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16 Books We Fell In Love With As Young Black Girls

"There are other girls out there too who are stowing away in their books because the outside world’s not that great."

Posted on May 17, 2016, at 11:52 a.m. ET

Meet Marley Dias.

This 11-year-old wonder from New Jersey got sick of reading books about "white boys and their dogs," so she started a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks that aims to collect children’s books featuring black girls as main characters.
Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

This 11-year-old wonder from New Jersey got sick of reading books about "white boys and their dogs," so she started a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks that aims to collect children’s books featuring black girls as main characters.

Marley visited the BuzzFeed podcast Another Round to talk about some of the books that have inspired her. Hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, plus writer Ashley Ford shared their picks as well. Listen here!

These are the books they mentioned:

1. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

"My grandmother specifically took very good care to find me books with little black girls in them. She had a hard time, so she ended up actually having me read a lot of books about animals, because she couldn't find too many books with young black girls as protagonists. Two of the books that she had for me and taught me to read with were Amazing Grace and Tar Beach, which was a really beautiful dreamscape book that I still think about a lot." - Ashley Ford
Crown Publishers

"My grandmother specifically took very good care to find me books with little black girls in them. She had a hard time, so she ended up actually having me read a lot of books about animals, because she couldn't find too many books with young black girls as protagonists. Two of the books that she had for me and taught me to read with were Amazing Grace and Tar Beach, which was a really beautiful dreamscape book that I still think about a lot." - Ashley Ford

2. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

"The little girl, Grace, is a performer, or wants to be a performer. For most of my life, I wanted to be an actress. I love the book because, part of it is that this little black girl is told that she can't play Peter Pan, because she's black and then also because she's a girl. Spoiler alert: in the end, not only does she get the role of Peter Pan, but she blows everybody away." - Ashley Ford
Penguin Young Readers Group

"The little girl, Grace, is a performer, or wants to be a performer. For most of my life, I wanted to be an actress. I love the book because, part of it is that this little black girl is told that she can't play Peter Pan, because she's black and then also because she's a girl. Spoiler alert: in the end, not only does she get the role of Peter Pan, but she blows everybody away." - Ashley Ford

3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

"Why am I not seeing this in school? Why is no one else telling me about these books? Why did my aunt have to go on Amazon and look for books about black girls, instead of going and finding one herself. It all hit me at once. " - Marley Dias
Penguin Group

"Why am I not seeing this in school? Why is no one else telling me about these books? Why did my aunt have to go on Amazon and look for books about black girls, instead of going and finding one herself. It all hit me at once. " - Marley Dias

4. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

"I read my mother's copy of one of Maya Angelou's memoirs, The Heart of a Woman, in about 4th grade. That led me to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." - Ashley Ford
Random House LLC

"I read my mother's copy of one of Maya Angelou's memoirs, The Heart of a Woman, in about 4th grade. That led me to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." - Ashley Ford

5. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

"This book is probably one of the first ones that taught me that the world is different for black girls than it is everybody else, and that its different for *all* black girls, not just some of us. It helped prep me for the tough battles ahead and it taught me that poetry and writing can be used as tools for those battles." - Tracy Clayton
Random House Publishing Group

"This book is probably one of the first ones that taught me that the world is different for black girls than it is everybody else, and that its different for *all* black girls, not just some of us. It helped prep me for the tough battles ahead and it taught me that poetry and writing can be used as tools for those battles." - Tracy Clayton

6. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

"One of the first times I felt represented in a book was probably Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It took me a long time to find that moment, when was like, 'Hey, I'm reading about somebody that could be me.'" - Tracy Clayton
Penguin Young Readers Group

"One of the first times I felt represented in a book was probably Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It took me a long time to find that moment, when was like, 'Hey, I'm reading about somebody that could be me.'" - Tracy Clayton

7. The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

"I didn't feel represented in pop culture. But I would sometimes skim over the descriptions of people in books—it's not really that important to me that she's brunette, and this-foot tall. With Harry Potter, for example, I thought I was Hermione. I obviously am. But once a person is cast in the role, you always associate it with that person, so it ruins the fun and the imagination of being able to see yourself in the story. I read a lot of books [as a kid], but none of them had black girls in them." - Heben Nigatu
Scholastic, Inc.

