Melia Frazier needs your help to collect 1,000 miscellaneous books

One Girl Scout is on a mission to diversify the books in local school libraries, and it has collected nearly 300 titles to date.

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 mother, Nikki Thompson-Frazier, provides Melia with these books at home, but not at school.

Frazier’s Black Girl Book Drive is set up to solve this problem. The idea for the book collection originated with teenage activist Marley Dias, who launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign in 2015.

Melia is collecting books until August 14.

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The project will help Melia win a Girl Scout Bronze award, which is given to those who carry out sustainable community projects.

“It goes from little kids to older kids,” Melia said. “There are picture books, then chapter books.”

Melia Frazier, 11, a sixth-grader at Windemere Elementary poses with her book collection box at her parents' Sweet Encounter Bakery in downtown Lansing on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

One of the books she collected is “A Good Kind of Trouble” by Lisa Moore Ramée. Melia said it’s one of her favorites that she reads.

Nyshell Lawrence, owner of Socialight Society, has created a space on her bookstore’s website (www.socialightsociety.com/melia) for monetary and book donations for the Melia project. Lawrence sells books to Frazier’s project at a discount.

“We have a curated list of books that feature black girls and they can choose a book from there,” Lawrence said. “We have a box in store for people to put books in. They can donate money for Melia to buy books to add to the collection.”

Melia Frazier, middle, a sixth-grader at Windemere Elementary, poses for a photo with her parents Terry and Nikki at their Sweet Encounter Bakery in downtown Lansing Tuesday, August 2, 2

Customers can buy books from its store in Lansing Mall and drop them in the appropriate box. Another drop box is located at the Lotus Beauty Lounge inside the Meridian Mall.

The books range from young adult to preschool.

“In regards to black girls being the main 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 of African American literature for kids to know about, for parents to know about, as we begin to share the other narrative out there,” said Terry Frazier, Melia’s father.

All titles collected from Lawrence’s store will be compiled at Sweet Encounter for the Fraziers to distribute the books to schools in Greater Lansing and the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing.

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Terry Frazier said he hopes school districts will review the curriculum to determine if students of color are being properly represented in literature and if other subjects, such as math, are being taught equitably.

Terry Frazier said he was amazed at the books Melia collected because he hadn’t seen this type of literature when he was growing up. Students will be inspired by the authors of these books and their biographies, he added, to know that they can accomplish anything.

“It really gives little kids an opportunity to read, to see themselves, and to really build that self-esteem that ‘I’m somebody,’ ‘I can see it,'” he said.

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Contact journalist Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.

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