Here’s a wonderful movie that you might like to try for a family movie night.
Children of Heaven is an Iranian film about a boy who loses his sister’s only pair of shoes. Their family is poor and their mother is ill so the children conspire to share the boy’s shoes.
It’s sad, funny, charming and troubling all at once. As well as being simply delightful to watch, Children of Heaven shows just how close to poverty an otherwise 'normal' life can be for children.
The children are well cared for and well fed; they go to school and have a safe and comfortable home where they live with parents who love them.
And yet, a new pair of shoes is an unthinkable luxury.
It's English sub-titled, but there are only small amounts of dialogue and the on-screen reading is pretty simple. Reasonably competent readers will have no trouble keeping up and the words are slow enough that you can read aloud to younger children as you go. The age range is 5 years and up if you’re willing to read out subtitles (though there are a couple of lines you might choose to skip).
There are no guilt trips implicit in the film, but it does leave you with a keen sense of first-world abundance.
And if the idea of shoes as a symbol of security captures the attention of the children in your life, here's a book you might also like:
Four Feet, Two Sandals tells the true-ish story of two young girls living in a displaced persons camp.
When the camp receives a delivery of shoes, they pick up one shoe each of a matching pair.
The girls forge a lovely friendship as they decide how to handle the four feet, two sandals dilemma and eventually settle on sharing the shoes—each taking a turn. Which means that each girl is left shoeless while the other takes her turn.
That’s hard to imagine when there’s a drawer or closet full of shoes for different occasions.
Those special shoes come to symbolise the girl’s friendship and the hope they have to meet again in America.
When we first bought Four Feet, Two Sandals, Louisa couldn't stop reading it. I think she related to the girls—they were about her age and looked quite like her too. It’s a very touching story.