Book Reviews & Extras - American Girl?

My Father's World uses a Book Basket method to develop a love of learning and enrich all subjects; Independent Reading Time has different goals and methods but there is overlap in book lists and helpful hints
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Book Reviews & Extras - American Girl?

Unread post by southernshae »

Do you recommend the American Girl series?
My dd really enjoyed this series of books when we went through Adventures. Many of them are book basket books and Marie does include some hints as to lying, etc. in them. My dd and I talked about that after she'd read a book (she read them, I didn't read aloud).

She started Josefina and Kaya, but dropped them b/c she said she didn't understand the language.

Like Liz, we enjoyed (dd and mom!) the "Welcome to ______" books that go along with each "girl" very much. They are wonderfully done.

My dd was particularly touched by the Kit books.....set in the Great Depression. We talked about how dd's great grandma lived in those times and how it affected her. My dd goes to ps and she requested to not have a new pencil box this year......she was going to "make do" with an old one (she taped it up and did some other touches) . She said this was something Kit would have to do. I was proud of that :)

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American Girl

Unread post by HSmommi2mine »

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:23 am
I have appreciated how in the sets we read the girls would make a bad decision and then face the consequences.

Kirsten tries to get honey from a tree when she knows she should ask for help and ends up getting chased by a bear. She learns that her parents have rules because they love her and want to keep her safe.

Molly's vanity ends up getting her sick and she misses a performance she was to be the star of

Samantha learns that her view of the world is not always accurate when she finds out that the factories she has praised in a speech were really a dangerous place where her friend Nelly had to work.

Kit learns to be kind and helpful to an old grumpy uncle of her mother's and how to be creative and not waste things in the depression.

Yes they are politically correct and in that way not always an accurate portrayal of how a young girl would have acted in that time period. Some characters are ill tempered, but every good story needs an antagonist. Yes, the girls do foolish things, but they get caught and generally learn that they need to trust their families with their troubles.

They aren't for everyone but they are not terrible books and can be used quite well to spark an interest in history for little girls. My dd and I were able to talk about immigration, learning a new language, how women were not always allowed to vote, how she should trust us to always want the best for her and that she could come to us with anything.

We won't read the ones set in the 60-70's. They are to recent for my tastes, but we have enjoyed some of the other ones.
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Addy- American Girl Books

Unread post by HSmommi2mine »

doubleportion wrote:The Kirsten, Josefina and Felicity Books are all recommended in the ADV Book Basket list.

I was wondering if anyone has read the Addy books? They look like they would be good for the weeks we are heading into (Civil War, Abe Lincoln etc). We have read one of the Josefina books. I liked the Meet Josefina book a lot and found nothing objectionable in it in terms of modeling. We will continue reading the other Josefina books (with my reading ahead and approval first). Dd is asking for more of them after looking at the back of the book. We are finishing up week 26 now. I plan on prereading the Kirsten Books when we get to week 31. Any info or ideas, opinions etc. would be great! I do have a very easily influenced dd who has been struggling in the behavior department at times especially in regards to rebellion, sneaking, and lying. So I have been vigilant about avoiding books that include those types of behavior in an effort to squelch it and not reinforce it. I chose to not do the Felicity books because of the MFW review and what looked like IMO bad modeling for dd.

I really enjoyed the Addy books. In many of the AG books you find the girls getting into trouble because they are sneaking around a bit (they always get caught). I didn't find that in Addy. Her struggles are more about how to deal with such a different life than the one she had before. THere is a lot of respect for the adults in the book. They were some of my favorites.

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Re: Addy- American Girl Books

Unread post by cbollin »

Addy shows up in 1850MOD when doing civil war/slavery stuff. I can't remember when my oldest read them the first time.

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Re: Addy- American Girl Books

Unread post by caspen1973 »

We are just finishing up an entire year of an American Girl Unit Study and Addy was my favorite to study. At first I wasn't sure what you meant by staying away from the Felicity books but then when I thought more about it, I can understand if you have a child who is having some behavior issues you may not want to read that series.

In my opinion, the Addy books are wonderfully written and present great stories. There is nothing in this series that Addy does that is really objectionable if you ask me, however, there is a child in the stories who is unkind to Addy and her friend. However, I used this as an opportunity to listen to my daughters feelings on that and how they would deal with someone treating them in a similar manner.

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Re: Addy- American Girl Books

Unread post by doubleportion »

I did check out Meet Addy at the library. I can see why MFW waits to suggest these books. Content would be too troubling for my sensitive dd. I myself even found a few of the scenes described troubling. (not that slavery would be otherwise) I think I will wait for dd to read those until we get to 1850MOD. Thanks for all the advice.


