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Student starts reading program using dolls

Ashley Charnley | Tuesday, January 18, 2011

While there are several ways to learn about history, Saint Mary’s junior Eilis Wasserman said she uses historical fiction to share the culture of American history with a younger generation.

Wasserman said she is going to start an American Girl Reading Program for elementary aged girls in grades three through five.

“I am a huge fan of the American Girl Doll tradition that started 25 years ago,” she said. “I have grown up playing with the dolls and reading the books that goes with each one.”

The program will meet once a month and explore the life and culture surrounding a different American Girl doll. Wasserman said the meeting would not look at the doll’s specific story as much as it would focus on the era she was living in.

“We will discuss what it was like for that American Girl, by focusing not only on her story, but more so on the lifestyle and culture of that time period,” she said.

Wasserman said she hopes the program will help bring an interest to American history and makes these girls more aware of their own culture.

“[The goal is] to inspire young girls to become interested in their American history and also what makes them unique as American Girls of today,” she said. “I hope that many girls will attend and thoroughly enjoy the activities will be doing. If this program is successful this year, I aspire to continue it next year as a senior.”

She said she was interested in starting the program because it brings together several of her interests.

“I love American history because of our unique culture and opportunities that our country provides. I also enjoy volunteering with children and have a lot of educational background experience,” she said. “I think it is important to have girls get involved in learning about history in a fun and intriguing way. I thought of the idea over the summer and started planning possible ideas for the club.”

The dolls will be chosen from a variety of time periods, Wasserman said.

“It’s hard to choose what dolls to pick,” she said. “The girls get a wide scope of American time periods.”

Wasserman said all meetings will be from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Francis Branch of the St. Joseph County Library on the third Tuesday of every month, with a meeting at Centre Branch on the third Thursday every month except for March. The group will meet during the second week because of spring break. The meetings will go through to May.

Elementary students interested in joining can register online by going through Saint Mary’s calendar of events, or by calling Francis Branch Library at 282-4641 or Centre Branch Library at 251-3700.