Black Girl Protagonists

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Marley Dias with her donated books. (Photo credit: Andrea Cipriani Mecchi at NPR news)

Congratulations and kudos to fifth-grade reader  Marley Dias for exceeding her goal of  collecting 1,000 books with black girl protagonists to donate to her school in New Jersey and to the parish in Jamaica where her mom grew up.

“I started this because in my fifth-grade class I was only able to read books about white boys and their dogs. I understood that my teacher could connect with those characters, so he asked us to read those books. But I didn’t relate to them, so I didn’t learn lessons from those stories,” Dias told the Guardian.

Librarians often talk about children’s and teen fiction as being windows and mirrors–windows to other cultures and places the reader is not familiar with, but also mirrors reflecting back young readers’ own lives as they shape their identity. What a long overdue service Marley is offering to all readers, regardless of their gender or race–windows and mirrors into the lives of black girls.

GCP cover high resEerdmans Books for Young Readers and I are excited to be sending Marley a copy of A Girl Called Problem. We think she just might identify with the spunk of the main character, Shida.

Thanks for your efforts, Marley!

(To learn more about Marley’s story, and to read her list of favorite books, check out this public radio story).

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