American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by cbollin »

kidswife wrote:Should I venture into the world of the American Girl books? I've heard mixed reviews --

Yes- because girls love reading them; they incorporate history in the stories; opens opportunities for parents to engage in topics that might not otherwise come up

No - because the company supports Planned Parenthood; the vocabulary is too simple, the storyline isn't complex, the characters lack depth; books and associated toys are too expensive

Vision Forum has, what I would call, an American Girl alternative called, The Beautiful Girlhood collection. Books with dolls and dresses to match. But I've called them and the customer support rep told me the books were more suited for girls 10+ whereas the dolls were for 3+.

I'm just looking for more good chapter books for my avid 6 y/o reader. What do y'all think?
At 6 y.o, I would read them out loud to her instead of letting them read them to herself. Not a good idea to let a 6 y.o read them on their own. Just because they can, doesn't mean they " should". Just like the people at Vision Forum told you - the age on them is not for 6 y.o with either of these series.

Perhaps a list of fun chapter books from Honey for a Child's Heart (from MFW 1st grade) would be helpful?

You might be shocked to find out that in some of the history years, MFW recommends some (not all) of some of the book series American Girl. Marie is careful to put some disclaimers in there on the books and which ones have character issues that need to be discussed. She doesn't recommend all of the books, just some of the older ones. My manuals are a few years old by now. But I'm sitting here looking at EX1850 and ADV and... well. and 1850MOD and well..... uh....

I read them to my oldest and checked them out of library. Followed the warnings in the manual that some of the actions weren't perfect. The vocab is age appropriate (otherwise most children wouldn't enjoy reading them.) Plots don't have to be complicated for elementary age children.

A little soap box moment -- don't believe every rumor you hear on the internet about what AG supports. IN 2005, American Girls severed ties with Girls Inc. (AG was never part of PP by the way, it was a guilt by association thing.) The bracelets were sold, profits donated to the math and science, and literacy and athletic divisions. It was a short term project. It was never the books nor the dolls themselves that was part of the campaign. it was a specific merchandise item being used to raised funds for specific projects in Girls Inc. The Girls Inc thing was from 5 years ago and the rumor persist. The "boycott" was successful as AG did not renew support for that group. It was only sales from a bracelet as part of the I Can campaign. And when in doubt, contact the company directly in question and just ask for their media relations department. so, uhm..... I'll say that as nicely as I can, but uh... uh..... uh... there's not an easy way to say you have incorrect information about that topic.

I'm not saying you should run out and buy any of these dolls from either place. But in terms of the books, wait a little longer than 6 y.o? If it were me asking the rich grandparents and I had a daughter who really really really wanted an expensive doll, I'd probably lean toward Vision Forum just because it's more homeschool company. But for the books, I'd wait a few years or at least until sometime in ADV and check books from library, then get the other ones (VF) when they are older.

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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by NJCheryl »

I remember looking into the PP connection, and I agree with Crystal - not an issue any longer. My daughter is 10, and LOVES AG - books, dolls, you name it. For a long time I did not want to buy anything because of the price, but the really do sell quality products. Some things I WILL NOT but because the price is so outrageous.

I like the books because they have given my daughter a love of reading which she never had before. I would agree that they are probably not suited for a six year old unless you use them a s a read aloud.

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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by MelissaM »

Thank you Crystal, for clearing that up.

My dd loves the AG books, though we get most of them from the library. When she was 6, I read them to her. Now she's 9 and can easily read them independently (easily - 2 or 3 in a day), but I still also read them and we talk about them. I have enjoyed the ones that we've read, although I don't think they could be considered "classics" by any stretch. I don't think they're twaddle, either.

I'm not familiar with the Beautiful Girlhood series, but I will check them out.

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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) »

A quick google search of "supporters of planned parenthood" might help answer questions. I don't see AG dolls listed among the many. That's all I'm going to say about that.

There is a homeschool curriculum built around using AG books. I have not used it, but I did look through their website because of hearing about other moms who do use it. It includes info for Christian parents on issues to discuss with their children.

I did not allow my dd to read AG books at age 6. She was very interested in them, and saved her own money to purchase her first AG doll at that age, but we were very careful about what she read. I tried to read an AG book aloud to her but she asked me to quit because the maleviolent character was too much for her to handle at that age. Now that she is almost 9yo, she has read all but the 2 AG series that we do not allow, and can easily point out what behavior is inappropriate or what attitude is not Christ-like. She does the same thing with any book she reads -- including the ones from the list in the back of the TM or from Honey. There are many classics out there (AG books are far from classics) that require "discussions" about behaviors and attitudes.

