Originally historical character books were published for Pleasant Company by Scholastic, but in approximately 1991, the Central Series (along with many other books) began to be published by Pleasant Company Publications (later known as American Girl Publications). They also work through Georgetown Publications in Canada for distribution.
Availability, Box Sets and Story Collections
Central Series books, unlike dolls and items, have been and remain widely available through bookstores and other markets and were not just available through the company. Historical character dolls are always packaged with the first book in their series and, for some time, could also be purchased with a full set of the Central Series in either hard- or paperback versions. Books originally came in both hardback and paperback versions; hardback versions came with paper covers that exactly matched the design of the uncovered books. In approximately 2007--before the release of Julie--all hardback versions were phased out; no characters after Julie, inclusive, have hardback versions of individual books.
Six-book box sets included all books from the central series. With characters that had Best Friends released, for a short time it was possible to purchase a seven-book set that included their book as well. Box sets from 2011 to 2014 (prior to BeForever) included an attached fold-out board game on the back and cardstock pieces for game play; sets for Julie, Rebecca, Cécile and Marie-Grace, and Caroline only came in sets with game-play boxes.
Story Collections included all six books in one bound volume, but only included the Looking Back section of the "changes" books, if at all. Some characters with Best Friends would include sneak-peek chapters of their books.
BeForever volumes were initially packaged in three-book sets with the My Journey Books included.
Book Style History
There have been many changes to the American Girl books through the years, especially the covers. The covers of books had three major changes before the BeForever release, with several minor elemental changes. A book can be fairly dated to its publication run by its traits.
First Style: Parchment (1986-2000)
The first three characters were introduced with parchment-colored covers that were carried through 2000. They are distinctive for the off-white colors and parchment-style boxes on the front and back. This general style was used until 2000 and modified as needed to add new characters and elements.
Standard elements included:
- A specific color was chosen for each girl used for things like the year, her silhouette on the back cover, and the selected dingbat style logo on the spine.
- The year at the bottom of the front cover was split (e.g. Samantha's would have "19" in burgundy on the left and "04" in burgundy on the right).
- Each character was listed in chronological order with her colored silhouette as a bullet beside a brief description of her character.
- The complete back opening text read:
- The books in this collection tell the stories of three American girls who lived long ago:
- Kirsten, a pioneer girl of strength and spirit who settles on the frontier,
- Samantha, a bright Victorian beauty, an orphan raised by her wealthy grandmother.
- Molly, who schemes and dreams on the home front during World War II.
- You can share their worlds -- the friends they make, the struggles and successes they have in school, the excitement of their Christmas secrets, their birthday celebrations, and their summer adventures. You'll see that some things in their lives are very different from yours. But others -- like families, friendships, and feelings -- haven't changed at all. These are the important things that American girls will always share. These are the traditions that come alive in the American Girls Collection.
- The books in this collection tell the stories of three American girls who lived long ago:
The book number in the series was added under the title and subtitle on the front cover and to the spines, just above the character's dingbat symbol.
Felicity's debut added a fourth character to the list on the back of each book; her green silhouette was first, since she was the earliest chronologically and she was described as: Felicity, a spunky, sprightly colonial girl full of energy and independence.
Addy's debut added a fifth character to the list on the back of each book with a burnt orange silhouette between Kirsten and Samantha; she was described as: Addy, a proud, courageous girl determined to be free in the midst of the Civil War.
The new version of the opening passage read:
- You can share their worlds -- the friends they make, the struggles and successes, their sad times and celebrations, their secrets and adventures. You'll see that some things about growing up have changed, while others -- like families, friendships, and feelings -- haven't changed at all. These are the important things that American girls will always share. They come alive for you in the American Girls Collection.
Josefina's debut changed the back list arraignment altogether. Instead of simple silhouettes, each girl had a miniature portrait next to her description and instead of being in a line on the left, the images alternated sides. Both Addy and Samantha's book series were given new illustrations and the cover art was changed to match.
