A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The act of opening a library for children involves having empathy and compassion. Reading can positively grow curiosity and communication skills.
Positive Role Models
Parton's empathy and compassion for children inspired her to open the Imagination Library, which helps children gain a love for reading. Children who are enrolled in the program develop their curiosity and communication skills at higher levels than children who aren't in the program.
Minimal racial diversity. Images of diverse children and an interview with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who is Black. Scenes with blind, visually impaired, and disabled people (including a child reading a book in braille) highlight how Parton's program helps a wide variety of kids. Parton herself is a strong, determined woman with agency and influence.
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Violence & Scariness
Images from the 2016 Smoky Mountains forest fires.
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"Dumb" in song lyrics.
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of Dollywood; Parton herself is a brand, and the movie definitely promotes her work.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Library That Dolly Built is a documentary about entertainer Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a program that sends U.S. and international children books between birth and age 5. The film has virtually no iffy content ("dumb" pops up in song lyrics, and there are images from a wildfire) and positively and enthusiastically highlights Parton's love for children and learning. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This gentle, sweet documentary is likely to make Parton's many fans love her even more than before. The Library That Dolly Built showcases how Tennessee native Parton's upbringing influenced her decision to create the Imagination Library. The film offers viewers insight into the intersection between Parton's music career and her philanthropy, showing how, for her, giving back comes in many forms.
This is a quick watch, but it gets the job done by driving home the point about Parton's love for children and literacy. If you didn't grow up in or near a city that had an Imagination Library chapter, you'll probably end up wishing you had. Reading can be a special, exciting, fulfilling pastime, and The Library That Dolly Built brings those feelings to life with Parton's brand of effervescent charm.
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.