"I didn't feel represented in pop culture. But I would sometimes skim over the descriptions of people in books—it's not really that important to me that she's brunette, and this-foot tall. With Harry Potter, for example, I thought I was Hermione. I obviously am. But once a person is cast in the role, you always associate it with that person, so it ruins the fun and the imagination of being able to see yourself in the story. I read a lot of books [as a kid], but none of them had black girls in them." - Heben Nigatu

8. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

"I re-read it almost every year. It honestly is to me one of the most poignant books about women and grief that I have ever read in my entire life." - Ashley Ford
HarperCollins Publishers

"I re-read it almost every year. It honestly is to me one of the most poignant books about women and grief that I have ever read in my entire life." - Ashley Ford

9. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

"She made being a nosy loner sound like the coolest thing in the world." - Ashley Ford
Random House Children's Books

"She made being a nosy loner sound like the coolest thing in the world." - Ashley Ford

10. Matilda by Roald Dahl

"Matilda really captured for me that there are other girls out there too, who are just stowing away in their books because the outside world is not that great. Also I wanted my secret powers to finally come in." - Heben Nigatu
Penguin Young Readers Group

"Matilda really captured for me that there are other girls out there too, who are just stowing away in their books because the outside world is not that great. Also I wanted my secret powers to finally come in." - Heben Nigatu

11. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

"It was the first book I ever fell in love with. Could not put it down. It was a really pretty world that somebody else created. I thought, 'Anybody can do this.' I can think of a world where spiders talk. It was the first time that I thought, 'OK, I want to do this. I want to write a book one day that makes somebody feel the way this has made me feel. Charlotte knows my heart." - Tracy Clayton
HarperCollins Publishers

"It was the first book I ever fell in love with. Could not put it down. It was a really pretty world that somebody else created. I thought, 'Anybody can do this.' I can think of a world where spiders talk. It was the first time that I thought, 'OK, I want to do this. I want to write a book one day that makes somebody feel the way this has made me feel. Charlotte knows my heart." - Tracy Clayton

12. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

"It seemed like the most beautiful, crazy coloring book page you've ever colored, came to life." - Tracy Clayton
Macmillan Children's Books

"It seemed like the most beautiful, crazy coloring book page you've ever colored, came to life." - Tracy Clayton

13. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

"This book made me want to be a writer. I read it in third grade. I really liked the book, and wanted to understand it. So I used to copy my favorite passages into notebooks. I would memorize them. I loved both the performance element of it, and just the beauty of the words put together. I thought it was one of the most gorgeous things I'd ever read in my entire life." - Ashley Ford
The New Penguin Shakespeare

"This book made me want to be a writer. I read it in third grade. I really liked the book, and wanted to understand it. So I used to copy my favorite passages into notebooks. I would memorize them. I loved both the performance element of it, and just the beauty of the words put together. I thought it was one of the most gorgeous things I'd ever read in my entire life." - Ashley Ford

14. Peanuts by Charles Schulz

"Charlie Brown is amazed by everything. Because his whole life has been portrayed through these comic strips and the movie and these books, if I were to go his world and tell him everything about him, he would be so amazed by me. I would be the queen of wherever they live, and it would be awesome. And it wouldn't be that creepy, because they'll stay kids forever." - Marley Dias
Fantagraphics Books

"Charlie Brown is amazed by everything. Because his whole life has been portrayed through these comic strips and the movie and these books, if I were to go his world and tell him everything about him, he would be so amazed by me. I would be the queen of wherever they live, and it would be awesome. And it wouldn't be that creepy, because they'll stay kids forever." - Marley Dias

15. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

"[The Bluest Eye] about a black girl in a world where she is not the beauty standard. The first few pages, I was so taken aback by it that I had to put it down. I had not heard people articulate what it was like to be a black girl in that way. That experience that I had was incredible." - Heben Nigatu
Random House Inc.

"[The Bluest Eye] about a black girl in a world where she is not the beauty standard. The first few pages, I was so taken aback by it that I had to put it down. I had not heard people articulate what it was like to be a black girl in that way. That experience that I had was incredible." - Heben Nigatu

16. Croc On The Rock by Marion Clark

"You'll never guess who the main character is....it's a white boy and a dog! It's one of the first books I have ever read by myself. Which is hilarious. I love that book and still have it at my house now. I said to my mom 'Why did we pick this one?' It did teach me how to read, and expanded my vocabulary, and teach me how to speak in full, complete sentences. But at the same time, it's not what my project is about." - Marley Dias
Random House

"You'll never guess who the main character is....it's a white boy and a dog! It's one of the first books I have ever read by myself. Which is hilarious. I love that book and still have it at my house now. I said to my mom 'Why did we pick this one?' It did teach me how to read, and expanded my vocabulary, and teach me how to speak in full, complete sentences. But at the same time, it's not what my project is about." - Marley Dias

What books inspired you as a kid? Let us know in the comments or tweet at us @AnotherRound!

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