Josefina was described as Josefina, an Hispanic girl whose heart and hopes are as big as the New Mexico sky.
The revised back copy read:
- Some things about growing up have changed, while others -- like families, friendships, and feelings -- haven't changed at all. These are the important things that American girls will always share. They come alive for you in the American Girls Collection.
Addy and Samantha's books were fully re-illustrated to have new (and in the case of Addy, more uniform) illustrations. Melodye Rosales and Bradford Brown's images were replaced by Dahl Taylor and Nancy Niles's images were replaced by Dan Andreasen. These were integrated into the current book cover style, but the overall style didn't change.
Back Cover Gallery:
Second Style: Faded Background (2000-2004)
Kit's book release in 2000 led to a full revision of the book cover, which were also used for Kaya initially. Cover illustrations used the same themes and compositions but with several image changes. They include:
- Cover illustrations were given more detailed (though faded) backgrounds that filled the entire cover, rather than a small section.
- The title, year, book number, etc. moved from the bottom of the front cover to the top.
- The spine was colorized to match the colors assigned to each girl, rather than just using the color on the dingbat symbol on the spine.
- The back cover no longer showed a full list of all the characters. Now there was a description of the book's plot and the other books in the character series. The other characters are represented in a small arch of mini-portraits at the bottom, just above a brief description of "The American Girls Collection."
The new version of the back copy:
- What was it like to be a girl long ago? The American Girls Collection takes you inside the worlds of girls who lived during exciting times in the past. As you read their stories, you can imagine how different life was back then. But you'll also discover that their feelings, ideas, and dreams are just like yours.
Hallmark sold versions of these books in their stores for a short time. This variation had the back bottom cover state The American Girls Collection from Hallmark and a Hallmark logo was on the spine.
Third Style: Large Illustration (2004-2014)
All covers were again changed dramatically with the release of Nellie's Promise. There was no longer a primary set theme to the cover illustrations, though some of them maintained an illustration style similar to the original covers.
- Characters were given a special font intended to mimic their handwriting. This font is used in their names in each title.
- The title is printed over a stripe of the character's unique color towards the top of the cover.
- Books no longer have the book number or extra subtitles on the front cover.
- The spine remained the character's special color, but dingbat symbols at the top are gone and now only appears inside the book for paragraph breaks. The girl's name is shown in its special script.
- The back cover changed fully. The stripe at the front of the book is echoed on the back as a cropped inner illustration. Below it is a story summary, then an arch of the other books in the series and a blurb about the series itself. In the lower left-hand corner is the AG Inner Star logo with the Inner Star blurb that can be found on the website and other AG products. Other characters are not listed externally, but can be seen on an internal front page.
- Books either showed a wholly unique illustration or a larger, close up version of an inner illustration with a brighter background. The Meet Books retained the style of the character's walking introduction in her meet outfit and Holiday Books retained the larger image of the character in her holiday wear from the hips up.
Julie's separate books, Rebecca's separate books, Cécile and Marie-Grace's books, Caroline's separate books, and the Best Friends books were only available in this cover style. This style was retired with the launch of BeForever, though older character books can remain available through multiple venues.
Fourth Style: BeForever (2014-2019)
The launch of BeForever resulted in the most dramatic changes in the Central Series.
The six-book series were rebundled into two-volume books--referred to as Classic Series--and the Central Series became no longer available as individual single book volumes. Each volume was given a unique name and contained three of the six books, with no titled separation between the books specifically. Reasons include making the books more palatable to e-book formats and to "age up" the books to the desired eight-to-twelve age range (as most children of those age ranges have or will soon transition into chapter books of considerable length with few to no illustrations).
Books released for characters initially released under BeForever, starting with Maryellen and onwards, were initially available in this book style.
- The top stripe contains the American Girl Logo, and below that the BeForever Logo.
