American Girl Dolls, A Historical Toy

April 10, 2011 in American literature, children's literature, Pop Culture

Book Cover by Janet Shaw © 1986, Courtesy of American Girl

American Girl Dolls is a little girl phenomenon.  The dolls are not of my generation, so I never played with them; however, the generation after me has fond memories of American Girl.  (I’m from the Cabbage Patch Kid generation.)  I found out about the dolls last Christmas when my fiance’s little cousins were playing with them.  They showed me the books that come with each doll.  I was shocked to see that one doll, Molly, was growing up in World War II.  Kit was another doll in crisis; she watches her father lose his job during the Great Depression and she must save the family’s home.  These are pretty heavy subjects for little girls.  I remember playing in a worry-less wonderland with my vapid Barbies.

I like that these dolls have a back story and that children are encouraged to read and learn about history.  I find it even more fascinating in this world of the Wii, X-box, Internet and a thousand channels of brain-rotting TV, the dolls seem to be thriving.  Writer Katy Kelleher reminisces about her childhood with her American Girl Doll named Kirsten in our latest feature article: Of Dreams and Dolls: American Girls and the Spirit of Exploration.


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