Marley Dias: She’s Advocating for #1000BlackGirlBooks

April 20 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: Hit the Books

I checked out a TED Talk presented by a woman named Lisa Bu I’ve got to share because I think many of us can relate to her story. Lisa’s parents expected her to pursue a well-paying job, with little care as to its fulfillment. When she emigrated from China as a child, she discovered some wonderful adult advice from a source outside her mom and dad: books. Jane Eyre taught her independence, while Cheaper by the Dozen imparted efficiency. Books became her magic portal to other worlds and a way to connect with people. They provided her with a whole new point of view that impacted her life in a way she never could have imagined. With that, I bestow you with Lisa Bu’s final words from that TED Talk: May books be always with you.


One of the best things about reading, especially when you’re a kid, is getting lost in the story of someone you can relate to. But that can be difficult if you’re not a stereotypical white dude, as they have long dominated the literary landscape as authors and hero characters. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed 3,400 U.S. trade books published in 2016, and found a grave lack of diverse representation in main characters. Only 8.4 percent of protagonists were African-American, 1.6 percent were Native American, 5 percent were Latino and 7 percent were of Asian or Pacific descent.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Marley Dias, Founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks

If you need a kick in the pants to get on the reading bandwagon, I bet the story of this teenager will do it. Marley Dias is the youngest person to make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She’s an amazing self-starter and a bona fide champion of books who’s changing the landscape of modern American literature through her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.

As an 11-year-old, Marley loved sharing her penchant for books with others. But her fifth-grade reading list was blah and uninspired, most often featuring stories about, as Marley says, “white boys and their dogs.” But that wasn’t her reality. She longed for more books about young black girls. Though dispirited, Marley was hardly willing to accept the status quo. In fact, Marley had a revolutionary idea.

Her objective was simple yet extensive: Collect and donate 1,000 books featuring African-American girls as the main characters. It was no easy task, and Marley’s mission would take some serious research and resolve. Luckily, this little girl had those characteristics in abundance.

Since first launching her campaign in late 2015, Marley has collected more than 9,000 books and garnered an audience of well-known do-gooders, many of whom have referred to Marley as a future president.

But this high-achieving social activist isn’t stopping there. In fact, Scholastic recently announced it will publish a nonfiction book for kids 10 and older written by Marley herself. Part great read, part keep-it-real guide, Marley aims to inspire fellow kids to embrace literacy, as well as activism and social justice.

If you’re looking to add some good books to your reading nook, check out Marley’s top five picks. She loves poetry book Brown Girl Dreaming and the historical fiction story One Crazy Summer. Another inspiring choice is President of the Whole Fifth Grade and the classic narrative Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry. Marley also likes the comedic book for little kiddos called Please, Baby, Please.

So, what are you waiting for? Take some inspiration from this girl wonder, grab your library card or head to the bookstore and get to reading!


Prominent and groundbreaking writer bell hooks said:

“No black woman writer in this culture can write too much. Indeed, no woman writer can write too much. ... No woman has ever written enough.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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