Thursday, September 17, 2015

When to Introduce Star Wars to Your Child

If there is one thing that I have loved for most of my life, it's Star Wars. The story, the planets, the crazy alien races - they all culminate into a living, breathing world that I have absolutely adored since I was younger. It went without question that I would introduce Star Wars to my child eventually, but at what age? That seems to be the question a lot of parents are asking nowadays, especially with the new film right around the corner. There are a ton of different answers out there, but I wanted to explain why I think any age is appropriate to introduce your child to Star Wars.

All of the Star Wars films are rated PG (except episode 3, that one received a PG-13), so at face value you know that all of the movies except 3 can be viewed by children of all ages, but some scenes may be a little much for the younger viewers. In a recent discussion I had on a Dad Blogger group I belong to, it seemed the average age reported to show Star Wars to your children was about 4 years old. For what it's worth, Jack sort of watched the movies with us and he is 22 months old right now. He didn't understand what was going on and primarily yelled out his favorite character's names (CHEWBACCA! JAR JAR BINKIE!) but he had a good time nonetheless and it allowed me to show the original movies to my wife (who hadn't watched them before - crazy, right?) Was he too young to watch the films? To understand them, absolutely. He doesn't know what the Force is or the complexities of Anakin's transformation to the dark side and subsequent redemption. But what he did see were characters that he has grown to love from stories and other forms of media that truly make this fandom one that is absolutely suited for kids of all ages.
A young Sith in training

Jack's introduction to Star Wars began when he was still in the womb. My wife and I agreed on a Star Wars Nursery for our son and I think it turned out great. Jack would look at the characters on his wall and eventually learned the names of all of the characters in his room. Through books aimed at young children like the Star Wars ABC and 123 books, he also put names to faces and was able to learn about the world's mysterious residents while also learning his numbers and alphabet. To Jack, Star Wars isn't a big sprawling world of political intrigue and religious zealotry, it's a collection of colorful characters that look funny and have funnier names. It's something he sees his dad play from time to time on the computer (Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO) and recognizes it from his books. We could have bought a ton of Mickey books or something similar and have the same result in learning with a theme, with Star Wars we can at least do something that is near and dear to our nerdy hearts.

Video games are another avenue that allow kids to experience Star Wars outside of the movies. With the recent release of Disney Infinity 3.0, Star Wars figures are now available and playable in game. If you aren't familiar with Infinity, it's basically Disney's toys to life game where you place figures you buy physically on a device and then play with those figures digital representation in the game. New Star Wars worlds exist that allow kids of all ages (adults included) to enjoy stories in their favorite universes. The game is also a great introduction for kids who are old enough to play video games to transition to the cartoon shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels as side stories that are easily enjoyed by the whole family (Clone Wars is really good!)

The new Star Wars Golden Books

Star Wars is a huge part of pop culture and it's only going to get bigger with the start of the newest trilogy of films releasing this December. Star Wars is a very family friendly world that can be enjoyed by all ages, even if with the younger fans we have to get a bit creative. A new Golden Books series recently released as well that tells the original two trilogy stories with some nice pictures that I plan on picking up for my son very soon. With all of the ways Star Wars blends into pop culture and other forms of media, there is no set age that is required to introduce your little one to the wonderful world of Star Wars. If you enjoy Star Wars, and you hope your little one will to, feel free to read them age appropriate stories or watch cartoons together that will not only introduce them to the world of Star Wars, but also form a closer bond between you and your child as you experience something that you both enjoy.

A Jedi Master and his Padawan

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