By Alison Thoet – Marley Dias, a 13-year-old girl who has collected more than 11,000 books that showcase black female lead characters, can now add her own book to her list.
“I knew I was frustrated by the lack of diversity in the books I was reading in school, but it wasn’t until my mother asked me about what I wanted to change that the [book drive] idea fully became clear,” said Dias, who launched her #1000blackgirlbooks book drive in 2017 and is on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list for 2018.
“Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” serves as a guide for children to make a positive change through activism, inclusion and community involvement. Dias, an eighth grade student at her local public school, loves to write, though even she admits she is surprised to have already written a book by age 13.
“Because it was my story I wanted to share ‘how’ I did it, so other kids can learn how they can use their gifts, talents and passions to make a change in the world,” Dias said. “I also wanted adults to know what they could do to help kids change the world.”
Film director Ava DuVernay, who directed the upcoming film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy classic “A Wrinkle In Time,” wrote the introduction to Dias’ book. Though the original book does not have a black protagonist, DuVernay cast Storm Reid as Meg Murry in the film, alongside Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Meg’s mother.
“It is so nice to see that the black girl is the main character, and not the sidekick,” Dias said. “This movie, like the black girl books I collect, will serve as a mirror for black girls and as a window to other young girls to see what they can do.”
Having far surpassed her original goal of 1,000 books, Dias now hopes to collect and distribute 1 million black girl books across the globe to libraries, schools and community organizations, as well as create an app to go along with her book guide and possibly a future book club on a global level.
We asked Marley for six recommendations from her collection:
1. “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson
I know this is considered an adult book, but I read it this summer and I think everyone should read it. This story is one of my favorites. It is about a set of girls from Brooklyn and their friendship and how they deal with love and loss.
2. “One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia
I love this book because it shows us a different part of black-girl sisterhood and the joy that we can experience together. The story also talks about the Black Panther Party and includes an untold part of the Civil Rights Movement.
3. “I am Judging You” by Luvvie Ajayi
This book makes you think and laugh. Luvvie is so funny and when you read her book, which is really a set of essays, you can hear her voice in your head. I think this is a must read for anyone who wants to challenge themselves to be critical and also learn how to be expressive in their thoughts and ideas.
4. “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
This book has had the biggest impact on my life. It was my first Jacqueline Woodson book. It is a book written in verse and it shares the story of a young girl and the challenges she faces growing up in the racially segregated south. The title, the cover and the story are all inspirational.
5. “Aya: Life in Yop City” by Marguerite Abouet
This story is a graphic novel about a really smart girl from the Ivory Coast. It is a coming of age story, and like a lot of the books I like, Aya-the main character, is trying to figure things out. The story is a little bit mature but I liked how Aya came out of her shell.