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#1000BlackGirlBooks Campaign Exceeds Goal

by on March 23, 2016

Last fall, Marley Dias, with help from her mother and two friends, set out to collect a thousand books with relatable, black female lead characters. They are planning on donating the books to area schools that both Marley and her mother have attended. In an interview with People, mother Janice Johnson Dias said, “This movement is obviously very personal to Marley, but it also highlights the need for diversity in literature.” So they started collecting books and held a book fair. As the momentum grew, so did Marley’s profile. She appeared on Fox29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” then landed a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where Ellen and photo-giant Shutterfly gifted her with a check for $10,000.

According to an interview Dias did with NPR, the group has well exceeded their goal by collecting about four thousand books at last count. The drive ended at the beginning of February, but Dias told NPR she hopes to create a “black girl book club” and change the type of books that are assigned to students in school. Dias has said she was tired of reading books about white boys and their dogs, or both. She had read Where the Red Fern Grows and Shiloh, but longed for something more like her favorite book, Newbery Honor Book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

According to a yearly analysis by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, less than 10 percent of children’s books published in 2015 had a black person as the main character, even less with a black female. And while campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books have brought the problem to the forefront, many schools collections are lagging in this area.

Here are some more titles that are perfect for school or public library collections.  Marley’s Top Five books, as told to NPR, are followed by an asterisk (*). What are some of your favorite #1000BlackGirlBooks?

Picture Books

  1. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
  2. I Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker
  3. Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
  4. Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron
  5. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
  6. Wow! It Sure Is Good To Be You by Cynthia Jabar
  7. The Color of Us by Karen Katz
  8. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee*
  9. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
  10. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
  11. The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora
  12. Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson
  13. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Chapter Books & Series

  1. Ruby and the Booker Boys by Derrick Barnes
  2. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
  3. Sassy series by Sharon M. Draper
  4. Nikki and Deja series by Karen English
  5. Sugar Plum Ballerinas series by Whoopi Goldberg & Deborah Underwood
  6. The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith
  7. Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
  8. Miss You, Mina by Denene Millner
  9. Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  10. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor*
  11. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia*
  12. President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston*
  13. Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods


  1. Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman
  2. The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson
  3. Heaven by Angela Johnson
  4. Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  5. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
  6. This Side of Home by Renee Watson
  7. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson*
  8. Hush by Jacqueline Woodson
  9. When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright

Historical Biographies

  1. Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louis Borden & Mary Kay Kroeger
  2. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  3. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
  4. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
  5. Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  6. When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
  7. Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder
  8. Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter


CBCC: Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations

People: 11-Year-Old Girl Starts Social Movement Promoting Books with ‘Strong, Black Female’ Main Characters

NPR: Where’s The Color In Kids’ Lit? Ask The Girl With 1,000 Books (And Counting)

GrassROOTS Community Foundation

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