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Why Movie Musical Characters Make Great Role Models

06/04/2014 05:55 pm ET | Updated Aug 04, 2014
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

By Betsy Bozdech, Executive Editor, Common Sense Media

Ready for your kids to start belting out something besides "Let It Go" and "For the First Time in Forever"? Try introducing them to a classic musical. Here are our top three reasons that show-tune-packed picks are great for kids:

1. The music and songs get kids moving.
Plus, they're often more memorable than standard dialogue -- and memorizing songs strengthens kids' listening skills.

2. There's a built-in conversation starter.
You can talk about the difference between speaking the words and singing them and ask kids whether they can figure out what purpose each song fills (in the best musicals, the songs always either help develop the characters or move the story along).

3. Characters tend to be clearly identifiable as "good" and "bad."
This can help you talk to your kids about which specific character traits are valued in your family -- and why. (There are always exceptions, of course; we recommend skipping darker titles like Carousel, Rent and Dreamgirls until kids are old enough to understand the more complex issues and characters they tackle.)

If you're in the market for some great musical role models to start with, try any of these iconic characters, and find more -- from Mulan to the High School Musical gang -- in our Musicals for Kids list):

Musical: Annie
Character: Annie
Great trait: Optimism
What we love about her: She may live in a dismal orphanage run by the disastrous Miss Hannigan, but Annie never stops believing in the promise of tomorrow. She's a loyal friend, a hard worker and resourceful in even the trickiest circumstances.
Signature song: "Tomorrow"

Musical: Mary Poppins
Character: Mary Poppins
Great trait: Creativity
What we love about her: She doesn't take any nonsense, but the world's most memorable nanny is also full of creative ways to have fun -- from cleaning up the nursery with magic to dancing on the rooftops. Firm but loving, Mary's an excellent adult role model for kids.Signature song: "A Spoonful of Sugar"

Musical: The Music Man
Character: Harold Hill
Great trait: Spontaneity
What we love about him: OK, so technically "Professor" Hill is a con man, but his ability to take unexpected events in stride -- and improvise as he goes -- helps him realize that there's much more to life than cheating honest people out of their hard-earned money. Who doesn't love a reformed "bad guy"?
Signature song: "Ya Got Trouble"

Musical: The Sound of Music
Character: Maria
Great trait: Idealism
What we love about her: Leaving the safety of the abbey behind to become a governess to seven mischievous children might daunt even the cheeriest of souls, but Maria has such a strong belief in herself -- and the power of music -- that she succeeds where many others failed. And she finds a new family in the process.
Signature song: "I Have Confidence"

Musical: Oliver!
Character: Oliver Twist
Great trait: Resilience
What we love about him: Another iconic orphan, Oliver survives by being resilient and maintaining his innocence despite his difficult life. And in doing so, he ultimately moves from the mean streets of London to a real home, learning some important lessons along the way.
Signature song: "Where Is Love?"

About Common Sense Media
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