I distinctly remember the Christmas I got a cranberry-colored velvet dress with a lace collar. I must have been seven or eight, and it’s not that I was particularly into dresses – but I also received a matching dress (right down to the buttons) for my Samantha doll. My mom had a friend hand-make them both and we have this picture of me and Samantha, perched on a rocking chair, earnestly grinning as only eight-year-olds can. I loved my American Girl dolls dearly (later Felicity came along to keep Samantha company) and everything that came with them. I’m not talking so much about their accessories (though those tiny hairbrushes, pencils, hair ribbons and the like definitely got my heart racing) as their stories. An avid reader from the age of three, I couldn’t get enough of Molly’s adventures in WWII America, Felicity’s colonial escapades, and Kirsten’s life as a pioneer. My dad even tape recorded him reading the entire Molly series when he spent five weeks away from me and my mom one summer. Needless to say, American Girls hold a special place in my heart.
Fast-forward to today, when I get to lead our American Girls Club meetings with my co-worker, Louisa. I can’t even tell you how incredible it is to talk about women’s suffrage, the Underground Railroad, and environmentalism with groups of young girls who are already empowered to a point that is breathtaking. At the last club meeting, during our introductions, I asked the girls to share one thing that they love about being a girl. One, comfortably shifting around in her mother’s lap, shrugged her shoulders and said, “well, I like being a girl because… because I really just feel so free! Like I feel free to do whatever I want, because I’m a girl!” I smiled and told her that was a perfect reason, and in a blink of an eye thought about how far we’ve come. By learning the stories of Addie and Molly, Samantha and Josefina, we teach our daughters about history – not just of women and girls, but of our country — in a way that deeply means something to them.
Visit our calendar of events for the dates and times of the American Girls Club. The next one is this Sunday, July 11 at 3:30pm. We’ll be learning about Julie and her life in 1970s America!