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#1000BlackGirlBooks: 11-Year-Old Philanthropist Launches International Book Drive

Photo credit: GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF)
When 11-year-old Marley Dias got tired of reading books about “dogs and white boys” and yearned to read stories about awesome Black girls like herself, she decided to do something about it.

“My parents have taught me the value of reading and self-love through books that have characters that look like me and talk like me. I want to make sure other Black girls around the world can see and love themselves, too, through these books,” Marley said in a statement to the press.

Dias came up with the idea for #1000BlackGirlBooks, an international book drive, over dinner with her mother, Dr. Janice Dias Johnson, one night. When Marley expressed her frustration over the lack of diversity in literature, her mother asked her what she was going to do about it.

“And I told her I was going to start a book drive where Black girls are the main characters in the book and not background or minor characters,” Dias told Philly Voice in a recent interview.

Earlier this month, the 11-year-old teamed up with GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF), to turn her international book drive idea into reality. GCF is a New Jersey-based public health and social action organization founded in 2011 by Dias’ mother and Tariq Trotter, lead MC of the hip-hop group, The Roots.

Philly Voice reports that #1000BlackGirlBooks has already met half of its goal of collecting 1,000 books by February to donate to the Retreat Primary and Junior School and Library in the parish of St. Mary, Jamaica, where Dr. Dias was raised. #1000BlackGirlBooks has also already garnered the support of Scholastic Books, among other contributors.

“For young Black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they or their friends have,” Dias’ mother, Janice, told the Philly Voice.

#1000BlackGirlBooks isn’t Marley’s only philanthropic project. Last year, she scored Disney’s Friend for Change grant, which helps young people turn their creative ideas into community projects and has traveled to Ghana to feed orphans. The aspiring magazine editor also blogs about her social action projects for BAM, a social network for adolescent girls supported by GCF.

On February 11, Marley will travel to Jamaica with fellow BAM bloggers to deliver the #1000BlackGirlBooks and host a book fair.