15 July 2011

Free Advice Friday: There is life beyond Pleasant Company

In what seems to be setting a trend for Advice Column Friday, the Paris Review features a parent soliciting reading suggestions for his daughter:

My ten-year-old daughter is going to drive my family into bankruptcy because of her obsession with everything American Girl: the dolls, the books, the furniture, everything! I'm reluctant to put a limit on her love because it has been getting her excited about reading (even if the books are well ... you know). I also think it might be time for her to read something a bit more mature. Can you suggest a cheaper, and perhaps more worthy, literary obsession for my doll-loving daughter? —Marta, Los Angeles

Dear Marta,
The great thing about the American Girl books (and yes, I have fond memories of Changes for Samantha) is that they do get kids interested in history. And depending on which doll has taken her fancy, your daughter may want to explore “her” era further. You don’t mention a particular obsession, but there’s a terrific body of historical fiction for her age group: a few classic stories she might enjoy—all of which feature young girls, AG-style—are Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Sidney Taylor’s “All-of-a-Kind” series. And needless to say, if she’s not yet discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder, she’s in for a treat!
I read all those AMERICAN GIRL books, although recent family discussion suggests I have lost some of the plot points. But I did see a girl on one of my flights last weekend reading ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS and it made me so happy.

Also, and not that this should be taken as any kind of advice for parenting that I am not so equipped to give, but I remember buying those American Girl books out of my allowance when I was 6 or 7 (at least when I didn't get them as Christmas or birthday presents). I got $1 a week, and the hardcovers were $6 (now $12.50) so it was a Lesson in Saving. Oh boy, maybe we'd better call this Unqualified Advice Column Friday.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

The first chapter of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS terrified me and I refused to let my mother read any more to me. Maybe I should go back and try again (although, really, the image of a little boy being ripped to pieces by wild dogs isn't really one that gets less frightening with time).