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The Rag Coat

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  1,262 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
With paintings that capture all the beauty of Appalachia in authentic detail, this tender story about a resourceful mountain girl's special coat will touchreaders with its affirming message of love and friendship.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 3rd 1991 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Oct 07, 2014 GoldGato rated it really liked it
They all wore black, black like the coal mines that killed my papa. He didn't even like black. He liked all the bright colors of the day.

This is a lovely book. I prefer children's books with natural illustrations, so this is near perfect for me. Lauren Mills provides an engaging narrative along with her softly-lit drawings to make this a worthwhile read for parents and tykes. In a world of children-as-bullies, this is also a good lesson to show kids that they don't need to conform to fit in, tha
Dec 29, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it
3.5 Lovely illustrations and a pleasant story that is perhaps a bit too predictable and "full of heart" for its own good about a poor girl whose family cannot afford to buy her a coat--thus, she cannot go to school in the winter--and the kind women who eventually make her a quilted coat of scraps. She can go to school but, oh, do the children tease her about that coat! I should probably note that if I was a fan of Appalachian stuff I would likely have bumped this up a star but I've never been to ...more
Feb 04, 2017 Magen rated it really liked it
This book was great because it can be used to really teach children to not pick on others and to be thankful for what they have. I would use this book as a good book to teach a lesson on how to treat others.
Laura Verret
Jan 05, 2014 Laura Verret rated it really liked it
Minna desperately wants to go to school. But she knows Mama needs her help around the house taking care of her younger siblings, and she doesn’t want to leave Mama without a helper. And besides that, with her father sick with the miner’s cough, there isn’t enough money to buy a new coat for Minna, and she couldn’t go to school without a coat.

Suddenly, Minna’s father dies. Mama gives Minna permission to go to school, but she decides not to – she would only have to stop once the weather turned col
Dec 21, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
After Minna’s father dies from working in the coal mine, there is no money to buy her a coat so she can go to school. Her mother’s sewing group all work together to create a colorful coat for her out of rags and scraps and when Minna proudly wears it to school, she is mocked. But Minna has the last word in the end, showing the other children pieces of their past. Illustrated by the author.

This is a touching story set in Appalachia with beautiful watercolor illustrations. Empty spaces on the page
Aug 10, 2011 Emilymenz rated it really liked it
This book has beautiful illustrations and a touching message. Even as an adult, I'm constantly reminding myself that "people only need people, nothing else." This is a hard thing to remember as life with people can be messy and at times unpleasant. But I truly believe that getting involved in the lives of others is the best way we can spend our time on earth.
Jan 05, 2010 Miriam rated it liked it
Recommended to Miriam by: Abigail
Shelves: picture
This looks like an adaptation of the song "Coat of Many Colors."
Rosa Cline
Jan 19, 2014 Rosa Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, winter
This book is a well written and illustrated story of a little very poor girl from the Appalachian area. Her Daddy worked in the coal mines and thus ended up getting very sick and eventually did pass away. She was only 7 when he died but while he was sick she wasn't able to go to school due to not having warm clothes and she had to stay home and help her Mother with carding wool so her Mom could make quilts to sell. She also helped care for her younger brother so her Momma could quilt from sunup ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Jaleesa rated it really liked it
The Rag Coat is about a young girl named Minna who wants to go to school. Although she’s old enough to attend school, she was needed at home to assist her mom with quilt making. Her dad was a coal miner and died from work related illnesses. Minna is ready to start school but with the recent death of her father, and not having a coat, she isn’t able to attend. A group of Quilting Mothers, who gather at Minna’s house daily, offered to make her a winter coat from scrap materials. Minna chose warm c ...more
Rachel Friel
Feb 08, 2016 Rachel Friel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
This book tells a heartwarming story about a little school girl and her community. The young girl has been through many hardships and comes from a family rich with love but poor in terms of money. Her community comes together to help her and provide her with a generous gift, however her classmates make fun of her for it. The story shows the little girls strength and courage and will make everybody smile. We can learn from her how to overcome bullies and bring the community together.
I would use
Kim Bitner
Oct 02, 2016 Kim Bitner rated it really liked it
Shelves: five-in-a-row
While this story is set in a foreign time and place, the characters are easily relatable. It's not hard to put oneself in Minna's shoes as she goes to school and struggles to make friends, and anticipates sharing something special with others only to be sorely misunderstood. Her gentle spirit as she chooses forgiveness rather than bitterness is a quiet lesson to readers; without being preachy, the author shows us the value of forgiveness in the face of pain. Minna experiences so much loss, but s ...more
May 27, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it
This one may be a little too advanced/serious for my 4 yr old. Will save for next summer?