- To the right side in a single character color stripe is the character name and the year. Instead of individual styled handwriting, a standard brush-writing style font was used for all names.
- An oval logo contains the unique name of the volume and "A classic featuring ____"
- Volume numbers are listed in the lower right.
- Theme colors for some characters changed dramatically (e.g. Addy's themed color changed from a dark orange to medium blue).
- All internal illustrations were removed.
- Cover illustrations are more photo-realistic, and include detailed backgrounds. All new covers were done by Juliana Kolesova.
- Transitional paragraphs and sentences are placed between chapters in some books to tie books together.
- The Looking Back Section has been changed to "Inside ____'s World" and is a two-page summary of the era.
- The spine is in the assigned color. At the top (left, when held with text upright) is the BeForever logo. In the center is the title of the volume, the new dingbat logo, and "A 'Character' Classic 1 (2)". The bottom/right is a red section with the American Girl logo.
- The back text either headlines with "Meet Character's full name" (Vol 1) or "Character's Story Continues..." (Vol 2) and discusses, briefly, the stories contained inside the volume. Below are shown the covers of the other volume and the My Journey Book, with text saying to look for the other books. Below that is the AG promotional text, followed by a unique dividing line appropriate to the era (e.g pearls for Samantha) over data about American Girl, the book and the ISBN and barcode.
Older style books were slowly phased out of print and retired. This resulted in books for Felicity and Molly (until re-release), Kirsten, Marie-Grace and Cecile, and all Best Friend Characters books being no longer available as easily through American Girl directly, though they remained available through the website when searched for some time.
The character's name is in large brush script at the top just below the American Girl logo stripe. The text of "A Classic Featuring Name" is removed, as well as any volume numbers from the front; volume numbers remain on the side. The title of the volume is not isolated in an oval frame and directly printed on the cover image. BeForever is moved where the name was previously, in a small burgundy ribbon in the lower corner with the year and a star logo. Ribbons are no longer in individual colors; designated colors are on the spine.
Furthermore, cover images were resized in various ways for some characters. Some cover images were zoomed in or out, re-centered, or adjusted.
These were not done to Caroline's volumes.
Fifth Style: Abridged Volumes (2019-Present)
In 2019, the central series was majorly revamped, doing away with the 'BeForever' branding and implementing several major changes in abridged versions.
These were only done initially for Kaya, Rebecca, Nanea, Maryellen, Melody, and Julie, with Josefina, Addy and Kit following in 2020.
- Much like the previous BeForever volumes, the newer books feature the character's name on the top just below the American Girl logo stripe, this time as a detailed logo. The year is placed in a smaller font just below the logo and the title of the book is underneath that.
- Books have been retitled to include the character's name; some books were completely renamed to integrate the name (e.g. Growing Up With Aloha became Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha.)
- Volume indication is removed from the front cover; the books are numbered on the spine.
- Character colors have been adjusted again for some characters, as indicated on the spine e.g. Kaya's books are dark blue, instead of the prior red tone.
- Back covers have unique illustrations and contain prior blurbs, edited as needed. These are either contained in a character-appropriate framing (e.g. Nanea's bamboo-style frames) or printed over a full illustration (e.g. Maryellen's).
- Illustrations return with Maryellen, Melody and Nanea getting them for the first time. Julie has several new large photo-realistic illustrations while Kaya, Josefina, Addy, Rebecca and Kit return to their prior illustrations. Not all illustrations from prior volumes are used. Furthermore, handwritten letters (such as Nanea's letter to Donna), instead of being italicized in text, are displayed in a faux-handwriting font.
- Author information, dedications, and advisory board information (for characters developed with boards) are present inside the front flap; the back flap contains publication data, illustrator(s), copyright, and image credits.
- Family and Friends portraits return, with new ones for those who did not have them prior.
- The front of the book includes a "snapshot" or two of the character's world.
