In 2016, now 13-year-old Marley Dias realized she was fed up with the lack of books with black girl protagonists. She decided to start a movement to advocate for books that weren't about "white boys and dogs" and #1000BlackGirlBooks was born. "One of the most inspiring parts has been to witness the change happen in my old school," Dias tells Bustle.
Aija Mayrock was bullied for much of her childhood. She knew she wasn't alone in experiencing humiliating, violent, and emotionally turbulent acts of harassment, but she didn't know what she could do to help other kids. One day, however, it became clear: She'd write a book. "I made a commitment to myself that I was going to write this book and do everything I could to get it into kids’ hands," she tells Bustle.
As the Director of the Youth Free Expression Program at the National Coalition Against Censorship, Abena Hutchful shows up to work each day prepared to fight against the censorship of books and other media, specifically books and media aimed at kids. "The purpose of this is to amplify the voices of young people, to teach students about their rights under the First Amendment and what they are entitled to in school, so that they can defend themselves," she tells Bustle.
Four years ago, Chessy Prout was sexually assaulted while attending St. Paul's School in New Hampshire. Since then, she's made it her mission to make rape culture a thing of the past. Her latest stepping stone on that journey? Her new book, I Have The Right To. "I hope to save other survivors from that confusion that I felt," she tells Bustle.
Kaya Thomas always had trouble finding books with protagonists who looked like her. So she used her talents as a coder to create an app that connects kids, parents, and teachers to diverse books. "Being a reader and having that external experience where you're reading and you're getting new perspectives from different worlds, it makes you realize that there are so many life experiences besides your own," Thomas tells Bustle.
Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi were sophomores in high school when they realized something about their school's curriculum: There just wasn't a good resource to facilitate honest, frank, and intellectually rigorous discussions about race. So, they decided to write a textbook on racial literacy, drawing on stories from people of color throughout their town. "Race had a played in our lives from childhood," Guo tells Bustle. "But we had never had the words to even have a conversation about it."
Patrice Caldwell believes the only solution to the lack of diversity in books is diversifying publishing as a whole. That's why she founded People of Color in Publishing as a resource for young POC. "People of Color in Publishing has allowed people to better make the decision [to stay in publishing or leave] and to have the support networks should they want it," she tells Bustle.