Girls of the Year, also known as Limited Edition dolls, are dolls that are only available for one year before retirement. Originally, they were classified as American Girl Today, but with Jess McConnell the line was separated into its own collection.
Girls of the Year were introduced in 2001 with Lindsey Bergman. Each doll is a modern girl with some sort of central theme or hobby that she is marketed with. While quite a few dolls have sold out before the end of the year, the new doll is still not released for purchase until January 1st of the new year.
Traits of the Girls of the Year
Girls of the Year are always modern-day characters that are about ten years old in modern-day America during the year of her release. The character is given a story that expands on her personality, a specific situation she is involved in, and/or hobbies. This creates an overarching theme for the year which is expanded in the collection. Although the line started modestly, Girls of the Year now have collections including multiple outfits and at least one large item such as furniture.
Starting with Nicki, American Girl has held contests and campaigns to promote the Girl of the Year:
- Nicki was a Real Girl 2007 contest to promote girls who were helping in service ways .
- Mia was Real Girl 2008 of girls who performed in inspiring ways. 
- Chrissa was part of an anti-bullying campaign and American Girl partnered with the Ophelia Project .
- With Lanie, American Girl partnered with the National Wildlife Federation and the Be Out There™ Movement to encourage appreciation of nature and outdoor activities.
- With Kanani, American Girl partnered again with the National Wildlife Federation to raise awareness of endangered animals and promote wildlife preservation as part of the Shine On Now campaign.
- McKenna was part of an initiative aimed at increasing childhood literacy with Save the Children's U.S. Literacy Program.
- Saige's release included an arts contests for girls, a school grant contest for elementary arts teachers, and activities developed with Americans for the Arts.
- Isabelle's release included an online sweepstakes contest for girls, but no noted partnerships with campaigns for dance or design.
The Girl of the Year comes bundled with a book at a little longer length than an American Girl Historical Character story targeted to ages eight and up. Originally the stories and books were smaller at only about five or six chapters, but now the books have around ten short chapters each.
Since Nicki Fleming, Girls of the Year have been released with two books each. The first book is bundled with the doll and the second is available separately. This expands the story beyond the first book and allows for a more rounded image of the character through the year. The books often have an after-story section which discuss real life girls who have done the same things the character has done (for example, Nicki's books talk about other girls who have worked with service animals); Mia's had a question and answer section about sports, and Chrissa's has a question and answer section about friendship and bullying. The books are all written in first person narrative from the viewpoint of the Girl of the Year.
Currently, the Girl of the Year is released on January 1st with two paperback books about her, some extra clothing and accessories, and furniture or larger items. A "starter collection" of the doll with some of her beginning outfits and a few accessories come bundled at discount.
Later in the year, near the summer or fall, a second selection of items is released. With Jess and Marisol the "larger items" were released mid-year, but since Nicki large items are now released at the start of the year and the second fall release is generally an outfit and related accessory set. The character's "whole world" collection is then available for purchase bundled at a discount. The items in the collection remains available through about November or December, at which points things that become sold out are retired and not restocked. The entire collection, regardless of remaining stock, is retired after December 31st. After the collection is fully retired, Girl of the Year books (and other media, such as movies) remain available from American Girl for purchase. The dolls are then listed on the American Girl Archives.
Originally, American Girl kept stock of all prior books. Starting with the release of McKenna Brooks, American Girl removed the books Lindsey, Kailey, Marisol, and Jess from sale; however, the books for Nicki and Mia are still available on the website.
In 2009 Chrissa Maxwell came with two companion dolls: Gwen Thompson and Sonali Matthews. This was the first time that a Girl of the Year came with companions or any accompanying dolls, and it is unknown if this will be repeated in future releases.
Girl of the Year Characters
There are currently twelve Girl of the Year characters:
- Lindsey Bergman was released in 2001; she lasted a little over a year and a half.
- Kailey Hopkins was released in 2003; she also lasted a little over a year and a half.
- Marisol Luna was released in 2005.
- Jess McConnell was released in 2006.
- Nicki Fleming was released in 2007.
- Mia St. Clair was released in 2008.
- Chrissa Maxwell was released in 2009.
- Lanie Holland was released in 2010.
- Kanani Akina was released in 2011.
- McKenna Brooks was released in 2012.
- Saige Copeland was released in 2013.
- Isabelle Palmer was released in 2014.
Girl of the Year Companions
Companion dolls, or friend dolls, portray the best friends of the Girls of the Year. They do not come with story books, though they may come with other books. Chrissa Maxwell has so far been the only Girl of the Year doll to have companions.
- Gwen Thompson and Sonali Matthews were released as companions to Chrissa Maxwell in 2009. Each doll came with the American Girl book Friends.
- ↑ The exception was Lindsey, who was available for about a year and a half. However, she did so poorly that it was not until 2003 that another Girl of the Year was released.
- ↑ While Jess's book was set in Belize, she herself is from Michigan.
- ↑ Ready to Fly! American Girl’s 2012 Girl of the Year McKenna Inspires Girls to Face Challenges with Spirit and Determination: McKenna Online Initiative Promotes Save the Children’s U.S. Literacy Program, accessed December 27, 2011
- ↑ American Girl to Introduce New Girl of the Year Doll, accessed December 31, 2012.
- ↑ Kanani is the exception, her books are written in third-person narrative similar to the Central Series, Short Stories, and Historical Character Mysteries for the Historical Characters.
- ↑ Chrissa was not given a whole world set; this may be because of her companion dolls. Lanie, McKenna, and Saige also did not receive Whole World Collections, possibly due to larger items in their collections.