Our Summer Tween Movie Nights

Earlier this spring, we decided that one of the things we’d do during the summer was a weekly movie night with Ella.

She turned twelve this summer and our weekly Friday family movie nights definitely skew younger because our other girls are 5, 7 and 9.

The week that school got out, we started up these tween movie nights and it’s been a really delightful part of our summer.

Because our summer schedule is more loose than the school year, we haven’t had a set day of the week that we did this on, but it was usually Monday or Tuesday nights (and generally, we didn’t start early enough to get through a whole movie in one night and we’d finish it up another evening during the week).

And some weeks we missed entirely.

Basically, this was not a formal or regimented thing – it was just a fun way to spend time with Ella during the summer and watch some of the movies that wouldn’t be on the family movie night docket for many years.

We’d put the other girls to bed and usually start around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. and watch in our bedroom until about 10:15.

tween movie night

We’ve MAINLY watched Marvel movies this summer because Ella expressed interest in those (most of her friends have seen some or all of them), plus Bart is a huge Marvel fan and was thrilled about getting to introduce her to them. Plus, once you start down the Marvel movie path, it’s hard not to keep going.

Here are some of the movies we’ve watched:

Some other movies on our list to watch with her:

I’ve gotten a LOT of questions about these tween movie nights – here were some of the most frequently asked questions:

Who picks the movies?
We’ve generally given her some options each week and then she chooses from those.

Do you watch the movie first to make sure it’s appropriate for your kid to watch?
We haven’t watched any movies with her (aside from the PBS Little Women) that we hadn’t already seen ourselves, so it wasn’t an issue where we needed to pre-screen before showing them to her.

Still PG or PG-13?
Most of what we’ve watched this summer with her has been PG-13.

What is the content that led it to be tweens category – at what point did you draw the line?
We don’t really have a strong black line – it’s definitely more gray. Anything that had more swearing in it (like Marvel movies) or violence isn’t something we’d watch with our littler girls right now. And some of them are too scary for the little girls, like the later Harry Potter movies, or a little too complicated for them to follow (like the PBS Little Women). Basically, we’re just making it up as we go.

Do you have discussion with it or just watch for fun?
It’s just for fun. We had a chat before the first movie and talked about how if any of the movies were too much for her, we could easily turn it off or pick something else and that she was welcome to ask us any questions she had about any of the movies or the content.

Do you do two movies? One older/younger?
We do family movie night with everyone on Friday nights, so this is in addition to that, but the other girls don’t watch something else while we’re watching.

Do the other girls really accept that their time to watch movies with you will come and go to bed happily every week?
We mentioned at the beginning of the summer that we were going to do this with Ella and that they could each do the same once they were done with sixth grade. On the actual days of, we don’t make any big deal out of it, so it’s not like “ELLA gets to stay up late and watch a movie and you all have to go to bed.” Generally, I don’t know that they’re even very tuned into the fact that we’re watching with her – we just tuck them into bed as normal and then go watch in our room. And they’ve been in our family long enough to know that throwing a huge tantrum about it would get them less than nothing – not only would it CERTAINLY not get them invited to watch with us, but it’d be a quick trip to losing their privileges of listening to audiobooks in bed or reading as late as they’d like. It’s been a complete non-issue this summer.

What’s been her favorite movie from this summer?
She says either Harry Potter 6 or Ironman.

Any other questions about these tween movie nights? Have you done something like this? I’d love to hear!


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  1. I do this but on bi-monthly dates with my daughters. I started with the HP movies, we’re now on Austen adaptations and will start the Hunger Games soon. It’s so fun and a neat way to spend a little one on one time with them. Our youngest is six so our family movie nights do look a little younger and more enjoyed by our whole family.

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