Discovering Pearl Harbor with American Girl’s Nanea

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One of my favorite parts about homeschooling is how customizable it is. Miss H and Mr. B can learn about the things that interest them and in a timeframe that is most convenient for us.

When we moved to Oahu, this history-loving Momma knew Hawaiian history would be a subject of great interest to us that I couldn’t wait to dip into as I knew next to nothing about it (and still have so much to learn!).

Being so close to where the attacks of Pearl Harbor occurred, I knew we needed to delve into an important part of our past.

Although I expose my kiddos to many world truths and subjects that are not in fact all roses and sunshine, I prefer easing them into it when possible. If it’s hard for me, as a very well-rounded and educated adult to stomach some things, I know it must be difficult for them to fully grasp the significance of some events.

I was so excited when American Girl came out with a new historical character this year: Nanea. She’s half haole (white) and half Hawaiian (which my kids love because they have one haole parent and one brown parent, too), and her story begins a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The kids and I have learned so much about Hawaiian culture through the Nanea books. We’ve learned new words and how some customs on the island came to be (you’d never wear your shoes into someone’s house – even our cable guy removed his shoes before walking through our house! That’s a custom that originated with our Japanese friends.).

We visited the Pearl Harbor museum and the U.S.S Arizona, which are chilling sites to be seen. The history of it all is so surreal.

One thing I learned was that all the bases were bombed, not just Pearl Harbor, which is also mentioned in the American Girl books. Nanea can hear the planes over Wheeler air base.

Miss H and Mr. B were so excited to visit the Pearl Harbor museum to help them understand the time in which Nanea lived. And Nanea helped them to understand what it was like for the civilians who were present that day, and for all the days to follow in the aftermath. It was a bit heartbreaking for me, as a momma, to read it all through an innocent child’s eyes. But also there is so much hope. Kids truly are the future, and simply through understanding our history we can see how each generation of children gets a little bit better.

Both of my big kids have been totally captivated and eager to participate in this unit study for homeschooling. They love reading and learning through Nanea’s eyes. We’ve all cried a few times, too. Okay, okay, mostly I’ve cried a lot. Miss H stops me and says “Mom, are you crying again?” Which makes me laugh and we keep reading.

I so cannot wait to delve into our next American Girl’s set of books to aid in our learning of American history. I love how engaged my kids become with the stories they love!

Nanenea’s books are beautiful and her storyline exciting. I want to to tell you all my favorite parts, but I don’t want to give it all away either. But I will just leave with you this fun snippet: H and B have decided that when they get a dog some day, it should be named Mele. So go read the books to find out why!

***This post is sponsored by American Girl, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

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