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

  • Written by: Tanya Lee Stone
  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1120
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; October 14, 2010
  • Language: English

Summary: This book describes the history of Barbie, the iconic American doll, and controversies surrounding her. Does she represent the stereotypical ideal woman? Or is she an inspiration to women around the world? The author uses direct quotes from women of all ages, who describe to her, their relationship with the doll. So what is the truth? Is Barbie more bad then good?

5 keywords: Non-fiction, Barbie, Psychology, Research, Informational Text.

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.1.B
Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

Suggested Delivery: Can use chapters for in class discussions/independent read.

Electronic Resources: Here is a youtube video trailer for the book. This should be used prior to reading, as it gives images to build schema, and creates interest.

This video shows the effects of “The Doll Study.” This should be used during/after reading, depending on the delivery of the lesson. Discuss with students, and prompt them with questions.

Which doll did the children pick more?

What races were the children?

What can we conclude from this story? 

Why is this bad? 

What is a caste society? Do we have one in America in concern to races?

What do the majority of dolls look like in toy stores?

Website: This website includes information about the author and the book, which can be used to build schema about the topic and author.

Teaching guide – This has really great resources for CCSS and how to implement into your lessons and school year.

Key Vocabulary:  

Tribute – To do something in honor of someone

Convention – A way of acting that is normal

Momentous – Very important

Gala – Big public party

Hippest – Very popular and fashionable

Emigrated – To leave a country to move elsewhere

Rivaled – When two people (or companies) compete against one another

Sued – When a person or company has done something wrong or hurtful to you, and you legally ask that they repay you in someway

Diverse – Different from each other

Tumult – Noisy confusion

Idyllic – Happy, peaceful, enjoyable

Rhapsodize –  To praise someone/something with a lot of passion

Titillating – To excite someone in an enjoyable way

Haute Couture – Very expensive and fashionable clothes

Coy – Being sweetly innocent to get attention

Witless – Very foolish

Stereotype – Unfair and untrue belief that people with similar characteristics are all the same in some way

Naive – Lack of experience

Doled – To give something to people

Before: Prior to reading this book, students should know about non-fiction style books, table of contents, academic language, and structure. Knowing these foundational skills for reading non-fiction texts, students will be able to comprehend more of what they are reading.

During: While reading the text, give students historically relevant lessons. For example, this is a great place to introduce “The Doll Study,” and the Supreme Court Decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, that this study was first introduced in. Prompt questions about this topic, such as:

Do you think the Doll Study is still relevant?

Where did you find examples of this in this book?

Do you think Barbie’s accurately depict women of all races? Or do you think just like caucasian Barbie, there is no possible way to make a Barbie look like everyone?

Do you think that children of a different race than you feel alienated by Barbie because she doesn’t look like them?

After: After reading this story ask students their opinion of the text.

Do they also feel a hatred towards dolls? Where do they think this hatred came from?

How do you think the author feels about Barbie? (Great place to discuss neutrality in writing).

Do you think Barbie promotes bad self image to girls?

Writing Activity: This is a great book to use to master the art of the persuasive essay, and using textual information to back up answers. Ask the students this essay question: In what ways has Barbie helped society? In what ways has she harmed society? Use text evidence to support your answer. Do you think she is a good model or a bad model for children?


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