Heart for Heart Dolls: Because African Girl Dolls, Mexican Girl Dolls and Laotian Girl Dolls are just as fun as the American ones.

Heart for Heart Girls Dolls | Cool Mom Picks

While I have finally come around to accept my daughter’s affinity for American Girl Dolls, suddenly Saige and Marie-Grace have serious competition with Rahel, the Ethiopian doll from the Heart for Heart Girls dolls collection.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Heart for Heart Girls, which are each based on 10 real ten-year-old girls from Afghanistan, Belarus, Laos, India, Ethiopia, and beyond.  I really like that each one one gives your child a chance to learn more about her story and her area of the world, while a dollar from each purchase is donated to a nonprofit that helps the actual community the girl comes from.

At first glance you realize the terrific quality and attention to detail of the dolls, from the jewelry and authentic clothes (the sandals actually stay on, whoo!) to the friendship bracelet your own child will put on immediately. Checking out Ethiopian doll Rahel in person, I was taken with her gorgeous hair and authentic clothes. And I have to say it’s so nice to see an African doll that actually looks African, and not like a dark-skinned Caucasian. More so, I love that she is country-specific, as the African continent is diverse, and an Ethiopian doll is a lot different than a Kenyan or a Ugandan doll might be.

Also, the $24-28 price tag is a refreshing change from others that might be on your kid’s wish list. I’d even pay more, considering I don’t have to brush their hair six times a day to keep it from turning into dreads.


Hearts for Hearts Girls doll - Rahel Ethiopia | Cool Mom Picks

Hearts for Hearts Girls - Shola Afghani doll | Cool Mom Picks

Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls - Lilan from Belarus | Cool Mom Picks

While the dolls look beautiful, know that their backstories in the accompanying storybook don’t pull a lot of punches. Each of the girls faces tougher and more realistic situations than the stories described in the AG empire (especially because they’re all current, ongoing issue you can read about in the news); but of course the girls always demonstrate the fortitude and courage to work through them and persevere.

Kids will learn that Zelia lives on a coffee farm in Sao Paolo. Dell is from Appalachia but had to move after her father’s coal mine closed. Nassam hails from Assam, India where lots of girls her age pick tea for low wages, clean homes and marry very young. Lilan is being raised by her grandmother in Belarus since her parents had to leave her to find work.  And Shola lost her whole family in the war in Kabul, and is often hungry and afraid until she discovers a circus willing to train her to entertain other children in her situation around the country.

Not that these stories are a bad thing. My six-year-old and I ended up having a great conversation about malaria in Ethiopia, why it’s so important for us to support vaccination programs that save children’s lives, and how something as simple as mosquito nets can literally change whole communities.

All because she has a new 14″ best friend who now sits at the dinner table with us every night.

You can learn more about Rahel and the other Hearts for Hearts Dolls on the Playmates Toys website. Order them from our affiliate Amazon or find them in stores like Target

Please note:  The dolls’ charity partner is the Evangelical Christian organization WorldVision. 

[thanks jeannine!]


Liz Gumbinner is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Cool Mom Picks network. This makes her very happy.


  • Reply March 14, 2014


    We originally got two Ethiopian dolls, as our girls were adopted from there 7 years ago, & we love opportunities to honor their heritage. But the dolls are so beautiful & educational, we now have two more, from other countries! They are lovely & the hair is high quality, so the girls love styling it, as well as dressing them & setting them near them while they play. I love that some of the money from the dolls goes back to support the projects that the dolls are based on.
    Thanks for spotlighting such a great toy!

  • Reply March 14, 2014

    Vanessa Knutsen

    I too love the Hearts4Hearts Multicultural/Multiracial Dolls…Alas, my daughter is too old, so I’m saving them for a granddaughter. I promote them on my Pinterest for no pay, and I also offer some free no -copyright clothing patterns for H4H dolls.

    Why??? I love their design and their mission.

    Hearts 4Hearts dolls truly carry on the powerful character-building Girl/Meaningful Story concept…as noted above.

    (And note…their biggest crisis is not “loss of an art teacher”.).

    Manufacturer Playmates Toys donates $ for each purchased H4H doll…to World Vision. Note that while this long-established and highly reputable world charity is Christian, they help persons regardless of their faith choices…(or even lack of faith). So women get microloans from them so the women can set up their own businesses, some villages get fresh wells drilled by World Vision, etc. etc.

    A key quote from above “…While the dolls look beautiful, know that their backstories in the accompanying storybook don’t pull a lot of punches. Each of the girls faces tougher and more realistic situations than the stories described in the AG empire (especially because they’re all current, ongoing issue you can read about in the news); but of course the girls always demonstrate the fortitude and courage to work through them and persevere….”

    In an age appropriate way, the dolls/stories help girls to realize what challenges face for other girls, and suggests they too can take an active part in making their community better.

    I hope PlaymatesToys.com keeps on designing/researching and putting out new Hearts4Hearts girl dolls!!!

    • Reply March 14, 2014

      Vanessa Knutsen

      PS…note that last Christmas people had trouble finding some of the H4H dolls…so buy early if you want a certain one! (Or pay a marked up resale cost from Ebay!!).

