The 2009 Girl of the Year books—Chrissa and Chrissa Stands Strong—introduce readers to ten-year-old Chrissa Maxwell. On her very first day at a new school, Chrissa attempts to make friends but is greeted at first with icy silence from the girls she sits with in Cluster Four. Then, when teasing and pranks turn into serious bullying, Chrissa must find the courage to stand strong and speak out. A section at the back of each book includes letters from real girls who, like Chrissa, have dealt with or witnessed bullying, and gives readers advice on how to handle challenging people in their lives. Each book also includes discussion questions to spark conversations and encourage girls to stand up for themselves and one another.
A beautiful 18-inch Chrissa doll—featuring highlighted dark-brown hair and blue eyes—brings the new character to life for girls. And, for the first time, the new Girl of the Year character will come with two 18-inch friend dolls, Gwen and Sonali, both of whom play prominent roles in the Chrissa books and feature film.
The Chrissa doll, books, and accessories will be available for one year starting on January 1, 2009, through American Girl’s consumer catalogue, at americangirl.com, and at American Girl retail locations. An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong DVD will be available on January 6, 2009, through American Girl channels and nationwide where DVDs are sold. To request a free American Girl catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005.
The Chrissa Web site features educational content for girls, parents, and educators, plus discussion questions to use in tandem with the Chrissa Stands Strong DVD. The site also features fun crafts and activities related to Chrissa, as well as an inspirational pledge that girls can sign and pass along to friends while seeing an interactive map of all the girls across the country who are standing together to stop bullying.
You can watch the movie trailer below. Just pass your cursor over the image below to reveal the controls.
Stop the Bullying
American Girl created this curriculum in partnership with The Ophelia Project, a national nonprofit serving youth and adults who are affected by relational and other forms of aggression. Through school programs, educational workshops for adults who work with youth, and a nationally recognized speakers bureau, The Ophelia Project helps schools and communities create safe social climates.
Communication is key. Spend the hour or so it takes to read the Stand Up for Yourself & Your Friends book with your daughter. You’ll open up important conversations about a topic that affects all of our children in some way every day. Then keep talking about it, checking in often and keeping tabs in the world she lives in.
There’s no substitute for staying close. Truly knowing your daughter means spending time listening and sharing stories with her. Is she more likely to be a bully, the bullied, or a bystander? The only way to know is to stay close and foster a relationship of acceptance and unconditional love.
Children learn what they see. Model kindness and insist on it within your family. Avoid gossiping, and show your daughter how to stand up for others. The positive relationships she sees will guide her on the path to building her own—in the home and outside it.
Media Matters. You can’t control the messages your daughter receives in the outside world, but you can screen the media in your home. Make sure that the music, TV, movies, and video games that she’s exposed to convey the values that you hold dear. When you see or hear unkind or objectionable behavior in the media, speak up and let her know where you stand on the issue.
“Cool” doesn’t equal confident. Having all the latest, greatest items on the shelf or hanging in the closet won’t make your daughter more confident. But feeling strong, smart, and competent just might. Support her in finding activities—especially those outside of school—that tap into her strengths.
Rough times build resilience. Try not to rescue your daughter from feeling negative emotions. Instead, empower her to work through them. When she comes to you to let off steam, honor her feelings—whatever they may be—instead of trying to talk her out of them.
We all have limits. Teach your daughter to accept boundaries. Say “yes” when you can but “no” when you need to. When you set limits, try to come from a place of kindness rather than criticism. By building a foundation of deep respect at home, you help your daughter develop respect for other and for herself.
We all make mistake—parents and kids alike. But your daughter needs to know that when you make a mistake, you make it right. Admit to her your own mistakes, and show her how to heal the hurt when something harsh has been said.
Laughter Heals. Families who have fun together have happier kids. They just do. Plan fun activities to do together, but also build humor into your day-to-day life. You’ll give your daughter an important break from the rest of the world and provide her with a strong emotional safety net.
It takes a village. When you see any child being hurt or bullied, speak up. Advocate for anti-bullying programs in your daughter’s school, and volunteer whenever possible. When we all work together, we make the world a better, safer place for girls.
Mary is one of four individuals who provided their knowledge and expertise on materials and content related to American Girl’s 2009 Girl of the Year campaign to help girls stand up against bullying. To arrange an interview, please contact
. Bios of the contributors are available (PDF)