American Girl books

June 25, 2013

Juliet and I have entered into some new book-reading territory lately--The American Girl series. If you are not familiar with these, they are 6 book series about 12 different girls living in 11 different time periods.

I suppose it is not all that new to me. I remember reading the Samantha series when I was in 4th grade. our school didn't have a library (small private school), but we did have a library cart that rolled down the hall to our classroom once a week. We got to pick a book from it and read it during silent reading time. I remember reading all the Samantha books that way.

Fast forward to now and our local library has ALL of the books. Or at least it seems like all of them--there are quite a few now!

We started reading the Meet Kirsten series together. Fun fact: I had the Kirsten doll as a kid, but never read the books! My mom still has the Kirsten doll at her house, so the girls like to play with her when they visit.

I figured that would be a good one to start with. We both enjoyed it and went on to read Samantha

Since then, we've read Kaya and are now working on Felicity.

I think ideally, Juliet would read these on her own--I think they are great, but really they are written for kids, so at some points, I get tired of reading them back to back to back! (We've switched over to Beezus and Ramona just so I can get a little American girl break!)

I think by the end of 1st grade, she should be at a point where she can read them on her own. I've seen her reading them by herself, so she may be able to now, but I think she likes the time we spend reading them together.

The only caution I would say about them is that someone dies in every book. Again, these are written for 8-12 year olds, so that's probably fine for that age, but for a kindergartener, I was a little apprehensive the first time it came up in Kirsten. Her best friend dies of cholera and I thought, "Oh no! This is too sad for Juliet!" But then I looked over at her and she just looked at me like, "Why did you stop reading?"

So basically, it didn't bother her at all. We talked about it and she was fine with it. It did bring up questions about cholera and clean water conditions and about how many children struggle to find clean water even today in other parts of the world.

A few years ago, I noticed that our goodwill had a lot of American girl books and I started trying to collect a few series. I managed to get a few from about three different girls until I realized that our library had all of them and I didn't need to stockpile them.

So, before you buy them, I'd suggest looking at your local library--they probably have them all!

Juliet is taking a reading/history class at her school next year on the Meet Kit series. They are to read all the books and then every week they work on a project or craft based on the time period of the stories. I'm looking forward to see what they do in that class.

Have you read these books yet? Do you have a favorite series? Is there a boy version of these books that I should know about--as in historical fiction written from a young boy's perspective? I'd love to hear what you think!

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