Of the many interests, Queen Jules and I share, one of which kombucha is not, reading is greatly enjoyed by both of us. I don’t hold a candle to the sheer quantity of books Queen Jules can read in a year. This woman is RABID for books. I mean she read like 1,572,391 books last year!
My love of books started as a child and oddly enough Nancy Reagan played a huge part of it. When I was a kid in the 80s, there were two dangers everyone was aware of by watching TV — drugs and illiteracy. Since there was no real danger of me falling prey to the former, let’s discuss the latter. An early episode of Saved by the Bell back when it was called Good Morning Miss Bliss featured a new kid (it’s almost always a new kid) who ended up bullying his classmates and cheating off their exams because he couldn’t read.
This trope was so prevalent it was also featured on The Cosby Show, Mr. Belvedere, Charles in Charge, Good Times, Mama’s Family, Little House on the Prairie (understandable), and Star Trek Deep Space Nine (this makes absolutely no sense to me!). Anyway, before I digress too far… this was such a major concern that the Reagans partnered with Pizza Hut to create Book It which promoted reading and rewarding kids with a personal pan pizza. This is such an awesome 80s solution that I am beside myself by how easily I was tricked into reading and EATING a ton of pizza. Like my Mom would pick me up from school, and I would have a coupon for a free personal pan pizza and I would smugly demand a pepperoni pizza because I DESERVED IT for reading Super Fudge or whatever Judy Blume book I picked up at school.
To this day, I have an unhealthy relationship with pizza. It’s the best comfort food imaginable, all the cheese, carbs, and no need for utensils make it the most perfect food ever. And to be fair, I still very much love reading. All my closest friends are good readers and we chat about the best books we’ve read recently.
So, while I was reading and eating my way through several pizzas, precocious 12-year-old Marley Dias was taking the children’s lit world by storm. It all started when Marley got completely fed up about reading books about white boys and their dogs. These were the only books available in her school, and I feel you girl, how many plots about white boys and their dogs can you read? Marley decided to do something about it, and thus a badass activist was born. In 2015, Marley started a movement called #1000BlackGirlBooks and her goal was to collect 1,000 books featuring Black female protagonists by February 2016. Well it’s been one year since her deadline and Marley collected over 8,000 books that meet her criteria!
Look at this young social change maker! Other than wanting to be her best friend and read books and eat personal pan pizzas with her, I can’t wait to see what her future holds. But wait! There’s more! We don’t need to wait for Marley to be an adult because she’s going full steam ahead with her activism.
Being the super hero that Marley is, she donated 1,000 books to a school in Jamaica where her mother grew up, as well as to schools in Philadelphia, Newark, and West Orange, New Jersey where it all began. Put down those books about white boys and their dogs, because there are choices now.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Scholastic will be publishing a book written by Marley Dias in the spring of 2018. The book will be intended for other kids around Marley’s age to show them how to make their dreams come true. According to Scholastic, “This book explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, using social media for good (not just makeup tutorials and angry tweets), and shows how young people can galvanize their strengths to make positive changes in our world.” And most importantly it will be about literacy and diversity.
Wow, Marley! You amaze me. Keep being you, Marley.
P.S. Can we hang out? PUH-LEASE!