The words “American Girl” used to strike fear in my heart. For a long time, American Girl meant overpriced dolls with overpriced accessories. If your child is a big doll aficionado, perhaps the cost could be justified, but I knew early on that this was not the case with my girls. Neither ever had a particular “lovey” so there was no way that I would spend $100 on a doll with the expectation of buying extras to go with it.
Then last Hanukkah J got her first American Girl book – Meet Rebecca. While she was able to read this book at 5 1/2, she wasn’t enticed by the story enough to read more. Recently, however, we have rediscovered these books and J has read the few that her first grade teacher has in the class. We have moved on to the books at the local library, and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with these books.
So far we have only read the historical books in the series. I see them as a great way to introduce kids to different parts of American history through various lenses. For example, the Rebecca series are about a little Jewish girl living in New York City in 1914 and shows the plight of immigrants struggling to maintain their traditions and get by in the new world. As a different illustration, Kit is a little girl living in Ohio in 1932 who shows the struggle of her father losing his job due to the Depression and how that impacts her entire family.
What is wonderful about these books is that they show social history (a favorite of mine) and encourage young girls to think outside of their everyday world and especially out of the magical worlds of fairies and princesses. When J was reading Meet Kit she was asking me things from “what is a typewriter?” to “what was the Great Depression?” From what I can tell, these books feature strong girls who use strength and intelligence to get through various difficult situations. This is a series that would also be really good as a read aloud bedtime book since there are so many great opportunities for questions.
This morning we read a chapter from Kit’s Surprise and it was great to hear J so excited. She learned who Amelia Earhart was and had to ask for help on a number of new words. We had to discuss why people got evicted from their homes and why Kit’s family took in boarders. All of this happened while reading about a little girl who dreams of being brave like Amelia Earhart instead of yearning to be a movie star which is her best friend’s dream.
I’m still going to keep my girls as far away from the American Girls Store as possible, but they can definitely read these books.