Childrearing

11-Year-Old Hero Starts Literary Movement To Collect Books Where Black Girls Are The Heroes

By  | 

11-year-old Marley Dias is a brilliant kid who loves books, but she’s gotten tired of always reading the same sort of books in school and never seeing diverse characters that reflect her experiences or those of her friends. And she’s decided to do something about it by launching a book drive that aims to  collect 1,000 books where black girls are the heroes, not just the sidekicks or supporting characters.

“I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said to the Philly Voice. “And I told [my mom] I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”

I think anybody who has ever been through fifth grade recognizes that “white boys and dogs” trope Dias is talking about. Shiloh and Where the Red Fern Grows are great books, but at a certain point one starts to feel like the whole world is just boys and dogs.

Dias’ #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign is trying to gather and donate 1,000 books where black girls are the main characters so that kids will have something to read that is a little more diverse than what has become the standard curriculum. So far they have about 600.

“For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have,” Dias’ mother said.

As part of the effort, Dias is working to compile a guide with the book titles, authors and age groups of collected books, so other kids like her will know where to go when they want to find books.

Dias herself is an excellent role model for her peers. She’s bold and smart and her #1000BlackGirlBooks project would be an impressive achievement for a woman twice her age.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Dias said “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

Dias is continuing to collect books, and if she does not find all 1,000 right now, I’d bet good money that she writes them herself someday.

Anybody who wants to send books for any age group can send them to:

GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052