Picture Book Activities
Day 1: ask questions and learn How to Make a Happy Day rhyme and sing Clementine
Day 2: find Appalachian Mountains on map, jump rope rhymes
Day 3: Sewing practice? Rag Coat Collage?
Day 4: look at Nana's quilt calendars/books (hopefully find Joseph's Coat of Many Colors pattern) and read about Joseph and his brothers in Genesis
Day 5: sharing with those in need- food pantry, personal needs
Dec 05, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's so precious! Spoiler: When I read the dad ended up dying I was so sad! I half expected it, but also kind of not and hoped he would have gotten better. It's a lovely story and the illustrations were wonderful. I enjoyed it. I also liked how one of the children that made fun of Minna ended up telling the teacher the truth herself instead of Minna telling the teacher what really happened.
Linda Lipko
Jan 09, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
Minna is a child of poverty. Living in Appalachia, when her father dies as a result of working in the mines, life is even more difficult. Minna longs to attend school, but does not have a winter coat to protect her from the cold.

When her mother's friends from a quilting society, gather their unused scraps of material, a beautiful coat of many colors is sewn for Minna.

Happy to attend school, Minna discovers that her rag coat is an object for bullying. Trying to fit in, Minna turns the table and p
Apr 07, 2016 R rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing read- definitely a re-read. It tells the story of a girl whose father dies and she doesn't go to school for a while. When she does she is an outcast. I loved how I could connect with her. It showed the importance of family and the importance of accepting each other. I actually read this with my sister and I cried. It touches the heart because everyone can connect with losing family in one way or another. If not, they can at least sympathize with her. The rag coat was a beauti ...more
Rhonda K
Jun 18, 2015 Rhonda K rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, kids
This is an older picture book but we loved it as much as some of the newer titles we have brought home. It tells a sweet story of a young girl in an Appalachian setting who can't go to school because she hasn't got a coat to keep her warm in the winters. Instead she stays at home to help her Ma and Pa, especially Ma who needs help with the cloth scraps to make into quilt pieces. My 6 y.o. boy stayed engaged through the whole story, and was interested in the pictures showing boys and girls from a ...more
Apr 17, 2009 Cindi rated it really liked it
Minna doesn't have a coat, but she has one of her mother's quilts and she has her father. When Minna's father can't mine any more because of miner's cough, Minna must stay to help her mother quilt to make money for the family. Just before Minna's father dies, he tells her that it's time for her to go to school, but Minna was worried because she doesn't have a coat. The story goes on to tell of how Minna got her coat. It's a book about family, community, quilting, acceptance and the stories that ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Irina rated it really liked it
This book is about a little girl who cannot go to school, because she doesn't have a coat to wear in the cold weather. When some ladies make her a coat out of old scraps, she is made fun of at school. Little did the other children know, the scraps were full of their memories, and they realize how special her rag coat is. I thought this book was very inspirational, teaching students not to judge so quickly and to see the beauty in things that they may have not considered beautiful.
Alison Durbin
Jan 18, 2015 Alison Durbin rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of my favorite books from my childhood, and I was elated that I happened upon it in my school's library. This book, though it takes place in a much earlier time, can resonate with children of today. It is a story of love and friendship that truly touches the heart. The beautiful illustrations add to the heart-warming tale. Add this to the list of books that I will purchase for my future classroom library!
Margaret Chind
Oct 10, 2014 Margaret Chind rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, georgia
