Marley Dias,16, said she’s always been a bookworm. As an only child, she said going to the library was entertaining for her.
“My parents used to get frustrated with the number of books I would request, finish, and then want to read over and over again,” Dias said.
At an early age, Dias said she noticed a growing number of diverse books on the shelves at the library, but not in the classroom.
“Even though my teachers cared about reading and cared about my identity, they didn’t always make sure that they were sharing diverse books. So I became frustrated because I knew they were out there, and my mom encouraged me to do something about it,” Dias said.
Dias started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign at age 10. A book drive for stories featuring black main characters. She’s now collected and donated over 13,000 black girl books, including one she wrote herself, ‘Marley Dias Gets It Done and So Can You.’ A guide for kids about using their passion to create change.
“It’s about everyday problem solving, identifying patterns of injustice, trying our best to speak up and be upstanders and be kind to make change,” said Dias.
Although Dias lives in New Jersey, her impact can be felt across the nation even in Orlando. Her book is available on the shelf of the downtown branch library.
“Seeing your book on the shelf, it’s one of the most grateful feelings you can possibly have,” said Dias. “I’m proud of the people that take my messages, bring them into their own communities and continue to do whatever work makes them feel passionate and change the world.”
Dias is also sharing her passion for reading as the American Library Association’s honorary chair for ‘Library Card Sign-Up Month’. She joins the Orange County Library System and libraries nationwide to encourage children to sign up for a library card.
“For other kids who are hesitant. I want to remind them that the most valuable resource is the librarian. If you want to go on the computer and play games, if you want to look up something about your town’s history, or just borrow a book, they will support and help you along the way,” Dias said.
There are also free online resources like live tutoring, educational programming and eBooks available to library members. Click here to signup for a free OCLS library card.