Journals accompany the American Girl dolls and books when you check them out from the library. (Prince James Story, Black Voice News).

Prince James Story |

The American Girl dolls program returned to the San Bernardino Feldheym Central Library on August 29. The library and the program were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

American Girl dolls are fictional characters from different periods in time that portray a story about that period in America. For instance, Melody Ellison is a young African American girl during the civil rights movement in 1964. 

Her doll description says,  “Fairness and equality for all people sound like music to my ears. More than ever, I need to lend my support at home, at church, and around my neighborhood. It’ll take courage, but adding my voice to others can really make a difference.” 

The dolls come in kits and each doll kit includes one American Girl doll, a set of clothes, a brush, assorted accessories, a book about the character, and a journal to record the child’s  adventures with the doll. 

Children ages eight and older can check out the doll for seven days.

“Wild adventures and amazing Surprises are everywhere in nature, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement,” says Kaya. (Prince James Story, Black Voice News).

Cheryl Brown, former California Assemblymember  and sitting member of the San Bernardino Library Foundation, pitched the idea for the San Bernardino library back in 2017. 

Her daughter, Black Voice News publisher Paulette Brown-Hinds,  brought her a book about the different things librarians were doing across the country. One of the entries featured an article about Briony Beckstrom, a librarian in Wisconsin, who started an American Girl doll program in 2015.

Beckstrom’s story was something that inspired Brown to create a similar program in San Bernardino. 

They started with American doll tea parties, free of charge, at the library to see how many people would be interested. 

Journal entry from a child who checked out one of the American Girl dolls. (Prince James Story, Black Voice News).

“It was so successful; we had over 100 people, you know, children and their parents, whoever wanted to come.”

Brown said they still do the annual tea party at the library.

The doll collection has grown, and now they have twelve American Girl dolls available for children to check out.  

“I used to take my grandchildren to the American Girl doll store. We have had birthday parties there and do all kinds of things with them,” Brown said. “It’s also very costly to do that.” 

At the San Bernardino library, they are trying to provide children whose parents might not have the financial means to afford an American Girl doll. According to prices on their official website,  the average cost for a doll, a book, and accessories is around $151. 

The program provides kids with a fun and educational experience, free of charge.

Author

  • Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.

Prince James Story

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.