Sugar cereal and cartoons were the mark of my Saturday mornings growing up. It’s never been the same for my kids as we didn’t have cable for the first 10+ years of their life, but we have some rituals nonetheless! We call it Documentary Saturday.
There are so many amazing documentaries on Netflix even if your kids are little. We started off watching many of the nature, animal or geography ones about our earth. Now that they’re older we’ve branched out into politics, art, government and so on.
Of course, we know that every documentary has a slant. The storyteller is coming at it from their worldview and this has spearheaded many interesting conversations amongst our family. Whether its evolution or conspiracy theories or that time we accidentally started one about a performance art project where all of the models were naked! Oops! (Thankfully the opening scene showed all and I screamed “look away, look away!” and that was the end of that. ha)
Most Saturday mornings you can find us curled up with cups of coffee or bowls of cereal taking in whatever happens to jump out at us that day under the documentary genre. We’ve learned a lot from it and it’s exposed my kids to things I simply couldn’t teach them on my own.
I thought I’d share a few of our favourites!
This is an insider’s look at the world of street art and artists. It offers a look at some pretty quirky lives as well as a peak into the world of artists/criminals. Because tagging and graffiti is against the law it gave our family lots to talk about but also opened up this interesting art form as an actual art form. Graffiti isn’t just done by thugs looking to cause trouble. It’s actual artists with actual talent and actual motives – whether right or wrong. This was one of our favourites and we would definitely recommend it, specifically if you have teens – the twists are fantastic and we sure didn’t see them coming!
Food documentaries are some of my faves as I try to make sense of the world, the rise of allergies, the way our food is processed and what my family is eating. These documentaries are so good to watch along with your children – to open their eyes a bit to what they are actually eating and begging for. Watching these as a family have been game changers for us. I no longer have to be the bad guy always laying down the law on the food we buy and don’t buy – but our kids are educated and I can let them help make decisions.
We had been at the grocery store on a Friday and my boys asked if we could buy grape juice. I said no (juice isn’t something we do) and they argued that the label said it was 100% real fruit and no sugar. I stuck to my guns and left with disgruntled children. The next Saturday morning we just happened to watch Sugar Coated and they spoke exactly to the same grape juice that my boys had been wanting the day before. They talked of labeling and marketing and how much sugar was actually in the juice though it said no sugar with an asterisk! Talk about perfect reinforcement to my parenting!
Not exactly a nature story but an interesting look at whales in captivity and some of the stories behind the deaths of trainers. Before watching this, I had no idea about these stories, even though a famous moment happened right in our backyard in Victoria! I wouldn’t watch this with young children as some of the footage is shocking but again, for teens, it’s a great thing to watch and discuss as they form their own worldview and opinions on these sorts of matters around us.
This was our latest Saturday watch and it made me both irate and passionate for change. It was nothing I didn’t already know but confirmed so many things about the business behind chemical corporations. It shows us what’s going on in our food, in our beauty products, in our furniture and paint. It shows us what’s going on in congress and who is actually fighting for safety. It shows us some families dealing with the repercussions of toxin build up in the body. I’ll be writing more on this one soon – but I’m too riled up just now! ha
This oft hard-to-watch documentary gives us a glimpse into the lives of the children in Calucutta’s red light district. The work they do, the way they’re treated, the streets they run down and what they know about what their mama’s do is all a bit much for a heart like mine but it’s also stuff I need to know. This documentary is the story of a photographer who moves in amongst these children of prostitutes and teaches them the art of photography. It’s a beautiful picture of someone who cares as well as what can happen when kids are taught something and know a different way of life. As well as, what doesn’t happen – while my heart wanted each child to adopt this new way of life they were shown, of course they don’t all choose it.
I would totally encourage your family to hop onto Netflix and find some documentaries that will open your eyes to new things! Whether it’s new animals, new ways to cook or new insight into this world we live in – documentaries are a great way to spend time together and open up lots of great conversation.
What ones have you watched and loved? What should we check out next?
A few other faves to check out: