Latest News

American Girls: Contest winners inspired by their dolls

All six girls had very similar responses. Some screamed, others jumped for joy, one was so happy I could hear her fighting back tears. It was like they struck gold or won the lottery. No, to these girls this was way better than any jackpot. They had just won tickets to this year’s American Girl Fashion Show. “Very happy, so excited” were the first words out of 9-year-old Ariana Keller’s mouth when she learned she was one of the winners.

For the second year in a row the Bradenton Herald and the Junior League of Manatee County asked girls to write an essay about whom their favorite American Girl Doll is and how she has inspired her. The essays covered everything from overcoming bullying in school to families losing homes due to foreclosure. Tough topics for young girls who say they found inspiration in their American Girl dolls personal story or from books or movies starring American Girls tackling similar challenges.

“I think American Girl and their movies teach great life lessons,” said mom Paula Keller. She loves how her daughter, Ariana, learns about history from her doll.

Liz Goulet’s granddaughter has a doll which was created to represent the year her grandfather was born. “She can relate to his era, the doll’s story helps explain the time and situation they were in.” Goulet’s granddaughter, Olivia, won this year’s drawing contest for the younger contestants.

On March 5, the Junior League of Manatee County will host The American Girl Fashion show at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. And, keeping with the wholesome theme of American Girl- -- the funds raised will benefit children in Manatee County.

People attending the fashion show can expect to see girls modeling with matching American Girl dolls. There will be a doll hair salon, AG book store, professional photography studio, AG fashion show merchandise. At each show a Girl of the Year doll, Kanani, will be raffled off.

For more information visit

Here are the winning essays:


1934 and 2011, not many changes. The Depression was a bad thing for Kit and her family. Kit had to move out of her newly redecorated room into the attic because of the Depression. In 2011, many people are being kicked out of their homes because of foreclosure. The reason Kit inspires me is because Kit and her family worked together during hard times. They still had each other in the end. I love Kit’s story because she is 9 years old just like I am. She loves to write and type on her typewriter just like I love to do, too. (Except I use a computer) Kit is my Hero!

-- Hannah Bodenhorst, third grade


My name is Emily Rushing, I am nine years old and my favorite American Girl doll is Samantha Parkington because she was so caring, generous, helpful, and loyal to others. Samantha inspired me because she was always willing to help Nellie and her sisters, like the time she helped them escape from the orphanage. In fact, Samantha inspired me so much, that I founded my very own charity called Rushing to Help, Inc so that I can help others, too. So far I have arranged a donation drive for a family whose house burnt down; we replaced their clothing and their kids’ toys just in time for Christmas. I can’t wait to organize other service projects to help more people in need.

-- Emily Rushing, fifth grade


Josefina would be my favorite American Girl Doll. Josefina’s story has inspired me to write about her because she reminds me of life in Mexico. It also makes me feel like I’m in the book. When I learned that Josefina’s mother died and that kind of inspired me to write about her. Me and Josefina are kind of alike because we both speak Spanish. Her character is amazing because she finds a way to solve a problem. Josefina almost always finds a way to fix a problem. She inspires me by her personality. She knows how to deal with problems and is brave. I love the way she is so brave, her bravery inspires me to be like her.

-- Marya Catalan, fifth grade


Picture this; I am being bullied by a girl, who never gets caught doing it. It is my word against hers. When I tell we both get in trouble, and are told to keep away from each other.

I am getting tired of feeling sad. I tell my Mom, and she helps me to tell the teacher what has been going on. The teacher agrees to talk to the girl, and her Mom. Things improve a little, but it does not last.

I have watched all the American Girl Doll movies.

My Mom gave me the movie Chrissa Stands Strong. I was really inspired by Chrissa. She was afraid to tell at first, because she did not want to be call a tattletale, and then she stood strong, and things got a lot better for her.

After watching the movie, I thought maybe our class could watch the movie. My teacher said yes, and my Mom came in to talk to the class about bullying.

We talked about the differences between telling and tattling. Many of my friends thought they were the same thing.

Tattling is telling to get someone in trouble, and telling is to get help for yourself or others. We did some role-playing games, and put up a large no bullying sign on our classroom wall.

My whole class loved the movie, and my Mom’s games. I think we all learned a lot about bullying, even the bully. Chrissa inspired my to find a way to stop the bullying, and feel confident about standing up for myself, or someone who is being bullied.

-- Ariana Keller, fourth grade

Related stories from Bradenton Herald