Disguised as fun with friends, kids’ book clubs can be a great way to study historical periods through hands-on learning. American Girl book club is one way I introduced history to my daughter!
Today’s post was written by contributor Michelle Habrych.
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.
American Girl Book Club
A homeschool mom asked if we’d like to join her club. The idea was simple. We’d meet once a month to discuss the real history and culture behind one of the historical AG girls and her American Girl books.
It was a mother-daughter club, with all moms participating. We took turns hosting and leading the group. Our girls got to know each other and enjoyed spending time together as they learned about history.
Which Books to Include
When we did this, a decade ago, there were not as many historical AG girls as there are now. You can study as many of the girls as you have time for!
Here is the chronological order of their stories:
1853—Marie-Grace & Cecile *
1934—Kit and Ruthie
* We did not study
How to Prepare for Your American Girl Book Club
To prepare to lead the girls each month, the mom who was hosting would read the story (with her daughter or separately. At the time, my daughter was not a strong reader, so I read the books aloud to her). Then moms did a little research to find out more to teach the girls about that AG character’s time period. This information can easily be found in history books or an internet search. American Girl also put out Welcome to Felicity’s World 1774 and similar books for each of the original historical dolls. Those books can be a great source of information.
Enrichment to Add to Your American Girl Book Club
Crafts: This page has craft ideas for each time period you might wish to study.
Recipes: Here is a website for “old-fashioned” recipes to go along with whatever time period you are studying.
Other Ideas: The American Girls Party Book by Michelle Jones is a great place to find ideas for each of the original AG dolls.
Free Guides: American Girl now offers free guides on each character for parents and teachers.
The Meeting Format for the American Girl Book Club
For our monthly meeting, we typically did a little bit of teaching, tied in with a craft and a food item for our girls to make. Sometimes we had a game or activity that resembled something from that time period.
For example, when I hosted the Felicity meeting, we had a “liber-tea” party with all sorts of herbal teas for the girls to sample. We played hopscotch and horseshoes outside, games that were played by children during Colonial American times. The girls even had their dolls “play” the games with them. They also made a feather quill pen to take home.
A couple of years later, a mom at our other homeschool group also invited my daughter to participate in a similar club. Since she’d had so much fun the first time, my daughter enthusiastically agreed. This time around she was able to read more on her own. With this group of girls and moms, there were occasional planned field trips to coincide with the girl and time period being studied.
When the local forest preserve district put on a cultural program at Christmas, it featured a reenactment of las posadas, the trip of Mary and Joseph to find a place to stay in Bethlehem. This was mentioned in the Josefina stories.
Another time after studying Julie and Ivy, the girls went out for Chinese food and discussed the idea of divorce, both being related to the American Girl story they read that month.
American Girl Lapbooks
Since she was older during the second time around, my daughter also completed lapbooks for each of the historical girls. Our homeschool group has an end-of-the-year project fair and she displayed them, along with a project board with photos of the group activities.
Here is where you can get the lapbooks for free. They have lapbooks that can be used for any historical study, plus specific books for Addy, Felicity, Samantha, Molly, Kit, Kaya, Kirsten, Julie, and Josefina.
Printables to Plan Your Book Club
Use the following free printable set to help you plan your book club!
An American Girl book club is a great way for homeschool girls to get together and learn more about history, as well as spend time with their moms and friends. The meetings can be as involved as you have the time, energy, and resources to make them. This club was a wonderful bonding experience that created great memories for my daughter and me.
Biography of Contributor
Michelle Habrych is a recent homeschool “empty nest” mom of two, having just graduated her last student after 16 years of homeschooling. She fell in love with history as a homeschool mom and will continue to teach at her homeschool co-op this fall.