A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Mention of Bible story Joseph and his coat of many colors. Some period and rural details pictured in art such as teacher ringing large school bell, box radio, lanterns, butter churn.
Families that have little money can be rich in love. Family love and support can buoy us. Parental love is a strong anchor. When bullied or ridiculed, kids can still maintain dignity. Families without means can be resourceful. Wearing used or patched clothing isn't shameful.
Positive Role Models
Though the girl's ridiculed by her classmates for her coat made of rags, she explains that she's proud of it because her mother stitched it with love and remains steadfastly proud of her family.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Coat of Many Colors is a picture book illustrating the lyrics of country music star Dolly Parton's 1971 hit song of the same name. The song tells a story from Dolly's hardscrabble Tennessee mountain childhood. When she didn't have a coat, her mom sewed her one out of rags, and kids at school ridiculed her. The lyrics reference the Old Testament Bible story about Joseph and his coat of many colors, emphasize the healing love of family, and can supplement lessons at home about bullying and developing empathy for others. In May 2016, a biographical movie named Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors was released on DVD and streaming. Families can also get a downloadable song about bullying and self-esteem for free from Parton's charitable foundation website, though it's not this particular song.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.