy to answer with what source/reference I use to determine my positions :).

      Just as an aside, also, My Fair Lady is based upon the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw a very infamous Fabian Socialist. His beliefs are woven throughout the story line of the play and manifest in the movie, as well.

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    11. Nicole, I'm confused by your critique of The Sound of Music.

      Should one always obey directives even when they are not in the best interest of those involved? I agree that there is more to life than fun but the way the Captain (who I absolutely love despite his gruff beginning) is raising his children is simply sad. Marching, whistling, standing at attention - those are actions for the military not for a five year old child. When Maria arrives they do not neglect their duties but she finds ways to make them more enjoyable. And the thunderstorm would be another example, was it wrong for Maria to comfort the children who were frightened?

      As for Baroness Schraeder, the Captain has no "dalliance" with Maria while still engaged. He hardly even speaks to Maria about anything not specifically related to the children until she returns from the convent and he has broken off the engagement. He breaks off the engagement because he is not in love with the Baroness. Would it be better to marry someone that one does not love? Also, as she states, they aren't well suited for each other: she needs someone who needs her or at least her money and the Captain is much to independent (probably not word for word but it's been a few months since I've watched the movie).

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  16. "High Noon" when your son is older.

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  17. I love High Noon- a Western that is good for the entire (older teens and up) family is True Grit (Fr Barron/Word on Fire liked it!)

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    1. Fr. Barron also liked The Hunger Games. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't approve for a 12 year old, though. :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsFBbS39_z0

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  18. I may not agree with these choices (I don't agree with some), but I would be interested to know the reasons for them.

    One of my sisters used to send me her two oldest children for holidays with me, so I had to navigate the problem of films: but the last point of call was always parental prohibition. However, due the insistence of the younger relatives, I endured some of the most frightful films in recent history. But it meant that I also saw some very good films, which reenforced Tolkien's view about children's stories. In his essay "On Fairy Stories" he states that if adults can not read a child's story and enjoy it as an adult, then it is not good enough for children.

    I think that the same is true of films - if an adult seeing the film for the first time, and seeing it as an adult, can not enjoy the film, then it is not good enough for children. And not, that is not because I was traumatised by modern Hollywood schmaltz... (Tolkien objected to some illustrations of "The Hobbit" saying that they were too "Dinsified".)

    A second point is that I would avoid films that "Catholic" or "Christian". Films should be good in their own right, and not rely upon a religious or philosophical affiliation. C. S. Lewis had a similar view on "Christian" writers. So unless a film is good, I wouldn't show it to children.

    There are a couple of things (apart from the aesthetic and literary requirements) that I look for in children's films:

    (1) the characters with whom children identify are moral entities; and
    (2) these characters are given moral freedom to act.

    What I mean by moral freedom is the ability to make decisions - free from adults or other authority. So if they make bad decisions, there are consequences. Clearly, as children grow into adulthood this will be more sophisticated and the endings can also be sad.

    In order to make informed comments out Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy and the associated film, I struggled through the books and endured the film. I found the books to be didactic and tedious (note I read Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Camus &c.). But what most irritated me was that the children always had adults hanging around instructing them (Pullman is after all a school teacher...). The children were never left alone.

    Contrasting this with Tolkien, in the Hobbit, Bilbo is left alone a number of times and has to act morally. He is even given a moral problem regarding the Arkenstone, the heirloom of his companions. Similarly, in "The Lord of the Rings" each of the hobbits is left abandoned by a higher authority and has to make decisions.

    Just a couple of thoughts.

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    1. I fast-forwarded through Pullman's Golden Compass and didn't like it at all- so yes, you are very right that not all 'children's' movies are good for children...my girls didn't see it

      What are some of your favorites?

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    2. Bear- I wouldn't "avoid" overtly Catholic or Christian films- but yes, just because they are labelled as such does not make them good art or even safe for children's viewing

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    3. I am not sure if all of these are apposite for all 12 year olds, but in the past I have found the following to be enjoyable by children of about that age.

      * Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre
      * Stardust
      * Whale Rider
      * The Secret of Roan Inish
      * Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
      * Labyrinth
      * La cité des enfants perdus

      It probably reflects my frivolous nature...