Absolutely beautiful. The story, the illustration, all of it is just beautiful. Being a southern girl from just below the North Georgia Smokey Mountains a story like this resignates with my ancestral history and gives me another reason to love it. Definitely on my to-buy wishlist. This will be a great addition to the history section to study earlier Americans, yet it could also span cultures with similarity.
Kyle Baldwin
Nov 15, 2011 Kyle Baldwin rated it really liked it
An excellent book that shows a girl who must deal with the death of her father. Since he dies and was the bread winner for the family, she does not have a coat to wear to school. Her mother's friends team up to sew her a coat. When she wears the coat she is teased because of the patchwork, but the patches all reveal something about her classmates. A good book to discourage bullying by showing that we all have something in common or can learn fronm one another.
Nov 10, 2014 Clara rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
The girl in this book comes from a family that can't even buy here a coat. The coat she gets, so she can go to school is made by all the neighborhood women out of scraps. The children at her school judge her coat harshly but then learn that the coat was made with love and includes a story about them. Very sweet and touching and a lovely book about being careful to about judging others.
Cindi P.
Aug 20, 2013 Cindi P. rated it really liked it
Warmly told and illustrated, this story is engaging and insightful. It provides a closer look at the life of a family in a simple mountain community, inspired by the Appalachian region in the United States. A perceptive perspective on gratitude, too, and a character who responds to bullying. I enjoyed it.
Jul 19, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book! This would be a great story to read before a lesson on economics and the effect community and friendship have on everyone, rich or poor. The illustrations are wonderful and the story is very touching- this would be good to read in a Literacy Circle by having the students make connections between the book and what they've been studying.
Cassi Dick
Apr 29, 2013 Cassi Dick rated it really liked it
This is a great book about a little girl who is poor and doesn't have a coat to wear to school. She gets one made for me of little pieces of material and when she arrives at school she is teased. Once the children realize that this jacket is filled with her memories she gets the las laugh. This would be a good book for 3-4 grade.
Scott Hayden
Mar 11, 2014 Scott Hayden rated it it was amazing
In a coal mining town Minna wants to go to school, but without a coat, why start something she would have to quit when the weather turned cold? In a remedy reminiscent of "Stone Soup", Minna gets what she wants - only to face schoolyard ridicule. After thoughtful time in the woods, she returns to school with a surprise that brings everyone together.
Sung Baick
Feb 17, 2011 Sung Baick rated it it was amazing
This is a great story about a girl who receives a rag coat made of all sorts of different fabrics from different people. This would be a great book to use for inferring and predictions. It's lengthy but can be split into two days for the younger elementary grade levels. The storyline is easy to understand and it would be great for any elementary grade.
Steve Boman
This is a warm (no pun intended!) story of people - that is, "people only need people, and nothing else." Even bullying rears its ugly head in this tale, but we can use it to stress to our children the idea that we all need to come together and help each other, not alienate those who may be different.
Alison Tripp
Oct 06, 2011 Alison Tripp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: friends
This was one of my favorite books as a child. It always made me cry. The story is long and sad but the little girl is so strong and nice. She is bullied in the book and she almost goes home but she turns around and faces her peers. She tells them all about her coat and I think this book really explains to children that you never know what somebody is going or has been through.
Queen Bee
Nov 17, 2011 Queen Bee rated it it was amazing
I read this book to my children as part of a homeschool unit on the history of coal mining in the USA. I had to stop and gather myself a number of times as I read aloud to them. At times I could barely speak as I choked-up. I hadn't pre-read it and so had no idea how touching the story is. A treasure!!
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