The American Girl Nanea doll, the newest from the iconic brand, has become far more than their new favorite doll. She has inspired many new conversations in our home about culture, confidence, and more.
Both of my girls have wanted an American Girl doll for a couple of years now. Each time an American Girl magazine shows up in our mailbox, they comb over the book circling the dolls and accessories they want, especially Sophia. So when the opportunity came up to work with the beloved company on a review of their newest doll, Nanea, I literally could not wait for her to show up!
This isn’t the girls first experience with an American Girl doll. A few years ago we visited an American Girl store near Atlanta and they got their first Wellie Wishers. They’ve been fans ever since. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier about that. I’m a little too old to have had the dolls myself, but I couldn’t wait for my girls to hit the age where they enjoyed carrying along a little friend.
And now that that time has come, the newest American Girl doll, Nanea Mitchell made her way into our home and into my girls’ hearts. But the thing is – this doll hasn’t just brought lots of smiles and play time to our house, she’s inspired so many interesting conversations!
Learning about History and Perseverance.
Nanea is a young girl growing up in Hawaii in 1941. As you probably guessed, her story takes place during Pearl Harbor, which is a moment of history that I hadn’t discussed with the girls or one that they’ve learned about in school yet. But thanks to Nanea, we have now.
Nanea is a 9 year old who embodies the aloha spirit. Katy Dickson, president of American Girl, shares “We hope 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.”
Inspiring conversation while reading.
One of my favorite things about the American Girl dolls is that they each have a series of books that tell their story. Along with talking about the history of our country, reading the the first book of the Nanea series Growing Up Aloha, has also sparked conversations about culture, language, and family.
We’ve not just been reading the books but discussing while we read, which improves reading comprehension for both girls.
Not everyone looks the same.
While Sophia is definitely the one who really loves and appreciates all things American Girl, when I saw Nanea, I knew she had to be Moreaya’s first full size doll, but thankfully they both received one so we didn’t have fights over this brown haired, hazel eyed doll!
I don’t often talk about my girls being biracial because honestly our family just doesn’t think that way. They are Moreaya and Sophia – their unique selves. But last year in Preschool Moreaya started talking about how her skin color and hair color was different than the other children, even her sister. We’ve been sure to keep the conversation going, sharing lots of different ways people can look, and it’s a conversation that started again when she started Kindergarten this year. She came home from her first day so excited, exclaiming “Mom, there are 3 other girls in my class with skin and hair just like mine!”
For something that I felt wasn’t a big deal, because we love her no matter who she looks like, it was important to her. So when she exclaimed the same thing about Nanea “Mom, she looks just like me!“, I knew this American Girl doll would help continue those important conversations in our home.
Responsibility and taking care of our things.
I’ll be the first to admit that American Girl Nanea and the other girls are a bit of an investment. But there are things that set these dolls apart from others that you may see for a smaller budget. The 18 inch American Girl dolls feature a soft, huggable cloth body with arms and legs made of smooth vinyl. Her arms, legs, and head moves as well as her eyes close when she’s laid down.
American Girl clothes and accessories are also top quality and I love that they offer larger sizes so your children can have matching outfits with their girls – those are definitely next on our list!
But perhaps one of the best lessons, and continuing conversation, that comes with bringing home Nanea is the fact that the girls are learning responsibility of taking care of their toys. They understand that she’s a special doll that comes with the responsibility of taking care of her and her accessories. It’s a lesson that we talk about often, but has really been understood with their American Girl dolls
Learning about heritage.
Lastly, it’s sparked conversations about my girls own heritage as half-Filipinos. When we read together and learn new Hawaiian words, it leads back to talking about Tagalog and their Dad’s first language.
We talk about the way she’s dressed, the activities she enjoys, and the culture that she’s a part of in Hawaii in 1941. We compare them all to today and to their cousins who still live in the Philippines. We talk about what it would be like to visit Hawaii now, in 1941, and the country where half of their family is from all the way across the world.
While Nanea has brought lots of smiles and play time inside and outside, I’ve been so happy with the amazing conversations that have been sparked in our family by this doll. We’ve been using Nanea to inspire the girls to read, to learn about history, and learn even more about their family’s history and culture.