- The top of the pages show the title of the book and chapter name in the same font as seen on the cover with the addition of new, unique dingbats on either side of the title/chapter name.
- These new books also feature the "Inside ____'s World" section, which, while similar to prior editions before BeForever, include the same text as before with no expansions in text. Authentic images of the era, when possible, are integrated throughout. The first page shows the title of the section with the character's portrait inside a colored box.
- Many chapters--and whole storylines--are removed from several volumes, to condense the stories (e.g. Maryellen: The One and Only no longer contains the last four chapters that cover her holiday-style story). Due to this, all books show an "Abridged Version" notation in the lower left corner of the back cover. Addy's have been shown to be the least affected, retaining all major stories and plotlines while mostly removing side descriptions and events.
Story Patterns in the Central Series (1986-2004)
The patterns within the books--both plots and covers--were perpetuated all the way through Kit Kittredge's release. Each parallel book in the individual series had a specific cover style which varied only by the character and era, in part to help display items available in the Historical Collections and show parallels among characters. Plots generally loosely aligned in some way.
- See: Meet Books
Each meet book was titled Meet Name: An American Girl. The book establishes the character, their family and some friends, a major issue or theme for the series, and the setting and historical era. The timeline is set from either late spring or summer to the early fall, so as to neatly connect to the following school book. In each, the character experiences a conflict or personal dramatic issue related to the era's events. These range from small in personal scale (such as Molly's Halloween "war" with her brother) to greatly character significance (such as Addy and her mother's escape to freedom or Kirsten's immigration). These books were always packaged with the Historical Character dolls to introduce the character's world along with the doll.
In the American Girl of Today writer's guide, it is explicitly stated that each character is given a big problem that will carry throughout the six books--i.e. the themes of their stories.
Initial Meet Cover Design: The character was initially viewed sideways to the right, walking in front of a location, with her head turned towards in a three-quarters view.. She wore her meet outfit and at least some of her meet accessories. Updated covers before the BeForever Changes did not change this much, except for Molly McIntire who was shown in her Halloween Hula Costume.
When Kit was released, a set of all seven Historical Characters' meet books was available for a short time in a boxed set.
Each school book was titled Name Learns a Lesson: A School Story. The book takes place in the fall, often within a short span of time after the events of the Meet book. The main character starts their formal education (in some cases for the first time, such as Addy) and, if she has not already met their "Best Friend" in the first book, meets them here--an example being Kirsten and Singing Bird.
During the course of the book, the character both learns educational lessons and a personal lesson outside of a classroom setting that expands or changes their perspective and helps to lead to personal maturity. Oftentimes, the "outside" lesson reflects or is influenced by larger scale historical events.
In the American Girl of Today writer's guides, it is explicitly stated that each character was intended to learn two lessons: an educational school lesson and a larger lesson about herself or her world.
Initial School Cover Design: The character is seated facing left (opposite to the direction of the meet book), at her desk at school, wearing her school outfit and with some of her school accessories. The background consists of items from a school-room setting, according to the historical era.
Each winter holiday book was titled Name's Surprise: A Christmas Story. These books take place around the Christmas holidays. The main character has something disappointing happen to them around the holidays that makes them personally sad, but this is almost always resolved by the end of the book. The main character is surprised in some way during the story, sometimes by their own actions to help bring the surprise about.
In the American Girl of Today writer's guide, it is explicitly stated that each character hopes for a material gift and then faces a problem that makes her realize that family and friendship are the best gifts of all.
Initial Holiday Cover Design: The character faces forward, fully showing her; she is holding something special from her holiday story (often her gifted doll) and wears her holiday outfit. There is a holiday-themed background of some type (such as a tree or decorated hearth).
Each Birthday/springtime book was titled Happy Birthday, Name!: A Springtime Story.
