Every year, American Girl releases a Girl of the Year doll for the new year. Often, these dolls reflect what's cool right now for girls to learn. Last year, it was Luciana Vega, a future astronaut who embraces a career in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. This year it's Blaire Wilson.

Blaire is a chef-in-training, who lives on a sustainable farm/bed-and-breakfast with her family. Blaire also has a food sensitivity that makes her self-conscious, the press release tells us. Sometimes she spends more time on her electronic devices than spending time with real people.

“Building and maintaining supportive relationships with family and friends is central to Blaire’s story — a message we think is important to champion among girls today," says Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing for American Girl, in a press release. "In an age where families are often striving for quality time together, we hope Blaire inspires everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to connect more regularly with the important people in their lives and make their time together this year really count.”

Blaire's story is all about sustainable food and creating sustainable relationships. She also has recipes and gardening tips, as well as cooking and craft-making videos online at play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/blaire. 

Blaire is a good reminder of the American Academy of Pediatrics' screen time recommendations that really emphasizes quality over quantity.

Those recommendations:


Children younger than 18 months of age: Avoid the use of any screen media except video chatting (with grandparents, for example).
Children ages 18 months to 24 months: Introduce high-quality programs or apps, but do it with your children to create a dialog about what they are seeing and how it relates to the world around them.
Children ages 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programs that you view with your children.
Children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media and make sure that the use of media does not take the place of sleeping, exercise and other healthy behaviors.
Designate media-free times together such as during dinner or while driving as well as media-free locations at home such as bedrooms.
Have ongoing conversations about what it means to be a good citizen and be safe online and offline.

One of the things Blaire's creators are encouraging families to do through Blaire's story is to have dinner together. It's a simple thing, but, often, as kids get back into school and activities and parents get back into work after the holidays, it's the first thing to give.

Research has been very clear about the influence having family dinners can make on children. Dr. Leonard Sax, a pediatrician and psychologist and author of the book "The Collapse of Parenting," says that one study found that for each additional meal a family had together the less likely kids had internalizing problems such as anxiety or externalizing problems such as skipping school. It also helped kids develop good nutrition habits, lessening the obesity problem.“You have to communicate that our time together as a parent and child is more important than anything else,” he says.

Austin has an American Girl store at the Domain. Blaire, like all American Girl dolls, sells for $115.