Tanya Marie Lee
Tanya Marie Lee is the founder of A Room Of Your Own book club, offering teen girls living in poverty a safe space to find their voice, see their potential, and discuss issues they might face — with monthly meet-ups that include the author of the book they’re reading.
My name is Tanya Marie Lee. Close to four years ago, I created a book club for Teen Girls 13 to 18 years of age entitled “A Room Of Your Own”. This book club gives young women a Grrrl Positive Space to be themselves without judgement. We honour, respect, love, and celebrate everything about being a young woman growing up in today’s society, standards, and pressures. What makes this book club special is that the girls are given the books for free 4 to 6 weeks in advance, they meet the author and we focus on mental health and wellness. We have terrific discussions with the authors and the young women involved. We choose books that are relevant to young women’s lives, that reflect diversity, and that have great female protagonists of all abilities. Young women relish in the idea of seeing themselves and their friends reflected in the literature they are reading.
A Room Of Your Own Book Club brings me great joy and pride. I started this book club because I wanted to be of service to young women, to give them a space to be themselves, and for them to know that someone out there really cares about seeing young women reflected in literature, that their story matters and that they are relevant in society. Growing up, I was not treated well at all. I lived in an abusive household. I suffered greatly, I was taught that I did not matter, and my voice was silenced with violence. This didn’t change when I went out in the world. The world and school reinforced that I was disposable and who I was as a young woman I wasn’t important. Being a woman of colour brought this home even more. I was taught I did not count, that I was not even considered and that I wasn’t even an afterthought.
My heart bursts with pride knowing that young women of all backgrounds know that they are seen, heard, noted, loved, and celebrated in the book club. They know that they are in a safe space and environment. It takes a community to make this book club happen and be so successful. Working with CREVAWC is a love affair. I absolutely love working with all the people who make this book club possible at Western University. We have been working now together on this book club close to four years. Wow, time really flies when you have important work to do and accomplish.
As we celebrated The International Day Of The Girl I want all girls to know that someone out there really cares about you, sees you, loves you and celebrates you. You matter! Your life matters! Who you are as a person matters! Your voice matters in society and in your community! Remember this always.