Parents' Guide to

Coat of Many Colors

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Lyrics of inspirational Dolly Parton song address bullying.

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Fans of country music and Dolly Parton will love this book based on her famous song that directly addresses issues of poverty and bullying and emphasizes the richness of family love. The song "Coat of Many Colors," written by Parton about her rural Tennessee childhood, was first released in 1971, but the problems it addresses are just as relevant today. The text, which might be made even more memorable for kids by pairing it with the song, can support important lessons about empathy vs. making fun of others.

The soft watercolor illustrations by Brooke Boynton-Hughes are warm and appealing and convincingly portray a tight, loving family, though the house looks more like a well-appointed country house than the one-room cabin in rural Appalachia where Parton's impoverished parents raised 12 children. Still, the homey touches can help young readers concretely picture the family's love. The classmates and neighbors include kids of color, an idealized portrayal of the rural Tennessee schoolhouse of Parton's childhood, though it makes Coat of Many Colors more relatable for readers today and models integration and inclusion.

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