Having a doll during childhood is a memorable gift for many young girls. It is a memory that stays with them forever. For many of us who owned an American Girl, it was like gaining a real best friend. American Girl dolls are timeless keepsakes that are not just meant to be played with but to be cherished, loved, and passed on from generation to generation. The dolls have lifestyles, personalities, and come with very unique stories that make them historical. On August 25, American Girl released its newest edition to their BeForever line, Melody Ellison. Melody is a precocious 9 year old girl living in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960’s. Growing up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Melody sees many things a young girl should not have to witness like racial discrimination and inequality. Instead of being afraid, Melody finds joy through singing and becomes a powerful voice that speaks up for equality and peace.
Does this story line sound familiar? With the tensions we have been experiencing in this country, Melody’s experience is one that mirrors many young children today. As parents, it can be difficult to explain to our young ones why equality is not only necessary but also relevant to their life. American Girl has been a pivotal voice in helping aid children to understand these important points through Melody’s story and life during the Civil Rights movement. “American Girl’s historical characters have long been celebrated for their educational value and for helping girls discover strength of character through things that truly matter—like helping others, being a true friend, and standing up for what’s right,” says American Girl’s President, Katy Dickson. As a parent, I could not ask for a better role model.
Along with Melody, we also received Volume 1 of “Beforever, Melody 1964” which is a paperback book written by award winning author Denise Lewis Patrick, to further introduce us to Melody’s background and close knit family. Even though this book is recommended for children ages 8 and up, I still read it to my daughter who is able to relate the story to the doll she is holding. We take a few pages a night and read Melody’s story before bedtime. We are nearly through the middle of the book and she knows that we are reading about her “best friend” as she likes to call her.
As a parent, one of my most favorite parts about the American Girl brand is the great level of work they put into making sure that their story lines are historically accurate. With Melody alone, they incorporated the knowledge and help of six major key players in assuring the accuracy of not only Melody’s story but for her clothing, setting, and dress as well. They are listed below:
– The late Horace Julian Bond, chairman emeritus, NAACP Board of Directors and founding member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
– Gloria House, director and professor emerita, African and African American Studies, University of Michigan-Dearborn
– Juanita Moore, President and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and founding executive director of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis
– Rebecca de Schweinitz, associate professor of history, Brigham Young University, Utah, and author of If We Could Change the World: Young People and America’s Long Struggle for Racial Equality
– Thomas J. Sugrue, professor of history at New York University and author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
– JoAnn Watson, native of Detroit, ordained minister, and former executive director of the Detroit NAACP
Would you like to win your very own Melody Ellison American Doll? Subscribe to our mailing list and comment below what equality means to you!
With warm regards,
*This is a sponsored blog post. All opinions expressed are my own.