Why American Girl Dolls & Their Stories Are Important To Girls

Why American Girl Dolls & Their Stories Are Important To Girls

A Little Bit About My Daughter

My daughter loves her American Girl (AG) dolls.  Part of the admiration comes from the awe that she feels when she shops at one of the AG stores.  She saves her money all year so she can purchase all sorts of  outfits for her dolls (many of which can be purchased with the matching outfit for her).  It all seems a bit materialistic until you look past the purchasing component and see the truth:  it’s the dolls’ stories that keep my daughter coming back for more.

My daughter, K, has 4 American Girl dolls.  If that seems like a lot, we understand.  But she wound up winning Kit and her best friend, Ruthie, in a school raffle, so we don’t feel as guilty as we might have had K’s grandparents purchased all 4 of the dolls separately.

K & Marie Grace are ready for their night on the town.

What we enjoy about K’s dolls is that each one has a story associated with it.  The purpose of these characters is to show girls today that they can do great things if they believe in themselves and in each other. From a Native American girl living in the Northwest in 1764 to a contemporary girl who uses her strengths to turn challenges into triumphs, the characters in every story illustrate the power of determination, imagination, courage, and hope—the same spirit that inspires modern American girls. It’s also a great way to learn American history!

Historical Characters Make Learning About History Fun

The historical characters’ stories give girls a glimpse into important times in America’s past. Each character’s story is told in a series of compelling books, focusing on such themes as family, school, holiday, birthday, summer, and winter adventures.  Each book has vivid descriptions of time period that the  girl lived in, identifies the variety of challenges a girl living in that specific time would encounter and, finally, how she resolves these conflicts.  Ultimately, the books seem to ignite a passion for life and enthusiasm for “girl power.”

The Samantha Doll or, for me, the One That Got Away

Can You Believe It?  We met AG Writer, Valerie Tripp!

Realizing how much we love the AG stories, you can imagine our excitement when K and I were invited to The American Girl Place (Chicago) by Priceless Chicago and Digital Megaphone to meet the writer of many of the American Girl books, Valerie Tripp.  Ms. Tripp has written many of the initial dolls’ stories including the six books in each of the Felicity, Josefina, Kit and Molly book series, as well as three of Samantha books. (Note: Samantha is my favorite doll and historical period.)

Priceless Chicago treated us to a delicious brunch where we heard Tripp speak about a variety of topics.

The author looks a lot like KIT!

Early in the presentation, Tripp told the audience that regardless of the time period, the first step to writing a successful AG book is to ensure that the reader actually cares about characters and wants to befriend the character. Only then does Tripp start researching the time period.  She seemingly injects herself into the time period and will read about the it, travel to the various places where the action takes place and even take cooking lessons if knowing how the character cooked and ate is an important part of her story.

If the time period forms part of the characters’ personalities, then the specific challenges she faces shape the rest.  According to Tripp: “The goal is to distill major social problems in the period. The characters are an allegory or metaphor for the major social and political problems.” For instance, when she created Kit Kittredge, the author wanted to communicate the girl’s “grit and determination to overcome the economic hardship” of the Depression era.

One of the significant messages of all AG books is: nothing stays the same and that change is inevitable (Remember: You can’t change the wind but you can adjust your sails?)  The books gently help girls understand they have everything that the need to face and overcome their challenges. In the Chrissa, stories, which were not written by Tripp, the author tackles the topic of  bullying. Through Chrissa’s story, the reader learns about the different facets of bullying (isolating and threatening the victim) and follows the main character as she is bullied and ultimately learns how to face her oppressor and solve her seemingly insurmountable problems. (Even as an adult, I learned a few lessons from reading the Chrissa story.)

As Tripp told the audience “The stories are gentle life lessons, humorous, sad, and an honest portrayal.”

What a relief to be aware of places (and authors) whose professional focus remains on ensuring that our daughters have all sorts of positive role models from all different time periods who share essential personality traits like integrity, honesty, humor and an overall appreciation for being a girl.




Being a Sh*tty Mom Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Parent

Being a Sh*tty Mom Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Parent

See that picture? Yep, that could be me! And I am no longer ashamed to admit it!


I am a Sh*tty Mom.  There’s just no other way to say it.  I am also a Sh*tty housewife which shouldn’t surprise anyone since I am a Sh*tty Mom (the two seem to go together.)  Some might say that I am a Sh*tty blogger but that’s getting a bit too personal, don’t you think?

For some time, I have kept my Sh*tty Mom guilt closeted and have shared one or two stories with only my closest friends who either won’t judge me or have already decided that I am an eccentric who needs to get a full time job already!


Thanks to the following book:  Sh*tty Mom The Parenting Guide For The Rest Of Us, the shackles of shame have been released!   I am not alone!  There are Moms like me who have, for example, avoided taking her child’s temperature in the morning so she can honestly tell the school nurse that “I had NO IDEA Katie has an 103 degree temperature and has a nasty rash!”  When did that develop?!? She was fine when I dropped her off this morning!” (page 76)

Actually the four fabulous women who wrote this laugh-out-loud, no nonsense bow to mothers, Laurie Kilmartin, Karin Moline, Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner clearly love their kids.  But they also understand that as much as one can love her offspring, it’s okay to admit, nay declare, that we are still people and have not been transported to some magic “Leave It To Beaver World” where we are transformed into a form of Stepford Wife.  Somewhere in the Mothering world, a mom needs to reclaim herself and be reminded that, at one point or another, we are all Sh*tty Moms.  We just are.

The book reads like you are speaking with your best girlfriend and she is giving you absolution (and solutions) for some of the stickiest situations in Mommyhood. In Chapter 39, “How To Get Rid of a Mom Who Wants to Stay Over During the Entire Playdate”, I felt like I was getting advice from one of my sisters.  The authors outline the scenario: child and mom enter your house, kids run to your daughter’s bedroom and mom lingers. (In my case, Mom not only lingered but watched the children jumping on the trampoline, invited her younger (3 years old) child to jump as well and then interacted with the kids for the entire play date.)  How I wish I had received the Sh*tty Moms advice: either open a bottle of wine and offer some or be honest by saying “you know, there’s so much laundry and cleaning that I was hoping to get done while the girls played…”! Heck, I never realized that I could have started working in my garden and offered the offending mom the rare opportunity to weed it!  But no, because I did not have this amazing book, I was trapped,  like a dummy, trying to engage the other mother in boring and gossipy conversation.

Talk about a waste of a good opportunity to get some free labor or get the woman out of my yard!

Sh*tty Moms really don’t have time (or the attention span) to read long involved books.  If you are a long book reading mom, either you don’t work from home and can take a lunch break or you are ignoring your child BIG TIME and better go check on him PRONTO!  The Sh*tty Mom book is short; only 175 glorious pages!  And the chapters are short: I can read one while in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks.  Seriously, I did that!

Bottom line: Guess what my sisters are getting for the holidays?  You betcha! The Sh*tty Moms book!  Surprise!  And if you are looking for an unusual gift to give a new mother?  Look no further than this book.  You can get it from most book sellers.  It’s also on Amazon if you are like me and download everything onto my kindle.

You’ll be saving the mom many hours of intense guilt and assuring her that she is not a bad mom, but she may be a Sh*tty one–and that’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect to be a great mom!   If that’s not enough, she can probably get through the first half of the book during a 3:00 am feeding.  Follow these gals on twitter too (@shttymoms)!  If it’s the middle of the night, it’s nice to know that there is someone out there feeling your pain so connect to them on their website: Sh*tty Moms.

I won’t judge.  Will you?



So now it’s your turn: What is your sh*ttiest Mom moment?  Remember, I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me!