The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us

Stone, Tanya Lee. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us. Penguin, 2010. 136pp. Lexile 1120.

So much of social history can be studied through everyday objects.  What better way to look at middle-class America over the last fifty-plus years--especially among girls--than through the popular doll, Barbie.  Ace nonfiction writer Tanya Lee Stone spreads the net wide, starting with the history of Barbie's creation (by a woman) and the doll's role in making Mattel a big business.  Stone looks at Barbie's clothes, how they reflected the times and how they influenced future designers.  One chapter examines the increase over the years in racially diverse and international Barbies while another discusses controversies. Quotes throughout from doll-owners convey positives and negatives about the doll, with a refreshingly forthright chapter on how kids played with naked Barbies and sometimes mutilated the dolls.  Photographs and captions, including a color inset, add information and interest.

 Reading Std #1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and implicitly, citing specific textual evidence to support conclusions drawn from it.  Have students examine the quotes from Barbie owners in the text, pull-out quotes, and the purse-shaped sidebars.  They should be looking for positive and negative views of the doll in the quotes as well as from their overall reading of the book.  Then convene a discussion in which students discuss the positive and negative impact of Barbie, and weigh in with their own opinions.