American Girl Doll – and the culture that goes along with it – is idolized by many girls. From the tea parties, to the magazine cover, to the matching doll clothes, American Girl Doll is a huge industry. Recently, the company announced it would be adding a new doll, Melody Ellison, to its historical doll collection, BeForever. BeForever includes, among others, the familiar and well-loved faces of Kaya, Josefina, Addy, Samantha, Rebecca, Kit, Maryellen, and Julie, and the soon-to-be-added Melody is expected to be received just as well.
Melody will be introduced in August 2016. She is a 9-year-old, African-American girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960s, a pivotal time in American history.
“This really excites me,” said senior Olivia Holt. “I hope my younger cousins have the opportunity to love Melody like I loved Addy.”
Each doll has a series of books focused on her that are meant to gives lessons on history and life, and Melody is no different. Her books will have a focus on the Civil Rights movement and Motown, important societal progressions that took place at that time. American Girl Doll has a history of taking on complex issues – including the Great Depression and slavery – and showing them from the perspective of a young girl. As this is its target audience, American Girl Doll allows present-day girls to understand historical events as they would have experienced them. Among other topics, Melody’s books will discuss the church bombings in Alabama and voting rights.
As American Girl Doll is dedicated to teaching accurate information, there is an advisory board that checks the historical correctness of the books. Melody’s board members included “the late civil rights leader Julian Bond; Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; Gloria House, professor emerita of African-American studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and JoAnn Watson, the former Detroit city councilwoman” according to the Detroit Free Press.
Melody is the third black doll in the historical collection. Addy was a slave and is still available today, and Cécile Rey was discontinued after three years. Many girls get their first taste of important historical realities, like slavery, from the information provided by their American Girl Doll books. With the release of Melody, a new generation of young girls will have the opportunity to learn about Civil Rights, Motown, and Detroit itself. As stated on the American Girl Doll website, young girls can be helped to find their “voice” based on Melody’s story.
Melody will go on sale for $115. Her book, however, is on sale now for $9.99. According to the American Girl Doll website, it has donated over “$100 million dollars in dolls, books, and clothes” to various charities to date. With the addition of Melody, it plans on giving to Detroit-based charities that benefit children.