What to Watch, Read, and Play While Your Kids Are Stuck Indoors

Whether it's a snow day or a pandemic, these great media picks can help ease stress of families stuck at home.

Whether it's a snow day, a random school holiday, or a global pandemic, unforeseen time at home with the kids can be stressful, especially if kids are feeling anxious. But if parenting teaches you anything, it's to keep calm and carry on. While some parents will get creative in the kitchen or let kids go wild on a science experiment, sometimes everyone just needs a little distraction to soften the edges. So if your kids are getting antsy, deploy something fun, engaging, and enjoyable for the whole family—whether you watch a movie snuggled on the couch, listen to an audiobook while building with Legos, or challenge each other in an all-ages video game.

Watch (all picks available on streaming platforms)

Frozen 2, 6+
The music! The ice! The magical, death-defying battles! It's all here in this just-released sequel full of positive messages and awesome role models tailor-made for winter snuggles.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, 7+
Young Viking Chief Hiccup and his trusty dragon Toothless are back for a third and final try at saving the town's dragons from certain doom, while learning the power of teamwork, courage, and familial support.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, 7+
This inventive, book-based movie pulls off the rare trick of being a thinking person's film for kids, as it follows the misadventures of a very imaginative boy living in a very quirky town.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 10+
The real-life story of the friendship between Fred Rogers and a skeptical journalist shows kids that the simplest things in life may be the most valuable.

Hairspray, 11+
A bit tamer than Jon Waters' original, this celebration of inclusivity features a rock-around-the-clock soundtrack and cool cameos by Zac Efron and Queen Latifah.

Men in Black, 12+
The main charm in Men in Black—part comedy, part science fiction parody, part action film—lies in the hilarious interplay between a comic Will Smith and straight man Tommy Lee Jones as they try to rid the world of obnoxious aliens.

Read

The Best of Iggy, 8+
With a light touch and loads of humor, author Annie Barrows (of Ivy + Bean fame) gets into the head of Iggy, a hapless kid who veers into some bad actions—but always grows a little bit from his experiences.

Diana: Princess of the Amazons, 8+
Complex enough for older kids but gentle enough for younger readers, this graphic novel tells the story of a young Wonder Woman trying to find her place in the world.

New Kid, 8+
Winner of the Newbery Medal and the 2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award, this graphic novel illustrates what it's like to be not just the new kid, but also one of the few students of color at a private school.

Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof, 9+
This is the first installment in a sports-themed, magical fantasy series created by the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, which delivers lots of positive messages about the value of sports physically, mentally, and in building character.

Almost American Girl, 12+
Author and cartoonist Frances Ha recounts her experience as a lonely South Korean teen struggling to fit in in Alabama, and eventually learning to belong by concentrating on her art.

Sunnyside Plaza, 12+
Inspired by his own experience, award-winning journalist Scott Simon tells the story of a group home through the eyes of one of its developmentally disabled residents, resulting in a fascinating tale of spirit and determination.

Play

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, 7+
Get the whole family together and race go-karts through all manner of twisty, jump-filled tracks using the world's silliest weapons (banana peels, turtles). (Nintendo Switch)

Ring Fit Adventure, 10+
This fitness adventure game will get kids' creativity flowing and their blood pumping as they fight monsters through several levels of endurance activities. (Nintendo Switch)

The Jackbox Party Pack 6, 12+
A collection of games that are best for small groups and kids with their own devices (iPads, laptops, phones). Can be really funny, but includes a bit of mature content. (Windows, PS4, Xbox)