Just a few weeks ago 11-year-old Marley Dias of New Jersey made national headlines when she started a campaign to collect 1,000 books that feature girls of color as the main character.
Started in November, #1000BlackGirlBooks was born from Dias’ frustration with the fact that her elementary school of West Orange’s St. Cloud lacked reading materials with characters that looked like her. Dias’ mother then challenged her to fuel her frustrations into a positive with change, and she did just that.
“I started this because in my fifth-grade class I was only able to read books about white boys and their dogs. I understood that my teacher could connect with those characters, so he asked us to read those books. But I didn’t relate to them, so I didn’t learn lessons from those stories,” Dias explained to The Guardian.
The young student visited The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore on Wednesday (Feb. 10) sharing that she had reached her goal and is donating some of the books to her school and a school in her mother’s native country of St. Mary, Jamaica.
“In the beginning, I was concerned we weren’t going to reach our goal, and now there are strangers thanking me for doing this,” Dias said. “It makes me feel happy because there are strangers on Facebook who are so thankful and say ‘because of this book drive my son wants to do this’ and my ‘daughter wants to do that’, and I think it’s kind of cool. It was kind of weird at first that people knew my name and say they heard about the cause and thank me – but now it’s kind of more like the norm. It’s fun.”
It should also be noted that according to statistics gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Centre, of 3,500 children’s books surveyed in 2014, only 84 were by Africans or African Americans, and just 180 featured African or African American characters.
The #1000BlackGirlBooks continues to grow and Dias says she will continue to collect books and give them to schools in New Jersey. So, congrats are definitely in order for Marley Dias and her huge triumph!
Press play and watch Dias explain her journey in the video above.