These books are set in the spring, which resulted in a majority of the characters released having spring or early summer birthdays. Initially the earliest birthday shown was Josefina Montoya in mid-March and the latest Kirsten Larson in mid-June. (While Marie-Grace Gardner's birthday is on March 3, there are no birthday books for either Marie-Grace or Cécile in their series.) The first major exceptions are Kaya, who is given a summer birthday but is not given a specific birthday celebration, and Caroline who was given an autumn birthday that is briefly seen celebrated in Caroline's Secret Message.
A pet or animal is usually featured prominently. The pet usually belongs to the character or their family but not always (e.g. Addy, whose "pet" actually belonged to her neighbor, M'dear). The character learns a lesson about growing up and maturing. Most of the birthday celebrations happen at the end of the story and are anticipated by the character (the notable exception being Samantha, who has her party at the beginning to allow for later events in another location).
In the American Girl of Today writer's guide, it is explicitly stated that each character faces a problem that almost ruins their birthday celebrations and, as they work through the problem, she learns something about herself and growing up.
Initial Birthday Cover Design: Viewed from a slight angle, the character sits in a chair (often the one from the available Table and Chairs) facing left with something from her birthday collection in her hands or at her feet. She wears her birthday outfit and her pet is shown, and her table, dishes, and party treats can be seen in the background.
Each summer book was titled Name Saves The Day: A Summer Story. These books are set in the summer, generally outside of any formal schooling time. Many of the characters go on some sort of trip or vacation to a new location not seen before in the series. (Notable exceptions are Kit Kittredge and Addy Walker.) Actions occur--many times they are exciting to the character, but later lead to a problem to be solved that causes the "saving". At some point in the book--generally near the end--the character "saves the day" for herself and possibly other characters. The event can be the focus of the book (as in Molly's, where the plot was winning the Color War) or an accessory to the central plot of the book (as in Addy's, where "saving the day" was chasing the thief, but the main theme was Addy's developing compassion towards Harriet).
In the American Girl of Today writer's guide, it is explicitly stated that each character is faced with a problem or fear and working through it leads her on an adventure that ends with an act of bravery that "saves the day."
Initial Summer Cover Style: An "action" shot, in which the character is dressed in her summer outfit re-enacting some of the "action scene" from the book. (e.g.: Molly is rowing her canoe, Addy is chasing the thief at the fair, Samantha is in the boat holding up a lantern to guide them, Kit is walking on the rails.)
Each winter book was titled Changes for Name: A Winter Story. These books are set in the winter to early spring--roughly about one year after the events of the holiday book and about one and a half years since the events of the Meet book. Some profound change happens with the main character's life--often of a negative or depressing tone (i.e.Josefina's aunt possibly leaving the ranch, Kirsten's cabin burning down). This leads to further maturity, and helps to show their progress as a character since the first book; often, their maturity or change in perspective is noted by parental figures. These books originally served to wrap up the characters' stories and close out the look into an era; later Historical Character Mysteries and Short Stories expand the character's story line. All of these books have some sort of positive event for the characters involved, ranging from small in scale (e.g. Kit's news story publication, the birth of Patriot for Felicity) to the major (e.g. Addy's immediate family fully reunited in freedom, Samantha's aunt and uncle adopting Nellie and her sisters).
In the American Girl of Today writer's guide, it is explicitly stated that each character goes through many changes both sad and happy and while initially unhappy by the changes, they learn that change--for better or for worse--helps them grow; the strength they gain from the changes helps them solve their main arching story problem (e.g. Kirsten's feelings of being truly "American" and settling fully into her new country as a home; Kit's distress for change and feelings of helplessness during the Depression culminating in her letter in the paper and her personal acceptance of the changes in her life).
Initial Winter Cover Style: In parallel to the 'meet' cover, the character walks sideways facing right but is turned more to smile at the viewer. She wears her winter coat over another outfit (and often included winter outfit accessories) and waves. Many characters have additional clothing visible; usually one of the additional outfits in the collection (Felicity wears her work gown under her cloak; Addy's school skirt is visible under her coat.)