I think the only way for you to decide if your 6yo is ready for those books is to read them yourself first. They are very short chapter books that won't take up much of your time. I wouldn't be surprised if your decision is "not yet." I appreciated Marie's notes on the books in the ADV book list, too.

The dolls are high quality and beautiful, and great to have if they fit your budget. They can help teach great lessons about the value of money and taking care of one's things. Do you know how many missionary bicycles you can buy for the price of one AG doll? My dd does. ;) :-)
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by Julie in MN »

kidswife wrote:I'm just looking for more good chapter books for my avid 6 y/o reader. What do y'all think?
I came across a cute series recently called the Moody Family Series. The first book is Moody Family Summer. It's written by Sarah Maxwell, dd of the convention speaker Terri Maxwell. They are a bit similar to the Miller Family Series, except there is more of a continuing plot (throughout the Summer book, the children are learning to care for the pet they want).

My dd (now 23) dearly loved the American Girl books, but their value to me was in keeping older girls, at ages 9-12, still interested in dolls (and reading, and history). I made her wait until she was 9 :)

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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

Although they might be too old right now, the updated Elsie Dinsmore books are delightful.
The updated books are not sold new right now (I think the downturn in the economy has been hard on a lot of small businesses), but they are available used. There is a series for Elsie Dinsmore, Millie Keith, Kathleen, Laylie, etc.
Each of my girls has one of the dolls (Elsie and Millie). They were pricey, BUT well worth it, they are very high quality and they were probably the last dolls my girls will receive. Time marches on as much as I'd like to keep them young. ;)
The content is God honoring and the main characters are Christians. We share in their triumphs and trials.
Enough said...just thought you'd like to check them out.

Also, an older resource (still available used) is Books Children Love. It has a great list of books by topic and age.

Hope that helps!
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by Fly2Peace »

Rachel Yoder books are fun chapter books that we have enjoyed. I think they could be age appropriate.

Then there are animal stories by Bill Wallace.

The BoxCar Children the originals tend to be pretty good (I think that is the first 20 in the series, after the originals the author is actually different people, and not quite as reliable).

The All-of-a-Kind Family series is good, although difficult to find. I am looking for more of those myself.

The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew.

Hmmm. What else?? Well, maybe that will be a start on some options of other books that she might enjoy and might not be questionable at that age.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by amelasky »

My daugther loved (and still loves) the Janette Oke animal books at that age. I cannot remember the title of the series, but there are several books in the series. She also LOVED the Grandmother's Attic books that were recommended in Adv.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by Poohbee »

As Crystal said, Marie does include some American Girl books in her Book Basket recommendations.

There is a year-long unit study which is based upon the American Girl books. It is called Portraits of Amerian Girlhood. We took a year off from MFW in order to do that study because my eldest dd was so crazy about the American Girl dolls/books, and it seemed like a good time to try something different if we wanted to because I wasn't homeschooling any other children at the time. Also, my dd received an AG doll as a birthday gift right before her 3rd grade year, and we used Portraits of American Girlhood for her 3rd grade year. It was written by a homeschooling Mom and is from a Christian/creationist perspective. We read all of the American Girl historical series books during that school year and the following summer. Both my dd (who was 8 at the time) and I enjoyed the AG books very much. Once in awhile, some of the main characters did exhibit some undesirable character qualities (such as Kirsten, who kept a friendship with a Native American girl a secret from her parents, or Rebecca, who seemed rather self-centered). However, I was amazed at how much my dd picked up on those undesirable character traits and both recognized and pointed out to me that they were wrong. So, we were able to have good discussions about the undesirable character trait and how to make better decisions or behave in a more Godly way. As one other mom said, the books are not classics, but certainly not twaddle, either. They incorporate American history in a fun and interesting way.

Now, after saying all that, I have to tell you that using that unit study for a year certainly helped me appreciate MFW all the more! While there were some interesting activities in Portraits of American Girlhood, and once in awhile there were some Biblically-related activities, for the most part, Bible was not integrated. There were some science activities, but not enough to be a complete science study for a full year. I am not trying to bash the unit study or its author at all. I just want to express my opinion that My Father's World is much more complete, organized, and Biblically-focused. So, we have returned to My Father's World, as was always my plan, and we will be sticking with it through high school, unless God says otherwise. I can't express how much I love My Father's World and how much I appreciate all that Marie and David have done with this wonderful curriculum.

