For any Star Wars fan who is also a parent, there comes a point in time where you start wondering when you should introduce your favorite franchise to your kids. It may seem like a simple thing to do: just show them the movies when they are old enough. However, there are several important question to ask before you start off on this endeavor. They are:
In my family, the appreciation for Star Wars starts at an early age.
What exact age do you introduce the franchise?
You want your kid to have a great first Star Wars experience that they can remember. It will be a very special moment for both of you. I vividly remember the first time that I watched Star Wars with my dad. We knocked out all three original movies in a row. This was at a time when I had no idea there were more movies as I watched Episode IV. It is important to me that my daughter have a similar experience. However, if I go too young, she may not remember it later on. If I go too old (like teen years), the magic and wonder might be gone in place of focusing on teen stuff instead. It’s a delicate balancing act that one must carefully consider as a parent.
Which set of movies first?
This is another difficult dilemma. Do you go in chronological order? Do you go with the release date timeline, so that the child sees the movies in the order that most of us did (original trilogy, prequels, and the newest edition)? I have even see some parents taking their children to see Episode VII with no prior background to the Star Wars franchise. Where and when do you throw in the Clone Wars cartoons as well? I know that there are some very strong opinions on this, so I dare not say which is the correct way. It is something, however, that one must think about beforehand.
Special Edition or original theatrical release?
Regardless of what order movies you show your child, you will have to decide what version of the original trilogy you want to show first. I think it would be beneficial for a child to see both versions. There are actually people out in the world right now who have never seen the original release versions (how sad!). However, there is the dilemma on which to show first. The original theatrical release is available on certain Limited Edition sets along with the Special Edition, so if you don’t have it already, the originals can be found still. Then you will have to decide: do you start your child off with the purest original release version with the very dated special effects or do you start with the Special Edition with the cheesy late ’90s CGI? It’s a very tough call, especially if you prefer Han shooting first (actually, technically, didn’t he only shoot once?).
Does the child read the now “non-cannon” books before or after the new movies?
For die hard Star Wars fans, the many book series that have come out are to be treasured and respected. Technically, they aren’t cannon anymore (boo!!!!), but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be read. I like to think of the new movies and the books as parallel universes where different choices were made that altered the course of galactic history. Maybe Luke stepped on a butterfly or something (tee-hee)? Or there was a quantum something something (insert smart-sounding science stuff). Regardless of how you rationalize it, the books are still there, and most are quite good. Of course, depending on the age of the child and his or her reading level, the books might not be an option. You could always read them to your kid. Or, you could wait until they are older and have them read the books after the newer movies. The last option is skipping the books entirely because that’s a ton of reading and not everyone likes to read that much. Of course, the English teacher in me says, “Too bad. Reading is good for you. Now read those freaking Star Wars books now!” Just saying.
Do I pretend that Episodes I through III just don’t exist?
It’s the dark thought that has crossed my mind for awhile now. Why can’t I just pretend that the prequels weren’t ever made? I could spare my daughter from the abomination that is Jar Jar Binks. She wouldn’t have to go through the bad dialogue, stiff acting, and overly-used special effects. Even skipping just Episode I would be a blessing. Then again, if I had to suffer through them, then so can she! It can be a bonding moment as we share our disgust for a set of movies that could have been so much more.
In closing, I don’t think it matters how you proceed with introducing Star Wars to your child. There is no right or wrong way. Your child might not even like Star Wars, and that’s something that you may have to accept. The important thing is that it’s a bonding experience: time with you that you both will always look fondly upon.