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Movie Review: An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong

"Be courageous. Be a friend. Be yourself." That is the lesson Chrissa Maxwell (played by Sammi Hanratty) learns after moving to a new school midyear. As Chrissa desperately tries to make new friends, she is confronted with a classic trio of mean spirited bullies.
At ten years old, it is difficult for Chrissa to confide with her parents all the hurtful things that are done.But in the end, though friendships may never be forged, the bullying is stopped.
Our entire family watched watched the movie together. I was leery of all the pink packaging and braced myself for a Valentine's weekend "little chick" flick with my own 3rd grade American Girl fanatic. I was pleasantly surprised.
Throughout the movie, our twelve year old boy couldn't contain his distaste for the way Chrissa was being treated. He even pointed out early on that she should have shared her problems with an adult. Afterwards, both kids easily picked up on the message of how to handle bullies.
I was especially pleased to see cyberbullying included right alongside all the other "traditional" forms of manipulation. It's not a stretch. Fourth graders are quite capable of spreading malicious lies over the web. I've also witnessed at our school how cell phones can be such a status symbol at fourth grade. It is difficult to shield children from bullies when we give them 24/7 access with unlimited minutes.
I would heartily recommend this movie to families. Every generation can relate and learn a thing or two. Grandma had just as much influence on Chrissa as her best friend left behind. After watching, talk to your kids. See what they picked up. Have they ever been bullied or bullied someone else? Then be sure to talk about the right actions to take. What worked for Chrissa and what didn't?

Check out additional conversation resources on Chrissa's activity page.

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