Smart Girls Guide

“Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World,” is the latest book in the ‘Smart Girl’s Guide’ series from American Girl and published on Aug. 24.

For young girls wanting to make a difference in their community and the world who don’t know where to start, they now have a guide.

“Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World,” is the latest book in the ‘Smart Girl’s Guide’ series from American Girl.

The book, which was released Aug. 24, was written by 2010 VAHS graduate Melissa Seymour and has been honored with a 2020 National Parenting Products award. But Seymour said the credit is not hers alone.

“I want to be sure to call out the incredible Stevie Lewis who illustrated this book, she’s unbelievably talented and made the book what it is,” Seymour said.

The book was written with girls ages 8 to 12 in mind, but Seymour says she thinks teens and adults will enjoy the book, too.

It contains quizzes, tips and ideas to help girls identify their skills and talents and learn how to take action addressing the causes they care about most.

“The timing is pretty wild and relevant even though I wrote it two years ago, I think that kids are looking for ways to get involved and make a difference in our current climate,” Seymour said. “Sometimes the world can feel overwhelming and it’s tough to know where to even begin after seeing clips on the news or stories constantly flashing across social media.”

Seymour said there are hundreds of ideas in the book for making a difference or creating change, among them protecting the planet, helping animals, or being kind to a lonely person.

There’s a list of activism ideas in the book, as well. It touches on everything from purchasing sustainable clothing and addressing homelessness to challenging reading curricula in schools and writing letters to companies expressing changes you’d like to see made.

And despite its name, Seymour said the book is not just for girls.

“While this book is part of American Girl’s “Smart Girl’s Guide” series, I think all kids will enjoy it,” she said. “There are lots of examples of real girls who have made a difference and created truly incredible activism projects. I think the examples will show kids that this is something they can do in their own lives.”

Seymour said that from a young age she has been passionate about volunteering, but that she didn’t fully connect the dots and realize that she could use her talents and skills – particularly her writing – to make a difference.

“I think this book would have lit a fire,” she said.

Seymour said the main message she hopes girls will take away from this book is, “You are so smart and you are enough, despite what the world sometimes tells you. You have the power to make change.”

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at