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Respect and protect the Earth because we are all connected: Kaya’s story

KayaIllo On Horse

A powerful spirit

A daring race. An enemy raid. A sister lost. In The Journey Begins, the first book of the Kaya series, her heart and mind are both tested. From a careless act that earns her a shameful nickname to escaping capture while making a heartbreaking choice, Kaya must learn to grow stronger from her mistakes.

kaya iloo2 on snow

Facing down fear

Smoke on the Wind, the second book in her series, begins with Kaya recovering from a painful loss. Adding to her anguish is the thought that an impending wedding could change her family. Yet the return of Kaya’s lost sister and loyal horse lifts her spirits—until a new threat puts Kaya in danger like never before.

kaya reading book

Guidance for girls today

Honor, compassion, inner strength—through her stories, Kaya becomes a role model for girls confronted with their own obstacles and opportunities:

Respect for nature. Like her people, Kaya lives with gratitude for the natural world, nursing injured animals, using only what she needs, and giving thanks for the food she eats.

Caring for others. While being held captive by an enemy tribe, Kaya’s understanding of suffering deepens, and so does her empathy and desire to help.

Courage during crisis. From slavery to starvation to forest fires, Kaya encounters many frightening challenges but knows she has it within herself to overcome them.

Watch why character matters

Creating a hero: Kaya comes to life

“What a wonderful job of researching the historical period in which the stories take place. It’s refreshing to have a company make such an effort at getting it right. The Kaya books will make excellent learning tools for young girls to discover the true history and culture of the Nez Perce people.”

— Julie S. Kane, Managing Attorney, Office of Legal Counsel, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee



Authentic from the start

When we develop a character’s world, we depend on so much more than imagination and inspiration. To bring girls a truly authentic experience, we engage in exhaustive research—more than five years’ worth for Kaya!

From location visits to museum tours, from recruiting respected authors to employing our own staff historian, we make sure to cover every aspect of a character. Most important to our research is partnering with an advisory board.

For Kaya’s story, that meant collaborating with the tribe of her people, the Nez Perce, including meetings with elders, artists, language experts, and tribal historians. Our staff immersed themselves in the tribe’s culture with tours of historical sites and recovery areas for salmon and wolves, on horseback rides and hikes over the Buffalo Trail through the Bitterroot Mountains, and in pow-wows and prayers with a Nez Perce spirituality expert.

Putting it all into play


I've always thought of the American Girl historical books as some of the most valuable books available to children. They teach history in a fun way, a way that keeps kids coming back for more... Any child who reads the book can relate to Kaya and know that although they may have different experiences and live in completely different times, they're not so different after all.

American Girl Customer


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