An iconic toymaker is putting the District in the spotlight. American Girl recently released three new characters who are from Washington, D.C.
The dolls — and the books that go with them — in American Girl's new World by Us line are spreading a message of social justice. The three new characters each have their own unique story, but they all encourage kids to make a difference.
In the book, Makena lives in Anacostia and advocates for racial justice.
"For young readers, I think it’s always important to have that balance of people who are like me and people who are not like me," Patrick said.
The character Evette, also from Anacostia, is passionate about cleaning up the Anacostia River.
Sharon Dennis Wyeth, author of the book about Evette, titled "The River and Me," says it was one of her favorite places as a kid, and she wanted to share that with others.
"I loved growing up in Washington; I loved Anacostia; I still love it," Wyeth said.
Finally, there’s Maritza, a soccer player who lives on Capitol Hill and often spends time in Columbia Heights, where her mom grew up and where many relatives still reside. Maritza advocates for immigrant rights.
Author Angela Cervantes says the book about Maritza, "Lead With Your Heart," has a message for girls.
"You can start making this place our country and our Earth a better place right now; you don’t have to wait 'til later," Cervantes said.
Each of the books includes discussion questions at the end, encouraging young people to think about matters such as empathy and kindness, and also the importance of fighting racism.
"Young children experience these things. We sometimes want to pretend they don’t, but they do," Patrick said.