Jennifer Kaleba 202.640.6613 (O) 202.258.8842 (M)
Stephanie Spanos 608.830.4496 (W)
WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 23, 2012) — American Girl's new 2012 Girl of the Year®, McKenna™, will help children across the United States become better readers through the McKenna Online Initiative promoting Save the Children's U.S. Literacy Programs. Introduced this January, McKenna is a skilled gymnast whose confidence tumbles when she starts having difficulty with reading comprehension — an issue affecting many children as they enter fourth grade, particularly the 16 million children living in poverty. Through McKenna, girls will discover the power of believing in themselves and their potential to achieve great things.
"We are grateful for American Girl's support of our literacy programs that help children right here in the United States become better readers and more successful in school and life," said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, explaining that only one third of American fourth graders are proficient in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. "McKenna will help draw national attention to the critical need to improve the reading skills of children across America."
McKenna is available for one year and will launch with two books that tell her story; a beautiful 18-inch McKenna doll featuring long, caramel-colored hair and brilliant blue eyes; and an array of outfits and accessories that bring her world to life for girls.
Written by acclaimed author Mary Casanova, the 2012 Girl of the Year books, McKenna and McKenna, Ready to Fly!, introduce readers to McKenna Brooks™, a determined, energetic girl who loves gymnastics, McKenna shines on the balance beam, but when she falls behind in school, she must use her strengths to turn challenges into triumphs. With the help of her tutor, McKenna learns to bring the same focus and determination she uses in her gymnastics training to improve her reading skills and get her grades back up. As McKenna's self-assurance deepens, so does her desire to help her friends face their own challenges. The nonfiction section in the back of the McKenna books features questions and advice from real girls on overcoming obstacles in the classroom and beyond.
To explore their own special talents, girls can participate in the McKenna's Take the Challenge! strength-finding quiz at americangirl.com/girloftheyear. Upon completion of the quiz, girls will discover their top three strengths out of a possible eight categories, such as Music & Rhythm, Math & Numbers, and Nature & Animals. After completing ten fun offline challenges that correspond to a particular strength category, girls will receive a trophy. And for each trophy earned through August 31, 2012, American Girl will donate 25¢ (up to $50,000) to Save the Children's U.S. Literacy Program.
American Girl is also introducing a companion book to the McKenna series, Take the Challenge: Crazy Challenges and Silly Thrills to Explore Your Talents and Everyday Skills. The non-fiction activity book is filled with more than 100 challenges, including brain-building games, timed tasks, crafts, and quizzes, to help girls improve their skills and boost their self-confidence.
Starting in January, the McKenna doll, books, and accessories will be available for one year or while supplies last through American Girl's catalogue, at americangirl.com, and at all American Girl retail locations. To request a free American Girl catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005.
About Save the Children's U.S. Programs
Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of children by ensuring they have the resources they need — access to a quality education, healthy foods and opportunities to grow and develop in a nurturing environment. When disasters like hurricanes and wildfires strike, Save the Children is among the first on the ground ensuring the needs of children are being met.
Save the Children's early childhood education, literacy, physical activity and nutrition, and emergency response programs reached more than 147,000 children and families in the United States last year alone. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org/usa. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
About American Girl
American Girl Brands is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), the world's leading toy company. Since American Girl's inception in 1986, the company has devoted its entire business to celebrating the potential of girls ages 3 to 12. American Girl encourages girls to dream, to grow, to aspire, to create, and to imagine through a wide range of engaging and insightful books, age-appropriate and educational products, and unforgettable experiences. In meeting its mission with a vigilant eye toward quality and service, American Girl has earned the loyal following of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators. To learn more about American Girl or to request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005, or visit www.americangirl.com.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.