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11-year-old girl sparks change with diversity book drive

Marley Dias donates diverse books to different cities. (Source: WPIX/CNN/DIAS FAMILY) Marley Dias donates diverse books to different cities. (Source: WPIX/CNN/DIAS FAMILY)

WEST ORANGE, NJ (WPIX/CNN) - Marley Dias, 11, was tired of reading books about white boys and their dogs, so she began looking for stories about black girls.

Now, the New York Public Library is offering a reading list based on this young book hunter's journey.

She's smart. She's serious. And she's making a mark.

"I was able to collect 7,000 books and I've donated to six different cities," Dias said.

Marley is a girl with a mission that started inside her West Orange, New Jersey classroom.

"I wasn't seeing black girls represented in the books we were reading. I wasn't seeing characters like me or diverse experiences," she said.

This 11-year-old is changing that, with one simple hashtag, #1000blackgirlbooks, to find stories where black girls are the main characters.

Marley is just touching the surface of a much larger issue. Only about eight percent of children's books released in 2015 were about people of color. While that number has increased over the years, many schools have an older selection.

"I didn't actually tell my teacher about the issue, I decided to do it in a different way. I knew how to find diverse books in my community, but I wanted to do it for other communities that I know do not have these resources," she said.

Communities like Jamaica is where she made her first donation, but her impact is being felt across the literary world. We visited the New York public library, where they've developed a collection just for her cause.

"It's very cool, I think it's interesting how I've been able to make an impact," Dias said.

And from what we saw, that influence is already connecting with the next generation.

Copyright 2016 WPIX via CNN. All rights reserved.

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