I have some biases
And frankly, they led me to presume that I would hate American Girl magazine.
At best I thought it would be okay. There was no way I was going to recommend it. But it turns out - embarrassingly enough - that I love it.
Not for me, of course, but for girls of all sorts.
What I love
First off, no ads. (As of this writing.) I expected American Girl to be a horror show of self-promotion, shouting endlessly about the whole American Girl franchise and all the American Girl products.
It doesn't. But you know what? Even if it did, that might be okay. Because I'm coming to realize that the whole American Girl concept is a tremendously positive thing.
I have never seen a magazine where the readers themselves were so featured. And celebrated. Review continues below.
American Girl magazine is designed to make girls feel good about being girls, and about all they can do, experience and accomplish.
This isn't a magazine that tries to grow your daughter up too fast. To the contrary, it revels in the here and now, in girlhood.
It features tons of activities - not just on the page activities, but things to do with your friends. But on top of all the things to do emphasis, there's a can do theme as well.
For instance, a feature article in the issue I read was "Hope and Heart." It was a story about little triumphs and bright futures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Another very special article was entitled "Boys as Friends." It offered readers a chance to "meet a girl whose good friend is a boy. Then find out if you know a boy who might make a great friend."
How sweet is that?
Throughout American Girl magazine, readers are featured
Their pictures. Their projects. (There are projects galore in here.) Their cute little faces. The issue I read featured the winners of a craft contest. The longest article was from the 13 year old winner of a short story contest.
The message your daughter should get from all this is "you are special." It's refreshing, especially after reading so many children's magazines lately that seem to feature the message, "celebrities are special."
The girls featured in the American Girl magazine I read ranged in age from 9 to 13. That's probably a good upper limit for a reader, but I'd feel plenty comfortable subscribing for girls as young as seven.
Magazines.com, Best Children's Books' magazine partner, features the following guarantee on their site:
"Our customers will be 100% satisfied or they will receive a 100% refund for all undelivered issues, at any time, for any reason."
You're probably starting to think I work for American Girl
I can understand that. The truth is, I'm having trouble finding anything negative to say about it. But here's something:
It's only a bimonthly. I wish, wish, wish it came more often, because the reason I promote children's magazines so strongly is because I think they're a great way to promote a regular reading habit.
There are enough projects in American Girl to keep your daughter going for a couple months, but not enough reading.
So think about this: subscribe to American Girl magazine as a great, ego-boosting gift for your daughter, but don't make it the beginning and end of your efforts to promote a regular reading habit.
Visit my children's magazines page for more ideas to supplement your daughter's reading.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.