Spending time with your kids, or satisfying your sci-fi itch – how do you choose?
Just kidding, of course. Any of you who are parents out there know it’s not a competition – your children get first dibs on your time. Depending on how much of a science fiction nut you are, though, you might be looking for some ways to do both. In addition to scratching your own itch, you could just end up inspiring an even greater love for the genre in your offspring. Who knows – you could be tucking in the next Arthur Clarke or Octavia Butler before you hit the sack tonight!
There are numerous ways you can go about enjoying some fantastic science fiction for kids with your little (or not so little) ones. I’d figured to begin with the most obvious of these – sci-fi movies. It’s a given that many of our favorite science fiction movies are intense, suspenseful, sometimes scary, and chock full of other thematic elements (namely violence) that are intended for mature viewers only. But what about when you want to include the whole family?
While most of us on this side of the Brave New World are free to choose how we want to raise our kids (and you won’t find any judgment here), chances are you don’t want to risk traumatizing them forever (or just giving them nightmares) by breaking out something like The Fly or 28 Days Later for family movie night. At the same time, you don’t have to watch something boring, either.
Science Fiction for Kids – 5 Superb Sci-Fi Movies
Chances are, you’ve seen some or all of these movies already, whether you have kids or not. That’s why I’m only including real gems on this list, movies that are well worth watching for a second or third or umpteenth time. Bear in mind, some of these selections of science fiction for kids might be more appropriate for one particular age group or another – I’m sure your judgment will prove capable of sorting them out.
Kids will love the bright, cheerful animation, and older ones will appreciate the story, too. But this movie is also a blast for parents (at least, parents who are future-minded sci-fi enthusiasts with a special place in their heart for optimistic social commentary).
I love this movie. It’s like a happy version of Watchmen, where retired superheroes get called back into action one last time. Also, it’s a family affair, making it a little like The Fantastic Four if The Fantastic Four was anything approaching fantastic.
Big Hero 6
My favorite animated movie since Wall-E, Big Hero 6 is a coming of age story with a dash of superhero origin story. I really don’t think the AI portrayed in this film is far-fetched at all, either.
It’s not always easy for kids (or adults, for that matter) to appreciate older movies. If you have a budding film critic on your hands, though, check out 1972’s Silent Running, one my all-time favorite space-themed movies.
I don’t think I need to say much about this classic (ED: I’m suddenly craving Reeses Pieces…), but it’s a great example of what I’m going for.
Now, sci-fi movies are fun and all, but there’s more than one way to accomplish the goal of uniting your passion for parenting with your science fiction fanaticism. If one of your goals is to limit your kids’ screen time, maybe one of these will do the trick…
Science Fiction for Kids – 5 Super Cool Sci-Fi Board Games
There are a ton of cool science fiction-themed board games on the market, and I’m not just talking about Star Wars Monopoly. Check out these board games if you’re looking for some interactive fun for the whole family:
Star Fleet Battles
This one is for the Trekkies. It’s a fairly complex game, but it’s designed to be learned as you go along, meaning that even relatively young players can manage.
You can choose the difficulty in this game, and it only takes about half an hour to play a full round. The coolest thing about it is that it’s a cooperative game, so you work with instead of against each other.
Recommended for 12 and up, Cosmic Encounter is a game of alien supremacy that’s been around for decades and has only gotten more popular. The word is that this game inspired Magic: The Gathering. What more do you need to know?
Okay, so it might sound a bit funny. Well, it is – and that’s the appeal! In Galaxy Trucker, you have to build an interstellar transport vehicle and become the most sought after long-hauler in the cosmos. It’ll have you laughing out loud for the whole hour it takes to play.
This is a really fun game for anyone who gets excited about time travel paradoxes. It has an educational aspect to it as well, incorporating a lot of significant historical moments into the game play. Be prepared to find out what your kids have been learning in school (and what you’ve forgotten).
Obviously, both of those lists could be way longer, and there are also more ways than just movies and board games to include your kids in your world of science fiction fandom (video games, sci-fi conventions, role-playing, Lego spaceship building, etc.). Hopefully, this gives you some good ideas, though. Feel free to let the rest of us in on your favorite family sci-fi activity in the comments section below!