What a blessing. I received the most amazing news.
Over the weekend I was knee-deep in cupcakes. Really!
My daughter’s color guard team had a home event. That meant mommy was called upon to donate for the bake sale. A few hundred cupcakes and Rice Krispie treats later, the event was a yummy success. However, the great news wasn’t the the bake sale windfall.
Wonderful ‘tween inspiration, 11-year-old Marley Dias, of New Jersey, began a personal trek to collect 1000 books featuring black girl characters to be donated to black girls. She began a Twitter campaign #1000blackgirlbooks. And became a media darling. Little Miss Marley has met and surpassed her original goal. Better than that, she has brought the discussion of diversity in books to the world. Brava, my dear!
Well, this weekend in an NPR interview, Marley named her top five favorite books featuring African American girl main characters. And amazingly, President of the Whole Fifth Grade was on the list. I couldn’t be more honored. The same reason Marley started her journey–…because she got tired of books about white boys and dogs–is the reason I became an author. I write to give voice to young people who dream. I grew up wanting to do EVERYTHING. And I was always shocked when the black girls around me didn’t share that feeling. That joy of discovery.
Marley’s effort to find stories that reflect the totality of her world and not focus on simply negative or stereotypical imagery defines my personal mission to keep finding ways to say, “Yes, you can!” My hope is now that her drive has been a success, she will continue. Collecting books with kick-butt African American girls as lead, and donating them to children of all colors. I think a white boy with a dog could love a strong character lead.
What an honor that Marley connected with the message and journey of my heroine, Brianna Justice, the same way I’m delighting in her journey. Thank you, Little Miss Marley Dias. You feel like someone I dreamed up for a fantastic book. Only better. Because you’re real–and wonderful. To read the NPR interview: