Marley Dias is only eleven, but she’s noticed something that slips right by many adults. Something about the books she reads for school.

They’re not about her.

She loves to read, but even at the age of ten, she was tired of reading books about white boys, dogs, and white boys with dogs, to paraphrase her own words.

And she wasn’t wrong. Fewer than 10% of all the children’s books released in 2015 had a black main character, and that’s an all-time high. Virtually no classic works of children’s literature used in schools have any black people at all.

In the fall of 2015, she set herself a goal. She would collect 1000 children’s books about black girls by the beginning of February 2016. With the help of her mother, her school librarian, and the internet–but mostly her own determination–she made that goal. And now in June, she’s nearly quadrupled it.

What’s next? Dias wants to set up a black girl book club for all those like her who just want to read about themselves in literature and persuade school districts across the country to consider changing what books they assign to students.

She loved reading Where the Red Fern Grows and Shiloh for school in the third grade but wishes they’d assigned books like One Crazy Summer and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, too.

Her ever-growing list of black girl books includes books for all ages, from bedtime picture books like Please, Baby, Please to meatier options like Brown Girl Dreaming.

Most of Dias’s reading list has been donated to her, often with multiple copies, and she plans to stock as many libraries with the collection as she can. She is always accepting donations, both off her list and of any other books about black girls that people may discover.

Books or suggestions can be sent to Marley Dias at:
59 Main Street, Suite 323
West Orange, NJ 07052