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Witches in Film for Small Children

While our older children and teens might be watching The Craft, Practical Magic, or Beautiful Creatures, there seem to be few films for young children celebrating good witches or witches who break out of the classic good vs. evil dichotomy.  In most children’s films witches are often depicted as hideous, wicked, and even bumbling at times.  In seeking out positive role models for my toddler, I compiled this short list of family films featuring witches or magic users who provide good or complex examples of magic users for the little witches in our care.


Wizard of Oz is a classic known for its background battles between Glinda the Good Witch against the Wicked Witch of the West, and while Glinda is a positive view, she lacks depth of character, and her motivations to use a young woman to assassinate her political enemy is certainly troubling.  In Oz the Great and Powerful, the witches are presented as more complex in character, their motivations made offering their backstory at a time when the con artist, later to become the Wizard of Oz, enters Oz and changes the balance of power.


The Worst Witch is a terrible film, but don’t let it stop you from sharing this 80s classic with your kids where witches attend a school to learn how to become exceptional witches.  Mildred, played by Fairuza Balk (later seen in The Craft), can’t seem to get anything right, and she’s on the verge of expulsion, when she uncovers a wicked plot from the headmistress’ evil twin.  It’s cheesy and a little weird, but it includes Tim Curry, and little kids love it.  I certainly did when it debuted when I was eight.


Studio Ghibli, headed by Hayao Miyazaki, has produced a number of amazing animated films for children, many of which contain examples of magic, witchcraft, and people who make use of them.  Kiki’s Delivery Service is the most directly about witches, as Kiki is a young witch who has flown to a new town to be of service to a community as the town witch.  However, this is far from the only young child appropriate Ghibli film with magic.  Spirited Away has twin witches, one a cruel businesswoman who still isn’t specifically evil, as she loves her giant son, while her sister is a kind witch living in the countryside. Ponyo, the most appropriate film for the youngest audiences, includes a wizard who tends the sea and appears to be the consort or husband to an ocean goddess.  Their largest fish daughter grows into her magic abilities and makes choices for herself.  Howl’s Moving Castle, meanwhile, is rife with magic, as magic users are utilized by their countries to wage wars between each other.  There are a lot of classic images, including a walking house with chicken legs, reminiscent of Baba Yaga tales.  If you like these films, there are plenty more in the Studio Ghibli worth looking into, including My Neighbor Totoro and The Cat Returns.


Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a classic Disney film, has an underrated apprentice witch named Miss Price.  She’s mature, practical, and keeps her head in numerous odd situations.  Her dedication to her studies is admirable, and she’s calm even in the face of unruly children and threatening men.  While most of Disney’s other witches are wicked in some form or another, they provided another positive example in the form of Aggie in Halloweentown, a grandmother hoping to teach her granddaughter magic, even though her daughter had given up her birthright.  It’s silly and a little dated, but definitely still entertaining to young children.


Then of course, there’s Maleficent, which turns the Sleeping Beauty story on its head and introduces the “evil” fairy as someone with depth, complexity, and vastly different motivations than simply being forgotten in a party invitation.  As protector of the fairy lands, Maleficent fights humans to keep her home safe, until she falls for a human boy and is then betrayed by him. What follows is a masterpiece of exploring obsession, vengeance, and love that transforms anger into forgiveness.


While the show was only in reruns by the time I was born, and I only saw a handful of episodes as a child, the Bewitched is far more charming than I expected.  Isabel, played by Nicole Kidman, is a real witch trying to live a mortal’s life, rather like Samantha, only to end up playing Samantha in a reboot with a selfish actor.  For a lighter film with a bit of romance and the hint of breaking the fourth wall, it’s definitely worth checking out.  Its major problem is in line with the original show: it inaccurately names male witches as warlocks, but given how Isable describes their lack of ethics, I suspect that perhaps warlock isn’t too far from the truth.


The Good Witch series of films produced by Hallmark.  Cassandra Nightingale is a witch whose magic is inferred by what happens around her, rather than anything overt.  There are no special effects, no strange glowing lights, just a woman with a kind heart healing children, growing a magical garden, and aware of the flow of energy about her. She never admits to being a witch, but everyone considers her one, regardless.  The series is rather formulaic and a bit washed clear of any real darkness, but it makes them safe for little children who aren’t ready for more mature films like The Harry Potter series, better for late elementary or middle school students.


As an honorable mention, The Neverending Story, while full of magic, doesn’t have many witches, except for one. Urgi is a healing witch living near the Southern Oracle with her scientific husband who doesn’t take her abilities seriously.  He calls her work nonsense, but she’s anything but nonsensical. In the brief moments we see her, she reveals she’s competent, kind, and firm in her stance.


Looking for representations of young male witches has been nearly impossible.  For my son, he has plenty of female examples of witches, but the boys and men are either labeled warlocks, wizards, or simply don’t become magical at all.  I’ll keep looking, and so should you.  What films would you recommend for little witches?

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Raven lives in a forest with her two homeschooled children, partner, and several demanding cats. She enjoys performing, cooks a mean burger, and is obsessed with farming, but has yet to adopt a goat. Her publications are listed at


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Sunday, 23 October 2016

    I don't know of any more films to add to your list offhand, but I can recommend the animated series "Flying Witch" and "Natsume Yujin-Cho". You can find them both on Natsume is a teenage boy with great power but no training and the magicians are all exorcists some of whom are quite willing to take advantage of Natsume's kindness. Some episodes of "Natsume Yujin-Cho" may be scary for young children but as long as your watching it with them they should be fine.

  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers Tuesday, 25 October 2016

    Thank you for the recommendations. My teen is a huge otaku, I'm sure she can help me find these to show her brother.

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