Wednesday on The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore had on Marley Dias, the New Jersey 11-year-old who—after becoming sick of reading almost exclusively about “white boys and dogs—made it her mission to collect 1,000 books featuring black girl protagonists and distribute those books at schools in both the U.S. and Jamaica.

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Dias, who’s collected “about a thousand books” so far explained the importance of seeing reflections of yourself in fiction, saying, “When you read a story about a person you connect with—like, well, you host a TV show, so if you were to read a book about a black man who hosts a TV show, you would remember whatever he learned and use it on the show.”

Among her favorite books, she names Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, a series of poems about growing up black in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and ‘70s.

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Dias appeared in front of the audience with seemingly unflappable confidence and a wisdom far greater than any most of us possessed at age 11.

As host Larry Wilmore put it, “She’s like the Johnny Appleseed of books not about Johnny Appleseed.”


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

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Image via The Nightly Show/Comedy Central.