Marley Dias is an 11-year-old New Jersey resident who’s rounding up children’s books that feature black female leads so that she and her peers have more fictional characters to look up to.
The project, titled #1000BlackGirlBooks, started when Marley complained to her mother about reading too many books about white male protagonists in school.
“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her 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.” Marley is looking to collect 1000 books featuring black female protagonists by February 1. She is nearly halfway to her goal.
“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,” Marley’s mother, Janice Johnson Dias, tells the Philly Voice.
Marley, who hopes to one day edit her own magazine and “continue social action” for the rest of her life, will catalog the donated books and transport them to a children’s book drive in Jamaica. She and her mother are also trying to start a small library in Philadelphia.
She is currently taking both cash and book donations. Books can be sent to the following address:
GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052
Keep up the good work, young shero.