Watch CBSN Live

An 11-year-old book lover's drive for change

A library found that of the 3,500 children’s books it received last year, only 261 were about black people and just 100 came from black authors
A library found that of the 3,500 children’... 04:20

For 11-year-old Marley Dias, a good book opens the world.

"You always have words. You're able to express your emotions when you read," Dias said.

But there are some books she's assigned in school she's grown tired of.

"When we actually got into the classroom, the books were just mainly about white boys and dogs," Dias said.


Marley wanted books she could relate to - with characters like her.

"So I just went to my mom and then she told me, 'Well, what are you going to do about it?'" Marley said.

She started a book drive. The idea was simple, but ambitious - to collect 1,000 books about black girls.

"And we started posting pictures on Instagram of me holding black girl books and pretending to read them. And then, flash - we added a hashtag, and now it's become a full-on book drive," Marley said.

She came up with the hashtag, #1000BlackGirlBooks.

"Well, we know that social media is like the main outlet for us to get anything that we want now, so it needed to be fun, catchy and just something easy to remember. So we wanted 1,000 books and wanted them to be black girls, so you just kind of smack them together and you got a hashtag," Marley said.

Dias family

Marley's initial apprehension about finding 1,000 books has now been replaced with excitement. First, local media got wind of her drive, which led to appearances with Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show and with Ellen DeGeneres.

The books began arriving and stacking up. By the time "CBS This Morning" visited, Marley had collected close to 1,300 books. Marley's favorite among them is "Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson.

Woodson - who won both the prestigious Newbery Award and a National Book Award for "Brown Girl Dreaming" - knows the importance of identifying with characters in a book.

"Seeing a story on a page about a black child written by a black author not only legitimizes your own existence in the world, because you're a part of something else. 'Look, I'm here in this book,'" Woodson said.

Dias family

Last week, Marley donated the 1,000 books to a primary school in rural St. Mary, Jamaica, where her mother is from. Marley and a team of volunteers gave them away to many Jamaican children with limited access to books.

Marley said she loves "being the boss" and reading and writing, and aspires to be a magazine editor for her own magazine. She also said she will consider writing her own book, "when I am ready."

And it's fair to guess that book will have a very impressive main character.

Those who would like to donate books to Marley's drive can sent them to:

59 Main Street
Suite 323
West Orange, NJ 07052

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.