Being the mother of two young black boys I am unwavering in my desire to read to them, as reading unlocks the imagination. I know all too well the struggle of finding children’s books that represent people of color. That my boys can relate to. Marley Dias, an 11-year old sixth grader from New Jersey, also wanted books that she could relate to. She had grown weary of reading literature about “ white boys and their dogs”. A student at Thomas A. Edison Middle School, Marley created a campaign dubbed #1000BlackGirlBooks.
In a interview with PEOPLE magazine, Marley stated “When you are reading about a book, you focus on the main character, of course… When you have something in common with them and connect with them, you remember the lessons they learned and then you can apply them to your life. So you can live the best life you can.” Is this not what we want our youth to do when reading stories designed to teach life lessons? The #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign began in November 2015 and ended February 1st, 2016, and was geared towards receiving one thousand books that little black girls can empathize with. You know, strong, fearless, and intelligent characters.
Marley plans to return to her mothers hometown, St. Mary Jamaica, and deliver them to the schools and libraries. She also plans to give St. Cloud Elementary books as week, to diversify their collections. Janice Johnson Dias, Marleys mother, stated how they will create a resource guide for the books, so that communities all over will be able to access them. Dias, along with Black Thought of The Roots cofounded GrassROOTS Community Foundation, in which she serves as president. The organization is directed at enhancing the wellbeing of women and girls. Marley had some experience before bringing this campaign. She was a recipient of a Disney Friends For Change grant, in which she held a book fair for children in Newark, dispersing books to the youth there.
With campaigns like #1000BlackGirlBooks we will begin to see more literature that our little black boys and girls can relate to. Things like Marleys campaign will encourage our adolescents to read more and potentially become authors themselves. Marley Dias you have done a great service for girls all over, who too are tired of reading stories with characters that do not represent them. In here interview with PEOPLE, Marley stated,
“Anyone can change the world however they want for the better! This book drive is supposed to inspire bigger change. “
Our youth are becoming great forces within our communities, and it is up to us to assist them along the way. Folks, both young and old, let Marley be an example of how your thoughts can become reality. With your drive and will to succeed along with the proper resources anything is possible.