How important do you think it really is to teach your kids about the history? Do you actively teach your children about their past, the past of the world so they can live accordingly or do you place your focus on the future? Eyes on the prize and all that.
I had a secondary focus on History in university so I learned early on that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. It’s the first thing they teach you and it’s true. It’s like my tween trying to school me on how cool “The Smiths” are. Girl, I was there in the beginning. I know how cool they are. You are only cool enough to understand how cool they are because I made you so.
I make sure that my children know what the world was like before they came into it because if you don’t know the struggle, it’s hard to appreciate that it no longer exists or how far we’ve come to get where we are. Otherwise, we all become complacent and stop growing in any meaningful way. In this way, I think it’s my responsibility to teach my girls.
Not all kids love history unless it is relatable to them in some way. When you are a kid, you are the center of the universe and seeing it any other way is almost impossible. This is one of the reasons I love the BeForever series at American Girl. It has helped me make history palatable for girls no matter the age.
For example, American Girl’s newest BeForever character, Nanea Mitchell, a Hawaiian girl growing up on the island of Oahu in 1941 helps me to explain WWII to my girls.
Nanea’s story explores what life was like for islanders in the weeks leading up to and the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the U.S.’s entry into World War Two. In bringing this significant period in history to life for girls today, Nanea’s story illuminates how the courage, patriotism, and aloha spirit of the Hawaiian people inspired a nation at war and shows how one girl can make a meaningful difference in the face of big change.
“The BeForever line is about building a bridge of understanding, helping girls today see the interconnectedness—the feelings, experiences, hopes, and dreams—that exists between themselves and girls from long ago,” says Katy Dickson, president of American Girl.
The hope is that Nanea’s powerful story of resilience, responsibility to others, and contributing for the common good—or kokua, as it’s known in Hawaii—will resonate with girls and show them they have the power within to face the obstacles that come their way.
Written by Newbery Honor Award-winning author Kirby Larson, the Nanea series introduces readers to 9-year- old Nanea Mitchell. Nanea loves her close-knit extended family, dancing the hula, fishing with her father, and playing with her dog, Mele. Nanea is also eager to “dip her paddle in” to be useful at home and at her grandparents’ store.
When Pearl Harbor—the naval base where her father works—is attacked by Japan, the peaceful existence the Mitchells and their neighbors enjoy is replaced with martial law, and rumors of additional attacks and frequent air-raid drills have everyone on edge.
Amid the chaos and uncertainty, Nanea embraces her spirit of aloha and deeply held belief in kokua—doing good deeds and giving selflessly—to do her part for the war effort and help restore peace to her beloved Hawaiian home.
In addition to the stories, the Nanea collection features a beautiful 18-inch doll featuring an all-new face mold, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair, plus several 1940s-era, Hawaiian-inspired doll outfits and Nanea-inspired apparel for girls. Numerous authentic-to- the-era accessories round out the play experience, including Nanea’s Hula Outfit and Hula Implements and Nanea’s Family Market, with 90 pieces, including a wooden store with a movable counter, food, supplies, displays, and more.
To help ensure the historical accuracy and cultural authenticity of Nanea’s story and products, American Girl worked closely with a five-member advisory board who provided their expertise in Hawaiian culture, language, and history to inform all aspects of Nanea’s development—including the doll, books, outfits, and accessories.
To support Nanea’s inspiring message, from August 21 until the end of 2017, American Girl will be collecting donations for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program to help provide comfort and care to the members of the military, veterans, and their families.
American Girl will match every dollar donation made at americangirl.com or at any American Girl store in the U.S. up to a maximum total donation of $75,000. American Girl is also giving $575,000 worth of its signature 18-inch dolls to the American Red Cross to provide a bit of cheer to children in times of crisis.
Through the generosity of American Girl Dolls, I am giving away a Nanea Mitchell doll to one lucky reader to give to the little girl in her life, just in time for the holidays too!