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Kids’ Picks:: All Things American Girl

I have a confession to make.  As soon as the American Girl catalog enters our house (and I peek at it first 😉 –How did they get our address?), I toss it into the trash.  Our girls have way too much stuff.  Way too much.  (In our defense, most of the stuff we don’t buy.  We don’t have to. Other people do it for us.)  I’ve tried to keep this particular overpriced obsession out of the realm of possibilities for our girls.  They did receive little miniature Rebeccas and accompanying Rebecca story collections for Christmas this past year, but other than that and a few kids’ meal “freebies” (yes, I know we’re paying for them), I’ve been successful at keeping our home American Girl-free.

Until now.

It all started with the Josefina story collection in audiobook.  They listened to it (and loved it) several months ago, and then I was able to capture their attention with other audiobook choices for quite a while.  Then Louise spied the Molly story collection  on the audiobook shelves at the library, so we brought it home and the girls listened to the whole collection several times.   Both of these audiobooks went with us on our recent trip, and Steady Eddie and I were ready to listen to anything but Josefina before the trip was over.  😉 Our last trip to the library yielded both Rebecca  and Kit  in audio. 

Honestly, I don’t enjoy listening to the stories.  I find neither the writing nor the narration of the audibooks terribly engaging (patronizing would be a better description, actually), but the girls love them.  They actually wake up in the morning and immediately turn on the CD player, sometimes picking up where they left off the night before (if they went to sleep before the story finished).  At rest time, they listen to another one; they take turns choosing whose story they will listen to this time.   Most nights, it’s another girl and another story.  While I would really prefer their obsession to run in a more literary direction, I remember one of my own many childhood and young adult obsessions, and I don’t think it ruined me as a reader.  The tide will turn, and it will be back to Little House or Charlotte’s Web or even Little Women, which Lulu listened to about a third of before I thought–What will she (and I!?!?) do when Beth dies?–and managed to take it back to the library unfinished.  Until then, they’re learning about the immigrant experience, life in New Mexico in the early 1800s, World War II, the Great Depression, as well as making lots of side jaunts into popular culture.  I think I can live with that.   

(The girls just got up from rest time as I am finishing this post, and now they are under the art table in the school room because “we’re having a blackout.”  The girl of choice for today’s rest time was Molly, whose childhood is permeated by World War II.)

For more Kids’ Picks, check out 5 Minutes for Books!

9 Responses

  1. We got our first AG doll this year for Christmas (for N2 … and the grandparents bought it) and I have to say that I have been super impressed with the doll. We have several other babies that they play with and the AG doll is just made better. We haven’t gotten into the books yet … your posts always remind me that I want to (someday) get a little CD player for their room. The only problem is I’m not sure where I would put it or plug it in!

  2. I’m not quite as hardcore as I seem–if someone bought them an AG doll (which is more likely to happen than not, once Nana grasps the idea 😉 ), I’d be happy to welcome a couple into our home. I just can’t stomach the thought of paying as much for an doll outfit as I sometimes pay for theirs.

    I think the stories do have value, though I find the writing less than stellar. Obviously my girls have picked up a good bit of history.


  3. At your girls’ ages, I’d toss that catalog too LOL!!

    My girlie, now 14, loved the American Girl books–however ‘light’ many folks think they are, they really did jump start an interest in different historical times for Meghan. She also liked the movies.
    We did get her a bona fide American Girl doll the year she was 9–she still has her Kaya and accoutrements in her room. I think it was over a couple of years that she asked for accessories n got them for various holidays.
    And btw, clothes can be found anywhere, any outfits that fit that size doll…so buying the bona fide American Girl doll doesn’t mean you’re stuck buying the other stuff, as well 🙂


  4. SO many happy memories. If I ever have a girl, I AM going to revel in this series. I SO wanted to Kirsten growing up. Your post made me hop over to the site and WHAT?! YOU CAN’T BUY KIRSTEN ANYMORE!?!?!? OR SAMANTHA!?!?! WHAT *IS* THIS?!

    See, I was just getting out of the AG scene right about the time Felicity entered in.I am unfamiliar with any of these new faces (although I did watch the Kit movie). Kirsten was always my very favorite but Molly ran a close second. I have to say I’m rather horribly tempted to buy myself a Molly doll before SHE’S retired too! Just in case. ;D

  5. I love the American Girls books. I agree that they are fairly simple, but they do present history in a really engaging way for the kiddos.

  6. Being a history teacher, I have been waiting since our daughters were tiny to begin reading the AG series to them. Last fall, my daughter (5) picked out the Kaya books when I showed the series to her at the library.

    I had never read one and imagined that the writing would be rich and lyrical but I was disappointed. Like you said, the writing is just not quality. We finally finished the Kaya series and my daughter is hoping for Josefina next.

    I totally value the historical knowledge in the books — they just aren’t fun read alouds to me. Our library doesn’t have them in audio. (Maybe we’ll wait until they can read the books themselves 🙂

    I do like the books that go along with each girl that are filled with historical info (ex — Molly’s World, Felicity’s World) and I like the Kit movie. I just wish the writing was more captivating. In the end, I think it’s fine to sometimes read books that just aren’t high quality literature. It’s like junk food — sometimes it just satisfies a short-term craving.

  7. American Girls are dangerous aren’t they. But at least they are reading/listening.

    Here is mine

  8. Absolutely! I loved American Girl as a well um… girl! 🙂

  9. My dd (10) is the same way about the AG books. She has listened to and read almost all of the stories. She also listens to them over and over. She saved up her money for Samantha and has received Felicity and Rebecca as gifts.

    On a funny note, my dd (almost 2) loves the AG dolls. We let her play with an AG type doll, but when she spots her sister’s AG doll she drops it and goes for the real thing!

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