Variations From Initial Central Series
Starting with Kaya, nearly all character books deviated from the standard six book formats (whether titles, cover style, or order and formatting of events), though each occurred for different reasons.
Kaya's stories do not follow the traditional patterns or titles set by the first seven historical characters, as Kaya's Native American culture does not connect to the dominant American cultural pattern. Her storyline is written so that she does have several alike events, such as a winter festival; however, she does not have the lifestyle or culture of the prior characters and so would not celebrate Christian holidays. Some titles tried to relate to the pattern of prior books, such as Kaya Shows The Way, and her meet and concluding winter books remained titled the same. She also was given subtitles, each relating to the events of the books.
While Kaya's books had different titles, plots, and unique illustration style, she kept to many of the traits on book covers from 2002-2004.
Julie's series does not follow the set title pattern given by previous characters, following Kaya's change in titles. The title changes did not clearly confirm that the original pattern was being discarded post-Kaya or due to the varying events present in Julie's series until Rebecca's release. The main stories, however, are loosely equivalent and are simply are not titled in the same format. With the exception of the first book, the subtitles of the stories that had been applied were also removed.
Julie's holiday book focuses more on Chinese New Year instead of Christmas, which is only shown briefly at the start of the book; however, her initial holiday collection originally focused on the tea with her father. Her "birthday" book less focuses on her birthday party and more on the rise of environmental concerns in the seventies.
Rebecca's series do not follow the traditional titles and was confirmation that the traditional titles and patterns that had been in place for the first seven characters would most likely no longer be used. Her holiday book focuses on Hanukkah as she is Jewish, and includes conflict with Rebecca being Jewish and having her own traditions while trying to live in a Christian-dominant American culture. The main stories still are loosely equivalent to the original series and keep to the same pattern, and like Julie's series, do not have the subtitles with the exception of the first book.
Cécile and Marie-Grace
Cécile and Marie-Grace's series do not follow the traditional titles whatsoever, with the exception of their dual Meet Books. The intertwining series make their books serve as a diptych and a parallel to one another. With two meet books, the same events were shown from each character's perspective. Additionally instead of covering two or so years, the Central Series only covers approximately one year in the two girls' connected lives. This pattern was not repeated with any other characters.
The main stories of Caroline's series loosely follows the pattern seen in previous Historical Characters' series, in terms of seasonal setting. However, they do not align to events in the same order as the others with the exception of the Meet Book. Caroline does not have a proper birthday book whatsoever; her birthday is celebrated at the end of Caroline's Secret Message (her second book) and this gives her a fall birthday. She also "saves the day" multiple times in her series, due to the events of the War of 1812 greatly affecting her life; this also includes the personal saving in both A Surprise for Caroline and Caroline Takes a Chance.
Maryellen was the first character launched wholly within BeForever, so she was never given a separate six-book format and was released with the two-book "classic" volumes which lacked illustrations. However, her books can be loosely sectioned off internally into the six-book "format" as was seen with earlier characters (especially Kit and earlier). This includes a winter holiday surprise, a spring birthday date and celebration, and a summer trip to a different location, which is similar to the order presented in books prior to Kaya.
Unlike Maryellen, Melody's classic-volume books are not as easily sectioned off internally or tied tightly to the original six-book format. While stories can be semi-sectioned, there is no tightly wound six-book structure like many prior characters and the volumes read a lot more like a single book instead of three books in one volume. Her birthday is touched on early at the start of Volume Two; she is born January first, giving her the earliest birthday in the calendar of any Historical Character. She does take a summer trip to a different location; Christmas celebrations are not focused on, instead supplanted by New Year's/Watch Night/her birthday at the start of the second volume.
Felicity (BeForever volumes)
Unlike other rereleased volumes before her, Felicity's BeForever books do not include frequent transitional paragraphs between the previously separated books. Only one is made between what was the fifth and sixth books, to cover the time unseen between summer and winter.
