When I was young, my favorite book character was Claudia Kishi from The Babysitters Club series. My love went so deep that I started hiding candy in my room like she did until my mom found out and was afraid that I was becoming a hoarder and made me stop. I loved her style, the fact that she was artistic, her poor spelling, and the fact that she wasn’t white.
Most of my books were about white girls, all of the rest of the core babysitters (until Jessie appeared later in the series), all of the cheerleaders in Fear Street. The twins and almost all of her friends in Sweet Valley High (except for the girl that was hiding the shame of being secretly Mexican, wut??), the list goes on and on. I thought that if I squinted a little, Claudia Kishi, who was Japanese could look kind of Puerto Rican.
No? Well I tried!
This is one of the many reasons why I am so happy to see Marley Dias’ bookdrive receiving so much media love! Dias is an avid reader who wanted to see more characters that “looked like her” in the books that she loved. As she aptly put it, she was tired of reading books about “white boys and dogs.” Oh yes, I remember this feeling. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for Shiloh and Where the Red Fern Grows. But it is 2016 and we still have a very unequal representation in children’s books. It shouldn’t have been as easy as it was to list all most of the books that I have in my library that feature African American girls as main characters.
The campaign has a hashtag (#1000blackgirlbooks) and a goal, to collect as many books as possible for a bookfair in St. Mary, Jamaica. Here is her interview:
HERE is a link to Marley’s non-profit. The book drive has ended but you can still send money to her non-profit BAM. Suggested donation for this project is 10 dollars!