One Girl Scout is on a mission to diversify books within local schools’ libraries, and she’s collected nearly 300 titles so far.
Melia Frazier, 11, said her school had Harry Potter books and the American Girl series, but none of the books featured people who looked like her. Melia is Black.
Her mom, Nikki Thompson-Frazier, supplies those books for Melia at home, but that’s not the case at school.
Frazier’s Black Girl Book Drive is set up to address that problem. The book collection idea stemmed from teenage activist Marley Dias, who started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign in 2015.
Melia is collecting books until Aug. 14.
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The project will help Melia win a Girl Scout Bronze award, which is given to those who complete sustainable community projects.
“It goes from little kids to older kids,” Melia said. “There are some picture books and then some chapter books.”
One of the books she’s collected is “A Good Kind of Trouble” by Lisa Moore Ramée. Melia said it is one of her favorites that she is reading.
Nyshell Lawrence, owner of Socialight Society, created a space on her bookstore’s website (www.socialightsociety.com/melia) for monetary and book donations for Melia’s project. Lawrence sells books to Frazier’s project at a discount.
“We have a curated list of books that highlight Black girls and they can pick a book there,” Lawrence said. “We have a box in-store for people to place books there. They can make monetary donations for Melia to purchase books to add to the collection.”
Customers can buy books at any store in the Lansing Mall and drop them off in the appropriate box. Another drop box is located at the Lotus Beauty Lounge inside the Meridian Mall.
The books range from young adults to preschool.
“As for Black girls being the major character, here in Lansing we have a Black woman-owned bookstore, so why not partner with them to give exposure to her bookstore, as well as the need for more African American focused literature for kids to know about, for parents to know about, as we start to share the other narrative out there,” Terry Frazier, Melia’s father, said.
All of the titles collected from Lawrence’s store will be compiled at Sweet Encounter for the Fraziers to divvy up where the books will go among Greater Lansing schools and the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing.
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Terry Frazier said he hopes school districts will review curriculum to determine whether students of color are being adequately represented in literature and whether other subjects, such as math, are being taught equitably.
Terry Frazier said he’s amazed at the books Melia has collected because he didn’t see these types of literature when he was growing up. Students will be inspired by the authors of those books and their biographies, he added, to know they can achieve anything.
“It’s really giving little kids the opportunity to read, see themselves and really build that self-esteem that ‘I am somebody,’ ‘I can see this,'” he said.
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Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.