Furthermore, her books did not initially have the same cover design as other BeForever volumes and were given a new style; this was given to subsequent volumes and later retroactively done to older volumes before her. Her name is in large script at the top below the American Girl Stripe, with no text of "A Classic Featuring Felicity" anywhere. The title of the volume is not isolated and is just printed on the cover image with no oval or white background. BeForever is instead in a small burgundy ribbon in the lower along with a star logo and the year (1774). No Volume number is listed on the front.
Like Melody before her, Nanea's classic-volume books are not sectioned off internally into the six-book format and each volume is written as a fully flowing story with multiple chapters from start of volume to the end. Her books start in Fall 1941. This is rather late as most earlier series tended to start in either summer or early fall but was done so that the book directly covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor (in part, from Nanea's direct perspective on the day of the bombing) and the after-effects of the attack on their family and extended family. Christmas is only lightly touched on, and not a major focus of a plot like characters prior; this is also true with Nanea's birthday. Because of the attack, Nanea does not resume going to school again until February, which is covered in her second volume. Nanea's books cover a span of under a year from about November 1941 until approximately late June 1942.
Nanea's books do not have the same complete cover design as other BeForever volumes and more resemble Felicity's. Her name is in large script at the top below the American Girl Stripe, and the title is instead "A Classic Featuring Nanea". On the back her full name is not listed and instead it reads "Meet Nanea..."
Molly (BeForever volumes)
After the release of Molly's volumes, older version covers were updated to match styles with her, Felicity, and Nanea. There are some transitional paragraphs, and since several of Molly's story components are in illustrations, in the BeForever volumes they are typed out into descriptive paragraphs.
Books and Stories
Italicized listings are volume reprints for characters whose first book releases predated the BeForever revamp, with Vol. 1 representing the first three books and Vol. 2 representing the second three books respectively. Listing with a diamond (♦) are the post-BeForever abridged volumes.
- Meet Kaya: An American Girl
- Kaya's Escape: A Survival Story
- Kaya's Hero: A Story of Giving
- Kaya and Lone Dog: A Story of Friendship
- Kaya Shows The Way: A Sister Story
- Changes for Kaya: A Story of Courage
- The Journey Begins (Volume 1)
- Smoke on the Wind (Volume 2)
- Kaya: The Journey Begins (Volume 1) ♦
- Kaya: Smoke on the Wind (Volume 2) ♦
- Meet Felicity: An American Girl
- Felicity Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Felicity's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Felicity!: A Springtime Story
- Felicity Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Felicity: A Winter Story
- Love and Loyalty (Volume 1)
- A Stand for Independence (Volume 2)
- Meet Caroline: An American Girl
- Caroline's Secret Message
- A Surprise for Caroline
- Caroline Takes a Chance
- Caroline's Battle
- Changes for Caroline
- Captain of the Ship (Volume 1)
- Facing the Enemy (Volume 2)
- Meet Josefina: An American Girl
- Josefina Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Josefina's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Josefina!: A Springtime Story
- Josefina Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Josefina: A Winter Story
- Sunlight and Shadows (Volume 1)
- Second Chances (Volume 2)
- Josefina: Sunlight and Shadows (Volume 1) ♦
- Josefina: Second Chances (Volume 2) ♦
Cécile and Marie-Grace
- Meet Marie-Grace: An American Girl
- Meet Cécile: An American Girl
- Marie-Grace and the Orphans
- Troubles for Cécile
- Marie-Grace Makes a Difference
- Cécile's Gift
- Meet Kirsten: An American Girl
- Kirsten Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Kirsten's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Kirsten!: A Springtime Story