      As far as the overtly Catholic or Christian films, in my experience they lean on this because the underlying material is lacking. So it is a just flag warning of possible lack.

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    4. Thanks for the ideas- I've seen all of these, but my girls haven't.

      I was thinking that my list was very English-language-centric.

      A non-English language film that would be good for my daughter is 'Children of Heaven'-a Persian film about a brother and sister dealing with life with ONE pair of shoes.

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    5. I'm 12 and i like star-dust. Since i'm twelve, here are some i would recommend:
      The Roxy Hunter Series: About a girl who goes on adventures. She is about 9-13 years old
      Lord of the Rings: watched it with my brother and parents.
      Parental Guidance: watched it with my mom. It was HILARIOUS

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  19. Bear- My girls have performed in a Shakespeare class for four years (taking October to March to prepare a play) so we like watching different productions (there are actually very cool (edited for length) versions made from claymation and puppets too)

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    1. A high school teacher, who teaches English at an independent Protestant school, told me that there are many adaptations of Shakespeare aimed at teenagers. I recall that she was talking about "10 Things I Hate About You", which was an adaptation of "The Taming of the Shrew". She said that these film help the students engage with the play.

      So it sounds fun.

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  20. Nicole, I am concerned about your attributing blindness in Wild Hearts can't be Broken to some kind of punishment. Are You Catholic? I assume so-- given your suggestions of only saint stories for your children's recreation. I will pray that when your children enter the world they are not shocked into rebellion. I am very grateful to my parents who chose good cinema for us and commented throughout. We had many discussions around the dinner table, as well. It's important to remember that all people are flawed but can be redeemed.
    -F

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    1. F,

      I agree absolutely. Although we are not of the world, we are in the world, and our mission as Christians is to bear witness to the world. To do so, we have to engage in the culture around us.

      Since cinema is such a significant and influential cultural artifact, we have to ensure that our children can engage with this medium: to embrace what is good, and to reject what is defective. This means that parents, and eccentric older relatives, need to engage with the children in films (and books and music and games and fashions &c.).

      Not to do so will mean that we disconnect from society, and we might as well live in a ghetto or in communities such as the Mennonite communities (Amish??) in the US.

      I suspect that PW is trying to determine a curriculum of films for the girls - teaching them so by the time they are adults (in six years time!!) they are able to engage independently in a positive and constructive way.

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    2. F - I do profess to be Catholic. I did not attribute Serena's blindness to a punishment: it's a story, how could I know for certain WHY she ended up blind? The fact is that she ended up blind and that it was an unnecessary outcome.

      This area of cinema is an area in which the prudential judgment of parents is to be applied. I never said that Priest's Wife or Priest/husband himself were sinning in what they allow their children to view, but that some of the material referenced above is objectively scandalous. If her approx. twelve-year-old daughters are discerning immorality from morality well, then perhaps it is well that her children view these films. That is up to she and her Priest/husband to decide.

      I said explicitly, in my prudential judgment, I would not show these films to a child.

      There is also nothing wrong with detaching one's self from the detriment present in the world. Merely because a lay person lives in the world is no reason to wallow like swine in the mire.

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  21. F- I don't remember WHY she became blind (yes- it was an accident with the horse)- but did she disobey someone and then do the trick? In any case, one theme that really resonated with me was the man was faithful to her even in her blindness (in sickness and in health)

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  22. One romance I absolutely loved was Bright Star; about John Keats and Fanny Brawne's romance. Maybe not for twelve year olds (it's PG- but the on-screen chemistry is perhaps a bit too much) ; but I just had to mention it! It is a fine line that we as parents have to trod with our children-- and I know that we will fail at times; but it is important to allow our children a certain amount of freedom within our homes; as Bear said, or else real tragedy can occur. I know too many instances of this.
    Thank you, Bear for your contribution! I am a real fan of Priest's Wife and enjoy all of your comments!
    -F

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  23. The Miracle Worker.
    I over reading your list and the comments too. very interesting. We keep very close tabs on what the kids can watch..but are more liberal in what they can read..
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

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  24. I saw Mirror, Mirror with my 2 big girls (almost 13 and almost 12) last night, and I felt like it was a good choice- even the friend who has seen Hunger Games 3 times (yes- in the past week) enjoyed it.

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