american girl doll books - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 03-05-2010, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
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X-posted in books:

My almost 6 year old has just started getting in the American Girl Doll books, and I find myself startled by some of them. We recently started reading the first Addy book together, but stopped at my daughter's request. She didn't like the violence, the suspense and the terrifying content. I was glad because I found the book much to scarey for my tender daughter, and because I found it weirdly racist. The attempts at dialect were bizzare.

Tonight we started the first Kaya book and again I found it troubling. The children are hit with switches in the third chapter. My daughter and I talked a lot about discipline and how different cultures handle teaching children, but we were both still sad and troubled. Again,I was left with a feeling that these are written from such a white perspective--as if they are a white person's fantasy of Native American life--they need to be discussed more as artifacts of racism than as stories themselves. All a bit too much for a 6 year old.

Anyway, I'm hoping to hear the thoughts of others whose children have encoutered these books. The dolls themselves also bring up issues for me--they are wonderful, beautiful playthings on the one hand--an improvement over barbie X10--but the dolls also bring out the mose acquisitive instincts in both my daughter, me and my mom.

What do you think?

Happy mom to DS2000, DS2002, DD2004, DS2006 and DS 10/2009:
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#2 of 13 Old 03-06-2010, 12:03 AM
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My dd started the Kaya and Kit books just after she turned six, but she wasn't able to handle the violence in Kaya or the worry about poverty in Kit. When she turned seven she reading them with her grandma again and loved them and was able to see them as historical fiction. She told me that the violence was part of life in the old days and that I shouldn't worry because the books are fiction. I read her the books now and if I say to much about the violence she will say "OHHHH Mama" and roll her eyes dramatically. I think that the ability to hear books that aren't as sheltered with their content comes at different stages for each child and it is good to go with your child's cues. It has never been my plan to insist that my dd only read happy books with no suspense, but I also won't push the books on her.These books are targeted a for kids seven and up. I don't think it is horrible for books like this to use historical information, to include some violence and scariness, or to try to capture accents.

As for the dolls, I think it is fine to have something that you want to acquire. I do think parent should be careful not to overload their kids with material things as they go through their phases of wanting things. I also won't buy from the actual company again, but if my dd is going to get a doll I will make it as close to one that she wants to have as I can.
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#3 of 13 Old 03-06-2010, 08:01 AM
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I've read one American Girl book to my 6 year old. We'd tried it at 5 and she wasn't interested but enjoyed it this time. She seemed less upset about the best friend dying than I was. There was no violence in the book we read.

I think the dolls are pretty, but I have always felt them to be somewhat classist due to the price. I have little intention to seek the books out but if I happen across some in the thrift store again I may check them out.
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#4 of 13 Old 03-06-2010, 04:04 PM
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While the age range for American Girl Dolls and their books have slipped significantly since their inception, I think it's a good idea to remember that their original target age (and still the target age of the books) was actually 8-13.



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#5 of 13 Old 03-06-2010, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TiredX2 View Post
their original target age (and still the target age of the books) was actually 8-13.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 13 Old 03-06-2010, 06:57 PM
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I also agree that 6 is too young for these books (in general). There are plenty of other books more suitable for that age range. My 8 1/2 year old is just now able to handle and love the American Girl doll stories.
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#7 of 13 Old 03-16-2010, 02:11 PM
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We didn't find the Addy books to be racist at all, except maybe to the degree that some of the reality was airbrushed. My daughter was given an Addy doll when she six and we read the collection with her. She wasn't scared by the content, but she was also not entirely unprepared for it; she already had a basic understanding of the history of slavery within our own family. Her great-great-grandparents were born into slavery. Addy just connected into other books and other conversations.
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#8 of 13 Old 03-16-2010, 04:17 PM
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I find them too old for my 7 year old. She has two of the dolls and their books but we don't read them. She asked once, and lost interest in the first chapter. I agree with the age range that Tiredx2 posted, maybe in a couple years, she will get into them.

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#9 of 13 Old 03-16-2010, 10:35 PM
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thanks for the warning, my daughter is almost 4 and her inlaws got her an American girl and a few books (which i haven't read) my daughter honestly does not care about the doll so there is no need to read the books but when that time comes ill be reading them alone first. thanks for the heads up!

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#10 of 13 Old 03-17-2010, 03:47 PM
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My DD is 4, we just read the first Kit book and one of the Ruthie books. I really enjoyed them! I didn't have any problem with the content.
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#11 of 13 Old 03-18-2010, 01:26 AM
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We don't own any dolls but my DD bought a book at book sale. she was very upset when she a read a part about a friend dying (I don't remember which doll story it was)
She wanted the book gone. she gave it to her friend who loves AG and is better able to handle that type of thing. both girls are the same age but my DD gets very upset about things like that. Her friend was beyond thrilled to receive the book.

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#12 of 13 Old 03-18-2010, 01:52 AM
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my 7 yr old dd LOVES the stories. she didn't even know there *were* dolls until well after she'd begun reading all the books. you don't have to like or own the dolls to appreciate the books.

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#13 of 13 Old 04-23-2011, 12:56 AM
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My kids both loved the Kaya books.  DD is 5.5 and has the Kaya doll.  DS is only 3.5 and listened to every word of every Kaya book.  I like the books and think it's a fun way to learn a little about history. 

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