From #1000BlackGirlBooks to a Movement: Marley Dias's Journey
Source: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

From #1000BlackGirlBooks to a Movement: Marley Dias's Journey


Dec. 5 2023, Published 9:31 a.m. ET

Marley Dias has been in the spotlight due to her book drive that champions representation in children's literature. While in sixth grade, Dias had gotten tired of reading books about white boys and their dogs. This motivated her to start collecting books with stories about black girls. Eventually, this led to the creation of the 1,000 black girl books movement. Since she started her campaign, she has distributed thousands of books in libraries and schools.

The Inception of the Book Drive

The idea of her book drive came about at their dinner table during her fifth-grade graduation. At the time, she told her mom that the stories she read didn't have black characters. So, her mother encouraged her to take the necessary steps to effect a change.

Marley's burning desire to make a change led her to start her book drive in the local community. She began by talking to her family, friends about it, and they were open to the idea of collecting the books. Her target was to collect 1,000 books and donate them to schools in St. Marys Jamaica, where her mother grew up. To scale her book collection efforts, Dias took to social media.

While she got a lot of positive responses from the comment section, some of them didn't match her expectations. For instance, one of the people commented that if she wanted to see black people, she should read obituaries. Regardless of the troll, her campaign collected over 9,000 books in a few months. Her campaigns also helped to sensitize the public on the need for children to read books with stories of black girls.

Becoming A Voice of Change in Literature

Marley Dias has been expanding her campaign on inclusivity in literature by organizing literacy tours, such as "Marley D's Reading Party." During the tours, she would stop at different cities and talk about books with black girls' stories and promote the titles she loves the most. Additionally, teachers, parents, and children can use her website to select books with stories that resonate with them

Dias has also taken her activism globally after becoming the Read Across America ambassador. Through this sponsorship, she participated in the 2021 Read Across America Jamaica Day, where she distributed over 500 books in Jamaica. Besides Read Across America, Marley has also donated over 1,500 books to schools in Jamaica in collaboration with the Book Industry Association of Jamaica and the GrassROOTS Community Foundation.

In addition to collecting and distributing books from different authors, Marley has also authored "Marley Dias Get It Done— And So Can You," which she distributes with other titles she collects. Her book is about how ten-year-old girls can use their gifts and talents to change the world uniquely. Marley has managed to use her book drive campaigns to promote diversity because it was a problem that resonated with her. So, she's using the book to let other kids know that they can make it and that it's not as complicated as it seems.

Championing For Diversity in Children's Literature

For most young black girls, reading books without a black girl as a protagonist isn't a problem, but this wasn't the case for Marley Diaz. She had difficulty resonating with the characters in the books she was given at school. She began to find books with black girls' stories to make a difference. Over the years, she has donated the books in America and worldwide.

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