Marley Dias loves nothing more than getting lost in a book. But the 12-year-old grew frustrated with the reading list she was assigned at school. A black girl was hardly ever a main character. So Marley took matters into her own hands.
In November 2015, she set out to gather 1,000 books with black girls as protagonists. Her campaign—#1000BlackGirlBooks—was a big success. She collected more than 10,000 books!
“Through my campaign, I want to give kids a stronger sense of identity,” Marley says. Now the young activist has written a book of her own. Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You will be published in January 2018. Marley talked to TFK’s Rebecca Katzman about her passions and challenges.
1. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from your #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign?
That kids’ voices need to be heard more by adults. Kids have a voice that’s getting drowned out by our school system, our parents, and caregivers in our community. Through my campaign, I want to give kids a stronger sense of identity.
2. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve come up against?
It’s really tough to see people who don’t understand their value. It’s important for girls to trust in books to support them and allow them to grow. Sometimes it is hard to get people to break out of their comfort zone. After black girls read that first book they relate to, the end result is awesome.
3. What can you tell us about your upcoming book?
It’s a story about how I’ve been able to use my gifts and talents to make the world a better place, and how kids really can do that too. The goal is to help systems change. I also want to help kids feel comfortable to speak about issues they feel passionate about.
4. Do you have a favorite book?
I get to read a lot of new books. I can’t really pinpoint one. But Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, is one of the Number 1 books I’ve ever read.
5. Any advice for kids who want to make a difference?
Always follow your passion. If you like basketball, play basketball. That’s your thing. If it’s what you love, you’ll continue to do it even if you don’t always feel successful. My book has information about how passion and frustration can be blended in a way that’s really efficient.