Frustrated that black girls are almost never the main character in children’s literature, and tired of only reading about “white boys and their dogs”, in November 2015 an 11-year-old self-professed “girlie tomboy” launched #1000BlackGirlBooks book drive – a movement to collect 1,000 books where black girls are the main characters. New Jersey’s Marley Dias simply wanted everyone to be able to relate to the characters in required school reading.
By February 2016, she had received over 4,000 books and did the major drop off at the small parish of St Mary in Jamaica, where her mother (the co-founder of GrassROOTS Community Foundation) was raised as a child.
Expect big literary things from this nail polish-wearing, Minecraft-loving footie fan as she pressures school districts to change the books that are assigned to students. The #1000blackgirlbooks hashtag has taken off, and Dias continues to pass on donations to other schools where students are experiencing the same frustrations she has.
She told the Guardian that the next locations on her list are “The Henry C. Lea school in Philadelphia, Speedway elementary school in Newark, and in West Orange my elementary school … where my frustration began.” Meet Marley Dias:
According to statistics gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Centre, fewer than 10 percent of children’s books released in 2015 had a black person as the main character. To support online tag your favourite book using hastag #blackgirlbooks. Also check out her social activist squad of FutureHeroes ‘BAM’ (Briana, Amina, and Marley).
Jamaica (Port Maria)