13-Year-Old Marley Dias Wants Every Black Girl To See Themselves Reflected In Books

Photo courtesy of Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

You might remember when Marley Dias first made headlines in 2016, after she launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign to celebrate diverse kidlit that wasn't all about "white boys and dogs." Now 13 years old, Dias has published a book of her own, Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!, which teaches tweens and teens how to organize their own campaigns. The activist and author recently answered Bustle's burning questions about what's going on in her life right now, and you can read all about what she has lined up on the horizon below.

Although she is best known for her work in diversity in publishing, Marley Dias would like to be seen as a normal teenager. "I want people to know that I am a regular 13-year-old," she says, "who has struggles and triumphs. I like being alone and I don’t like homework, especially today. I think that I’m not always perceived as a real person and that frustrates me sometimes. I put out the truth and everyday experiences of myself so that people can see me as their equal, not as just a little kid or as a public figure."

Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias, $10, Amazon

Marley Dias is an extraordinary human being, and we're so lucky to be able to witness all of her great work.

Marley Dias First Saw The Impact Of Her Campaign At Her Old Elementary School

Courtesy of Scholastic/Marley Dias

“The first evidence of a change happened at my old elementary school. Because of my campaign, [Rita Williams-Garcia's] One Crazy Summer was chosen as the book for all fifth graders to read,” she says. “I have received lots of emails that suggest that something is happening within schools, but I do not know what is happening in the publishing industry, but I do know that books written by people of color are receiving a lot of awards. Maybe that will have a positive impact on the publishing world.”

She's Always Excited To Hear Others' Ideas For More Inclusive Learning Spaces

“One of the most inspiring parts has been to witness the change happen in my old school,” says Dias. “Other parts that really touch me include meeting and talking with kids, and learning about their ideas of how to create greater inclusion in their school and neighborhood. I am also excited by the Twitter messages and letters from teachers and parents who are changing their personal and school libraries to be more inclusive.”

Dias Doesn't Know If She Will Write More Books In The Future

Courtesy of Scholastic/Marley Dias

“I don’t know if I want to write more books in the future,” Dias says. “Right now I am focused on seeing how others react to [Marley Dias Gets It Done], and then I will gauge to see if there is more of a need for more stories by me.

“Nothing is really set in stone for me and I want to pursue whatever I feel passionate about. I am very excited to see what’s to come as I become and teen and young adult. I do feel lucky enough to know that my mom and my dad will support me in whatever those endeavors are.”

She Started A Black Girl Book Club In 2017

“Right now we are working on the #1000BlackGirlBooks app,” she says.” I want to use the app as a tool to share the resource guide listed on GrassROOTS Community Foundation website. I also want to use the app to support self-published authors and elevate their stories. My goal is to link readers to all the authors and for those who are not with big publishing houses this will be especially important.

“Next, we are working on Black Girl Book Club, which is something we launched in summer of 2017 at the GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s SuperCamp. Working with the foundation, I want to create an international community of people reading black girls books. This can be as an after-school club, or a summer activity, but we want to provide resources to teachers and caregivers and students to organize a way to see, discuss, and learn about diverse people.”

Dias Wants To Train Other Girls And Young Women To Be Strong, Inspiring Leaders

Courtesy of Scholastic/Marley Dias

“Anyone who has read the book knows about GrassROOTS, my mother’s foundation. At GrassROOTS and through SuperCamp, I received the training I need to be an activist,” Dias says. “I am transitioning from a student in the program to an assistant in the work. I have learned over the course of this project that there is not a lot of funding for programs like SuperCamp. I want to use my platform to be able support the expansion of this program. This summer, SuperCamp will expand to Philadelphia. I am going to do everything I can so that girls can have the training they need to be leaders.”