My favorite pastime growing up was reading. I was a voracious reader and devoured every book that I could get my hands on. Even though I dabbled in most every book genre, historical fiction tugged at my heartstrings in a different way. There was nothing I loved more than traveling back in time to discover what life was like before I was born.
Unfortunately, some of that same history that I know and love is on the brink of erasure. With countless examples of statues being torn down, buildings and businesses being renamed, and people getting cancelled left and right, our nation is running the risk of losing its rich and varied past.
History shapes who we are and gives us context for where we are going. It inspires us with its wise words of old and encourages us to do better in the future. We need good examples of well-preserved history, including those created by the children’s doll and book company, American Girl.
While some have tried to cancel American Girl in the past for its depictions of certain cultures, the characters created by American Girl are a great example of the preservation of American history. The historically-based stories and legacies created by American Girl don’t shy away from the difficulties and hardships that come with being human. Instead, they embrace them as part of life and show us how to deal with those issues with grace and patriotism.
One of the historical characters, Addy, is a slave girl in the mid-1880s who escapes from the plantation where she worked with her mother. Together, they escape to the North and try to build a life together as free people. Addy’s journey as depicted in the books is full of hardships. From her oppressive life as a slave to her physically difficult escape to the North to her determination to learn to read, Addy is faced with new challenges on every page.
Another character, Felicity, lives in Virginia just as the American Revolution begins to heat up. She is faced with obeying her parents and saving an animal from abuse. She also deals with a strained relationship between her and her best friend over views on the Revolution.
Samantha, who lives in the early 1900s, struggles to come to terms with the newly industrialized America and its effect on her friends who work in factories. Other historical characters like Kit Kittredge, Kaya’aton’my, Josefina Montoya, and many others expose readers to what it means to American while still highlighting different cultures and historically accurate information.
According to American Girl, this is intentional.
“When we develop a character’s world, we depend on so much more than imagination and inspiration. To bring girls a truly authentic experience, we engage in exhaustive research,” the American Girl website reads.
Not only does American Girl educate young women on the history, cultures and traditions of the past, but it also shows them how to address adversity from a woman’s perspective.
Created with the intention of teaching young women “honesty, courage, kindness, and compassion,” American Girl goes to great lengths to show what it means to thrive despite the chaos of the world around.
Because of the example set by these American Girl characters, I am the strong, moral, patriotic, opinionated woman I am today. I learned so much about history, life, and standing up for what’s right from these fictional girls. I even chose a career path based off of my favorite doll, Kit Kittredge, who wanted to become a reporter.
If the example of American Girl shows us anything, it’s that our history must be preserved and communicated. It should inspire us using people and circumstances from the past to do great things in the future. It should show us how our nation was built by people who chose courage instead of fear, grace instead of guilt, and patriotism instead of wokeness.
I’m proud that my nation’s heritage was available for me to discover through the stories produced by American Girl. My only hope is that more people can rise to the occasion presented by our nation’s current circumstances and recognize the value in showcasing our nation’s history instead of seeking to destroy it.