As Cyndi (AZ) said, you should try reading an AG book for yourself to see what they're like. They are fast reads, and I, a lover of children's literature, really enjoyed most of the historical books. I believe the AG dolls are recommended for girls aged 8 and up, and I would recommend the books for girls who are at least 8 as well.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by momsflowergarden »

My dd love her AG dolls. That has been her Christmas twice now and this year she will get a third doll. No we are not rich, ;) and this year was especially difficult but that was all she wanted, she is 11 and I figure her doll days are probably very numbered. :( I will say that the AM dolls are very nice. She has played with hers and they are still in great shape. She does take care of them but doesn't baby them.

She has several of the books but most of them she gets from the lib. She reads them over and over so well worth either way. I would agree that 6 may be a bit young to turn your dd loose with them. We read the Kaya series when she was about that age as one of her older brothers and his wife bought them for her. I did read them to her though.

I had not heard of the Vision Forum products until after she was started with AM and after that she couldn't not seem to be directed away from them very successfully. Other dolls just don't seem to be of interest.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by netpea »

My 8yo has an American Girl doll. She loves it and cherishes it.

She loves reading the books for the different dolls, we've picked some up at Goodwill and gotten others from the library. I enjoyed the ones we read together.

My Adventures manual lists them in the book basket section. I do not have the second edition though so I don't know if its changed.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by 1974girl »

Our homeschool co-op did a class on American Girl history. It was the most sought after class and some didn't get in. My daughter loved it. We watched Felicity during Adventures last year. I am pretty sure it was in the MFW manual. Loved it! Nothing bad at all. The Julie doll covers divorce and my 7 year old didn't read it (my 10 year old did). I didn't want my 7 year old to worry about mommy and daddy so we skipped that one for her.
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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by RachelT »

Hello! I just found this thread because I am thinking about what my 8 yo daughter could read after our holiday break. She received the AG doll Felicity for her December birthday, along with the movie and some other items. She has some other AG dolls and really enjoys them, but this is her first historical doll and we did watch the movie a couple of years ago in ADV. I just pulled out my ADV manual to look at it and it is the 2005 edition. It does have notes about the Felicity books in Week 8 during the study of colonial America. It points out some specific parts of books in the Felicity series where it would be helpful to discuss the books with young readers, but I think at 8 and having seen the movie already, we will be able to do that. I might have her read the first book that came with the doll and see how it goes.

I am still looking for other books for young girls who are reading early chapter books.

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Re: American Girl books Vs Beautiful Girlhood

Unread post by tiffany »

Sorry to say our AG days are over here. We read a fair share of books together, and she read many alone. I must say that when we read together, I was always wanting to get to the end of the story to see how it turned out! I can't say the books are perfect, but certainly more wholesome than other entertainment for young girls or "tweens" (hate that word!) My daughter played with and asked for these dolls for much longer than her public school counterparts. I think AG actually helped her stay young longer. We live near Chicago. So we've even had some memorable trips to the store for b-days and other special outings. The place is really top-notch. Really special memories. Much more so than any other dolls. I think reading together and discussion is always good, but I don't think it would be mandatory for every book. I did read the Kaya books with her, because I knew they were discussing Native-American religious beliefs.
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Which American Girl Doll books from Adventures?

Unread post by Poohbee »

cefcdana wrote:I am coordinating a Mother Daughter Book Club this summer and wanted to possibly use one of the Adventures reading list suggestions of American Girl Doll books (I want to keep it age appropriate for K thru 3rd graders).

Which would be better and more interesting for the girls to read and create a theme/activities around---
Meet Felicity or Meet Josefina?

Thanks for any advice!
Hi! We did the Portrait of American Girlhood unit study when my eldest dd was in 3rd grade, so we read and studied most of the historical American Girl books.

Between Meet Felicity and Meet Josefina, personally, I liked Josefina better. It is a period of history not often studied (the early days of New Mexico) as much as the early colonial days in the U.S., and New Mexico is an interesting location. My dd and I really liked the characters and storyline in the Josefina books. Truly, I loved all of the historical American Girl books (except Rebecca...didn't care for those much), so you can't go wrong with whichever one you choose, but my personal preference is Josefina over Felicity.
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Re: Which American Girl Doll books from Adventures?

Unread post by Yodergoat »

I haven't actually read any of the American Girl books, but do remember in the Adventures manual that there were fewer "concerns" (such as disobedience to parents) listed for the books about Josefina as compared to Felicity.

I also think that the time period for Josefina would be more interesting just because it is seldom covered. If I were going to participate in a book club, I would choose Josefina just because of this.

Sounds fun!
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Re: Which American Girl Doll books from Adventures?

Unread post by cefcdana »

Thanks for the replies ladies! We will go with Josefina then.
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