It’s not about the retail: Local school uses American Girl for history, life lessons

Beverly Vick leads an American Girl club at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. She says it is not about the materials and the retail; it\'s about learning. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Several years ago, Beverly Vick received an American Girl book from a friend.

The first grade teacher at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., had no interest in reading the book, and even less interest in the American Girl empire — an industry of books, dolls and accessories that originated in 1986.

She planned to just look at the first chapter of the book about a character named Addy Walker, a young girl living in the age of the Civil War. But despite Vick’s intentions, she “went right through the book” in one sitting.

“I, too, am African American, and I started reading her stories and realized that it was rich historical fiction,” says Vick, Ph.D.

Now, she leads an American Girl club for first-through fourth-grade-students at MacArthur, an afterschool group she created almost 10 years ago.

Vick says she fell in love with the books for their historical accuracy and for the characters: animated young girls whose lessons and adventures transcend decades, sometimes centuries.

“I realized


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