- Kirsten Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Kirsten: A Winter Story
- Meet Addy: An American Girl
- Addy Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Addy!: A Springtime Story
- Addy Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Addy: A Winter Story
- Finding Freedom (Volume 1)
- A Heart Full of Hope (Volume 2)
- Addy: Finding Freedom (Volume 1) ♦
- Addy: A Heart Full of Hope (Volume 2) ♦
- Meet Samantha: An American Girl
- Samantha Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Samantha's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Samantha!: A Springtime Story
- Samantha Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Samantha: A Winter Story
- Manners and Mischief (Volume 1)
- Lost and Found (Volume 2)
- Meet Rebecca: An American Girl
- Rebecca and Ana
- Candlelight for Rebecca
- Rebecca and the Movies
- Rebecca to the Rescue
- Changes for Rebecca
- The Sound of Applause (Volume 1)
- Lights, Camera, Rebecca! (Volume 2)
- Rebecca: The Sound of Applause (Volume 1) ♦
- Rebecca: Lights, Camera, Rebecca! (Volume 2) ♦
- Meet Kit: An American Girl
- Kit Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Kit's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Kit!: A Springtime Story
- Kit Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Kit: A Winter Story
- Read All About It! (Volume 1)
- Turning Things Around (Volume 2)
- Kit: Read All About It (Volume 1) ♦
- Kit: Turning Things Around (Volume 2) ♦
- Growing Up with Aloha (Volume 1)
- Hula for the Home Front (Volume 2)
- Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha (Volume 1) ♦
- Nanea: Hula for the Home Front (Volume 2) ♦
- Meet Molly: An American Girl
- Molly Learns a Lesson: A School Story
- Molly's Surprise: A Christmas Story
- Happy Birthday, Molly!: A Springtime Story
- Molly Saves The Day: A Summer Story
- Changes for Molly: A Winter Story
- A Winning Spirit (Volume 1)
- Stars, Stripes and Surprises (Volume 2)
- The One and Only (Volume 1)
- Taking Off (Volume 2)
- Maryellen: The One and Only (Volume 1) ♦
- Maryellen: Taking Off (Volume 2) ♦
- No Ordinary Sound (Volume 1)
- Never Stop Singing (Volume 2)
- Melody: No Ordinary Sound (Volume 1) ♦
- Melody: Never Stop Singing (Volume 2) ♦
- Meet Julie: An American Girl
- Julie Tells Her Story
- Happy New Year, Julie!
- Julie and the Eagles
- Julie's Journey
- Changes for Julie
- The Big Break (Volume 1)
- Soaring High (Volume 2)
- Julie: The Big Break (Volume 1) ♦
- Julie Takes a Stand (Volume 2) ♦
American Girl of Today Central Series
In the early years of the American Girl of Today line, dolls came with a blank paperback six-book set that mimicked the Central Series. They came with a decorative stencil and short writing guides by Valerie Tripp that covered tips for writing and included summaries of the books. They were intended to encourage the purchaser to create something akin to a central series of their own for their doll, and slipcovers could be ordered to protect the completed books for some time.
These were later discontinued.
- ↑ Exceptions are Cécile and Marie Grace's shared series and Nanea's series; see details in article.
- ↑ Scholastic renewed their partnership in 2016 and now publishes other lines. See article.
- ↑ BeForever-released dolls and all dolls released afterwards come with the first volume.
- ↑ sic
- ↑ The exception being Molly, who is in her Halloween Hula Costume; and Kirsten who, while still in her meet outfit, is shown in a dynamic pose.
- ↑ Exceptions include the holiday books for Kaya, Samantha, Josefina, and Molly.
- ↑ This is not done in Melody's or Nanea's volumes, as they are written without divisions, and only once in Felicity's rereleased volumes.
- ↑ Kit is an exception; she is sitting at her desk with her supplies and in her outfit, but her desk is one she has at home.
- ↑ The first seven Historical Characters each celebrated some form of Christmas; though Kirsten Larson's book centers on St. Lucia Day.
- ↑ Kirsten is the only character with a complete change in outfit and is wearing the Winter Skirt and Blouse and the matching Knit Woolens.