American Girl Magazine Lets Little Girls Dream

I was a little girl, I have loved reading magazines. I’m not sure what
got me hooked on them. It could have been the quirky word puzzles in
Reader’s Digest that entertained me while I waited on my dad at his
office, the decadent recipes I watched my mom re-create from the
dog-eared pages of her Southern Living, or the short stories my
grandmother clipped from her issues of Woman’s World.

it was, I’ll never forget the thrill of getting my first magazine. My
mom had brought home a copy of Teen magazine from the supermarket, and
it was all mine! I don’t remember who was on the cover or the stars
featured inside, but I do remember running to my room, shutting the
door and plunking down on my bed with my copy. Inside the glossy pages,
I was introduced to a strange, new world that spanned the universe of
style, fashion, makeup and boys–grown-up stuff that, as a 12-year-old,
intrigued but also intimidated me.

I wish there had been something like American Girl magazine
around back then. I would have devoured it!

Published by Mattel for
girls ages 8-12, the magazine is filled with stories, crafts, quizzes,
advice and games for girls who are big enough to think for themselves
and develop their own sense of self, but aren’t yet ready for the angst
of adolescence. It straddles that middle ground between girlhood and
womanhood, empowering readers without thrusting the dilemmas of body
image, relationships and college upon them too soon. Inside, they can
find the best of both worlds: a place to dream and still be little

American Girl does a tasteful, restrained job of promoting its brand–dolls, books and accessories based on
preteen characters from different periods in American
history–while still providing relevant, engaging stories for its
audience. Besides a few in-house ads and a “Doll Fun” department, Mattel’s merchandise
is hardly mentioned. Instead, stories focus on celebrating “who girls
are today and who they can become tomorrow”–the American Girl mantra.

Here’s a sample of the types of features you’ll find in each issue (specifically the March/April 2010 issue in this case):

  • Girl’s Express: Everything
    from crafts, like making customized friendship bracelets and paper
    bouquets from recycled magazines, to contests and reader-submitted
    polls, photos, riddles, recipes and letters

  • You Said It: Girls answer questions like, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and submit questions of their own.
  • Cooking: Tasty twists on everyday food like peanut butter sandwiches, plus games to spark lunchtime laughs

favorite feature was “Parties by YOU,” where readers share their ideas
for the best party theme and plan all the details, from invitations and
decorations to food, entertainment and favors. Their creativity was
impressive! The top three themes included a “Pretend Hotel Sleepover,”
“A Backward Birthday Bash” and a “Fancy French Party.” I could just
picture my younger self planning parties like these.

because a preteen experiments with makeup doesn’t mean she’s done
playing make-believe. I salute American Girl magazine for recognizing
and filling that niche!

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Emily McMackin

About Emily McMackin

Emily McMackin is an editor, writer and perpetual storyteller with an incurable addiction to coffee, magazines, Neil Diamond and Caribbean travel. She resides in Music City USA (that's Nashville, Tenn., ya'll!), where you'll find her staking out live music, salsa dancing, scouring town for the best latte and working on her first No. 1 (book that is).