Parents' Guide to

An American Girl Story - Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Indomitable girl speaks up for civil rights in sweet story.

Movie NR 2016 48 minutes
An American Girl Story - Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 12+

To mature for the targeted age group of elementary school kids.

I personally do not feel like anyone under 12 should be watching this movie! We thought American Girl was something we did not have to worry about our granddaughter watching and us watching over top of her but we were wrong with this one! It is very true to history and is a great movie for older kids to understand the Civil Rights Movement, but elementary kids have no business seeing or hearing about the bombing of a church! These kids are hearing of their schools being shot up they last place they need to fear on top of school is church. Also while watching this our 5 year old granddaughter thought the black people were in the wrong because the police were arresting them and coming after them, we had to explain the police were in the wrong. These are just a few things that stuck out. Elementary school kids do not have the culpable mental state to decipher exactly what is going on in this show, who is in the wrong and who is in the right or if they are going to be safe going to church, this was a bad choice for AG since there targeted a get pretty much stops at 10 or 11 with kids these days. This movie is perfect for a history teacher trying to get older kids talking.
age 7+

Good movie as a standalone but nothing like the book

We watched the movie before we read the book. It does a really good job of showing racism and the Birmingham bombing in a way that children can process. We loved the strong girl character who has curiosity and intelligence but is not the like the rest. The white teacher is an interesting choice, she is not a hero but tries to do the right thing tho is not entirely successful. Having said all that, we then moved to the book which is wonderful and NOTHING like the movie. They got rid of most of the family including the father. The book takes a long time to develop the relationships within the family and the community. The only time white people are present are when members of the family have to leave their community and experience the racism that was prevalent. Almost no time is given to white people in the book including the school and that is how it should be. This makes me question the choice of the white teacher and children even more in the movie. They also highlighted Melody's mother more in the movie over Melody's personal struggle as does the book. I agree with other reviewers that this should have had a different name because it does not reflect the book at all which is a shame.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (6):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This movie is a heartwarming story of perseverance and faith in the face of a struggle for basic human rights. An American Girl Story – Melody, 1963: Love Has to Win opens with a carefree Melody happily considering a limitless future before small doses of reality set in and she starts to see her situation in another light. From small injustices such as classmates shunning her to larger ones such as being falsely accused of wrongdoing, Melody begins to fear that she will be defined by her skin color rather than by her potential. As she adds her voice to a generation calling for change, she helps inspire those around her to do the same.

This lovely story has moments that feel too rushed and some characters who could have used further development, especially in the case of Melody's intriguing teacher, Miss Abbot (Frances Fisher). Even so, it does a brilliant job of putting the sensitive and complex issue of the civil rights movement into context kids will understand. And as role models go, it's hard to top intuitive, indomitable Melody, whose optimism helps inspire and change the minds of those around her.

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