Marley Dias was 10 the day she came home from school to eat pancakes with her mother and vented her frustration at being assigned to read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Again.

“It is one of those ‘classic books’ that’s existed in our school systems for so long. My great-grandparents remember when that book came out. I read it last year and it was still assigned. Every single year they wanted us to read a book about a white boy and his dog.”

Dias decided to collect books with black girl leads to raise awareness of books with diverse characters and the over-representation of books with white leads in the school system. Her target was 1,000 books, which she would then send to a school in Jamaica that her mother had attended. “I didn’t pick my own school because I realized that even in all-black spaces like Jamaica, where it is majority black people, they don’t see themselves, and the narratives of white people are still being pushed on to people.”

She created a hashtag, #1000BlackGirlBooks, which started to pick up pace and soon catapulted the young Dias into the limelight…