  • Reply March 14, 2014

    debbie flores

    First I have to get this out of the way – It’s Marie-Grace, not Mary Grace. And, while I love hearts for hearts girls and have almost the complete collection, they are not as well made as American Girls hence the $30 price tag. Once your child has turned the head a little too far on these it never stays straight again. There seems to be an elastic band inside holding their heads so they either look too far up or too far to the side, almost backwards. That is really the only major design flaw with these dolls. They are super cute, and have a great story behind them. I have checked lately trying to finish the collection and noticed that Sears has marked them up from $75- $100 dollars. These are not $75 dollar dolls. If the markup on them continues that way my collection will never be completed and Hearts for Hearts will risk going out of business, (that’s just my opinion). I don’t know anyone that would pay that much for these dolls. The clothing is also limited and not the best quality. I would like to see the clothing line expand and be a little more well made with better fabrics. I would also like to see more stores carry these dolls in larger selections. So, to sum all this up- These dolls are cute enough, and have a good enough story behind them, that they are definitely worth the $30 price tag. And, at that price you can let your little ones play with them as an accessory (or little sister) to American Girl dolls without stressing over them getting them dirty, but they are no substitute for them and the clothing and accessories do not even compare.

    Thanks for the correction on Marie-Grace, Debbie. You are clearly an AG fan! -Eds

  • Reply March 15, 2014


    I have to say, I have four American Girl dolls and four Hearts 4 Hearts dolls. I do not like the American Girl dolls, they don’t stand well, their hair is always a mess, and they have a cloth body so do not wear some things well. I love the Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, they stand very well, have wonderful hair and have a great body that shows off clothes very well.

    It is true that the neither company does makes good clothes, that is why I am sewing for them myself. I make clothes for both sizes of dolls, as well as many other dolls.

  • Reply March 18, 2014


    We have nine of the ten H4H dolls. We want Dell also but cannot find her : (
    Our girls play with them constantly and love their life stories. At ten and eleven they still love dolls more than any other play. These couldn’t be more beautiful. If someone sees Dell on a store shelf please let me know. I’ll pay for shipping: )

    • Reply March 18, 2014

      vanessa knutsen

      Try contacting a Meijers store. Only place I’ve seen the older H4H dolls. To the poster who objects to 75-$100 h4h dolls, wow. That is too high. Try the manufacturer’s website or amazon.

    • Reply April 11, 2014


      Susie, we have them in stock locally at our Target in Minnesota, including Dell. You can email me (spreading this out to avoid tons of junkmail) thisminnesotan at g mail dot com if you are still looking for her.

  • Reply March 18, 2014


    These are really cute, and I love the message behind them. I like that their stories are modern and authentic. Children could learn a lot from them. Thank you for sharing!!

    One thing I don’t like as much (judging from the pictures), that I really appreciate about American Girl, is their bodies. They appear more distorted (almost like Bratz dolls), with the big eyes and super tiny waists. I really like how AG dolls have a more normal shape to them.

    • Liz
      Reply March 18, 2014


      Oh wow Elizabeth! I can see why that would be a concern. They’re definitely not anything like Bratz dolls and the bodies aren’t tiny at all. I think the heads may be a bit oversized but otherwise they’re well-proportioned, not curvy, and modestly dressed. I do think the eyes on the caucasian dolls especially are a little…alert. Definitely compared with AG dolls. But certainly not to Bratz (or anime) size. Even the girls in Frozen freaked me out a little for their humongous eyes so I understand your concern!

      And honestly they’re 1/3 the price of AG dolls so obviously there are going to be some differences.

      • Reply March 19, 2014


        I haven’t seen them in person, so that’s good to know! Great price tag!

  • Reply March 18, 2014

    catherine smith

    I like that they are based on real girls and that some of the money goes back to the communities, but I don’t like the faces which are not realistic, and I don’t like their body shape, which is much too thin. I appreciate that American girl dolls have a body shape that is pretty normal. Also, their focus is girls in America of many different cultures, and their focus always used to be on teaching lessons from history, and introducing different cultural eras to girls of today through the stories of the dolls. I appreciate that a lot. That said, American girl has let their quality standards drop quite a bit from when I bought my first doll to when my sisters got their dolls, and the later dolls have almost all required repairs that you wouldn’t expect to need on an almost hundred dollar doll.

  • Reply March 18, 2014


    These are so awesome! My little girl is blessed with an AG doll an Bitty baby but I LOVE these! I’m so glad I saw your post…I’d never heard of them. What is the size relation to AG dolls? Just wondering! So these also have books about them? Are they a pretty easy read? Thanks!

    Hi Kristi, AG dolls are 18″ while these are 13-14″ so a bit smaller. Definitely check out the website for a sense of the backstories of each doll, and the kind of language they use. I don’t think they’re difficult reads but have only seen one so far. Hope that helps – Liz

  • Reply March 19, 2014


    Growing up a military kid my dad would bring home dolls from other countries around the world for us. I loved them and cherished them greatly. I didnt realize til i became a mom myself how genericly white american dolls are. My daughters brown hair blue eyes thats not a normal combination and mixed dolls forget it. Im thinking where are the real american girl dolls ? Native american.

  • Reply March 19, 2014


    There is room in the world for all dolls to coexist. No need to put AGD down to elevate HTH. Celebrating diversity is always great but the Heart dolls all have the same face painted differently. Same jaw line, same nose, same eyes (a little too large)… In other words: they come from the same mold. I guess it’s too expensive to make several molds with different ethnic features to truly represent diversity.

    We appreciate the AG doll community’s enthusiasm (they should be thrilled!) –but our intention is not to put down AG as much as to compare two kinds of dolls that bear comparison. Despite some of our issues with AG (like price and limited diversity) we recognize that there are a lot of very positive things about them and they are beloved by thousands of kids, including our own. -Eds

    • Reply March 21, 2014

      Gina Beebe

      As a co-creator of this line, I do want to mention there are actually six unique face sculpts in the HFHG line. They all have a family look, but if you study their profiles, lips, noses, you will see they are not all one sculpt.

      Thank you Gina, for the clarification. We noticed that with the Rahel doll right away. -Eds

  • Reply November 16, 2014


    But all of these dolls have really big eyes and are very skinny. AG dolls are not too skinny, they are a really good width, and there eyes are realisticly sized.

Reader Comments