NPR Interviews Young Visionary Behind #1000BlackGirlBooks


Marley Dias loves to read. But the New Jersey 11-year-old—who, among other things, has traveled to Ghana to help feed orphans and received a grant from Disney—has made it her latest passion to collect children's books featuring black female protagonists so she and other students can have role models in fiction that include people like themselves.The project, #1000BlackGirlBooks, saw its beginning when Dias commented to her mother that she was "sick of reading about white boys and dogs." Determined to show that there are wonderful black girl protagonists—and to introduce the books to schools and show that reading is enhanced by including diverse perspectives—Dias set out to collect 1,000 such books by the beginning of February. She's currently at 4,000 books and counting.

Dias spoke with NPR's Morning Edition about her effort and the importance of students being able to identify with protagonists.

"I think it's important in general for kids to be reading books with diversity. When you read about a character that you can connect with, you'll remember the things that they learned, so if I like hair bows, and the character I'm reading about likes hair bows; I'll remember what he or she learned in that book because I have something in common with them," Dias told Morning Edition's David Greene.

Read an excerpt and listen to the interview, and click through to check out the rest of the article, including book recommendations from Dias.

NPR Ed - (Excerpt) Black girls, like Marley, were almost never the main character.

What she was noticing is actually a much bigger issue: Fewer than 10 percent of children's books released in 2015 had a black person as the main character, according to a yearly analysis by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And while the number of children's books about minorities has increased in the past 20 years, many classroom libraries have older books.

Last fall, Marley decided to do something about it. She set a goal of collecting 1,000 books about black girls by the beginning of February, and #1000blackgirlbooks was born.