Like many of us, you’ve probably spent more time watching TV in the last few months than you typically do. When you’re tired of Disney and tiger “sanctuaries,” here are a few lesser-known documentaries worth checking out. These are all on Netflix, mostly family-friendly, and great for older kids too.
For some “I Can Do Anything” inspiration, check out Bethany Hamilton‘s Unstoppable (not to be confused with Soul Surfer). Bethany got her arm bit off by a shark while surfing at just 13 and went on to place at worldwide competitions. My five-year-old daughter has this on repeat and I’m pretty sure she thinks Hamilton is a mermaid.
I Am Bolt
Usain Bolt is extraordinary. Not only is he literally the fastest man on earth, but he also seems like someone you’d just like to hang out with. This story of his journey to the 2016 Olympics will keep your attention whether you are into athletics or not (Note: Early on, there are some dancing and partying activities that may not be appropriate for younger kids. Just fast forward a bit, there’s nothing else in the rest of the show).
A Year in Space
Scott Kelly shares his story of being on the International Space Station for a year. Not only do you get an insight into an astronaut’s life, but you get a glimpse of how being in space affected his body as NASA compared effects to his identical twin brother Mark. Mark is also a retired astronaut and husband to mass shooting victim and congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. These short episodes of 12-15 minutes are great for when you don’t have time for a full-on Netflix binge.
For you conspiracy theorists, you’ll love this one! Not all of them appropriate for all ages. (There’s one about the Playboy Mansion.) But if you can get past the cheesy narrator’s voice, they’re pretty interesting. I found the “Presidential Transports” episode especially interesting.
National Parks Adventure
Speaking of the narrator’s voice, Robert Redford narrates this documentary and his calming voice adds to the beautiful landscapes you’ll see in America’s national parks. The scenery is worth it alone, but you’ll also get some views of New Mexico. What’s great about this one is the action. It’s not just about the parks but that it includes some outdoor activities/sports.
Inside Bill’s Brain
While it’s amazing to see how this genius thinks and get a look inside his brain, what will keep your attention more is the projects he’s working on. Sanitation and environmental issues that you probably didn’t even know existed, and the incredible teams of engineers and scientists he puts together to help solve a problem. This one may not hold the attention of little ones, but could be very inspiring to older ones.
Inquiring minds want to know! What Netflix documentaries do you recommend?
Originally published November 2020