There are as many different reasons for choosing your favorite American Girl doll as there are American girls. Maybe you felt a kinship with a certain doll because of her attitude, her looks, or her era—or perhaps you rebelled by choosing one who seemed like your polar opposite. Whatever your rationale, there was a doll for you! We asked our writers to reminisce about their favorite childhood American Girl dolls, and they took us on a few trips down memory lane.
As a girl saddled with glasses since she was five, I strongly identified with Molly. I can remember struggling with this because I thought Felicity was prettier and Samantha just seemed like the coolest. In fact, I specifically avoided Samantha because I thought she was overrated, even if her fame was well-deserved. (Maybe I was only imagining that everyone liked her best, but I still don’t think so.) But I knew that my loyalty had to remain with the bespectacled American Girl Doll. Getting called “four-eyes” didn’t seem so painful knowing Molly was at my side. –Lauren Passell
My family is Swedish, so I had Kirsten. She really got me. We hung out every day and never got sick of each other. Even though she looked nothing like me (I have dark hair and brown eyes), I loved her golden braids and blue eyes, her thick stockings, and her wooden eating utensils. Kirsten was poor and had a hard farming life, and sometimes I secretly wished we could live like Samantha, or even Felicity, with her satin bonnets and lace gloves, worrying about “father’s failing business.” So I would dress her in my friend’s Samantha outfits, just to see how it felt, but we could only have so many dainty tea parties before I put her back into her simple cotton dress and we ran off to have another woodland adventure. –Sara Jonsson
My favorite American Girl (and the one I begged for and received) was Felicity. This was partly because it seemed like a rebellious choice, when all my friends were choosing the super-fashionable Samantha, but it was mostly because her (excellent) hair was always in a ponytail in the catalog, and I really, really wanted to see it down. –Dahlia Adler
As a bookish kid with glasses who’s still more inclined toward jeans than dresses, I was definitely a Molly growing up, but I longed to be a Felicity. With her red hair and especially her luxurious blue Christmas gown, the plucky Revolutionary War–era doll was my favorite American Girl. I even went to college in Colonial Williamsburg. But as the tiny Victory Garden—fine, it’s a couple pots of herbs on a windowsill—in my apartment can attest, I’m still a Molly at heart. –Sara Brady
My American Girl of choice would be Samantha Parkington, the glamorous Edwardian-age orphan girl. I received Samantha as my particular American Girl doll primarily because she was the doll who most resembled me (brown hair, brown eyes). However, it became clear that Samantha also just so happened to be the best doll because she had the best stuff. As an orphan, she lived with her wealthy grandmother (“Grandmary” to you), and so Samantha was decked out; a fur muff and ice skates for the winter, a floral crown and pretty dress for her birthday, a real pine-needle stuffed pillow and working art kit for her camping trip. But best of all, Samantha was a good, adventurous kid who looked out for others, which meant that I could vicariously enjoy Samantha’s cool gear without thinking she was an American Brat. –Claire Zulkey
Back in the day before you could create an American Doll with any features you liked, Kirsten was my bestie because she looked like me: blonde-haired, blue-eyed, snaggle-toothed, and pale as the driven Scandinavian snow from which she hailed. I loved everything about her: that calico, those pantaloons, the weird braided loops on the sides of her head, and the St. Lucia Christmas stuff—don’t even get me started. To me, Kirsten (NOT Kristen) was the epitome of grace and resilience. But the real reason I loved her was because of all the tiny things she came with. I loved her tiny school slate board and her kerchief, her little desk and the amber heart necklace. I had a weird love of miniatures as a kid. Maybe because they made me feel big. –Kathryn Williams
Boom. The best American Girl is clearly…Samantha Parkington. Honestly, ever since I saw that my childhood best friend had not one, but TWO staircases in her home, all I’ve wanted was to be well-to-do. Samantha, in all her prim Edwardian glamour, filled that hole in my plebeian life. She was also an orphan, however, and thus had the pluck, spunk, and “oh–good gracious dash the status quo” attitude every good heroine needs. In my own personal American Universe, Sam became the first U.S. president—and looked flawless, bloomers and all, in the process. Stick them torn stockings in your pipe and smoke ’em, Grandmary. –Nicole Hill
Which American Girl doll is your favorite?