Lessons from The Greatest Showman, According to a 3rd Grader

Last weekend, my family went to see The Greatest Showman, and we all loved it. (I can’t believe I’m typing this, but my kids enjoyed it even more than – gasp! – Star Wars: The Last Jedi.) If you’re looking for a film that accurately depicts the life of circus founder P.T. Barnum, this isn’t it. But if you appreciate catchy music and an entertaining story that offers upbeat and positive messages to kids and adults alike, The Greatest Showman does not disappoint.

I was curious what kids would find most compelling about the film, so I asked my eight-year-old daughter what she thought were the most important lessons from the movie. Her responses are in quotes below.

1. “Follow your dreams.” It’s inspiring to watch P.T. Barnum evolve from an imaginative young boy with a dream to a risk-taking entrepreneur with a knack for captivating crowds. Barnum faces plenty of obstacles in pursuing his dream, notably limited financial resources and little social capital, but he perseveres and follows his passion.

2. “Don’t be selfish.” There’s a point in Barnum’s journey when he loses sight of the people who made his dream possible: his family and all of the performers who agreed to join his risky venture. In the movie, Barnum sings about being “blinded by the light,” or being so focused on achieving more fame and prestige that he forgets “who all this was for.” Ultimately, this behavior has negative consequences.

3. “You have to show yourself to the world, and appreciate who you are.” I wasn’t surprised when my daughter said her favorite song from the movie is “This Is Me.” The song’s powerful message, carried by Keala Settle’s amazing vocals, has resonated with so many of us. I can’t think of a better anthem for young people today: that they are exactly who they are meant to be and can be proud to show themselves to the world.

Overall, this was a fantastic movie that I’d see again in a heartbeat – and I know my kids would agree!

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