The SoCal Readers are the Teens Leading Change participants at the Chatsworth library. They are creating programming around the issue of reading engagement among those with learning disabilities. Project participants will provide resources for children and families introducing young learners to the joys of reading, host events celebrating literacy and reading, and serve as role models to younger children struggling with literacy. They hope to use the library’s resources to create excitement and enthusiasm around reading for young learners, especially those with learning disabilities.
In this post you will find three unique voices from the SoCal Readers group—each expressing why they were interested in starting this project, what it means to them, and how it continues to impact them. Arianna, Artemis, and Kavita are all Seniors in high school who have co-founded the SoCal Readers.
I absolutely adore reading. Books have the power to transport us to different worlds and offer an escape from the harsh realities of our own world. This, however, was not always the case. For a long time, I hated reading just as many young kids do. The truth was I simply hadn’t found the right book or the right motivation to start; that was until my younger sister, Angel inspired me to pick up a book and really give reading a chance. Angel is diagnosed with dyslexia which makes reading ten times more difficult for her. Yet she still has found a way to love reading and the art of literature despite this struggle. The fact she was able to find passion in something that caused her so much resentment inspires me every day. I know Angel is not alone in this struggle with other mental disorders including dyslexia and ADHD prohibiting millions of young children across America from also finding that passion for books and all things related to reading. I want all kids to be able to have the chance to experience the magic of books. I want to help guide them through the obstacles that may make reading difficult, whether it may be simply helping them find the right book or helping them to love books in a form that is most comfortable to them. I hope that it is stories like my sister’s that may inspire all, whether with diagnosed obstacles or not, to give reading a chance and open new doors of opportunity, creativity, and wonder.
My parents are the classic representation of the American Dream. They abandoned poverty-ridden India in their late 20s with little to no education, in hopes of raising not only a new family in America but also getting my grandparents and extended family out of India. I always think about their story and get amazed as they knew no one here, did not know the language or have any education past high school. As I grew older I began to gain a strong passion for helping others. I know how hard it was for my parents, even today I am lucky enough to see them for a couple of hours a day as they still keep hustling and working all for their families. I want others to not have to go through these things alone and have immense amounts of guidance, assistance, and resources available to them. Because of this, I have been helping my community since I was 14 years old. Whether it is helping my old middle school theatre program, sending care packages to veterans, tutoring teens in the library, cleaning up trash after events, or installing smoke alarms in poverty-stricken areas with the American Red Cross, I am always looking for any way to help my community. When Arianna came up to me with her idea of helping children with reading disabilities and shared her story, I was immediately drawn and ready to start this journey
The main driving factor for this project is my mom. I am inspired by the work she does immensely. My mom works as a teacher and has experience with students who have learning disabilities. Because of this, it made me more interested to take a dive into this realm since she has done it before too. My mom stresses and agrees with the importance of educating more and more people on this topic as well as actively helping those with said learning disabilities. Because of this, I was driven to join and work on this project as it was something that would give me an opportunity to shadow my mom.
The Teens Leading Change initiative has funded and launched nearly 40 projects across 50 branches, including 8 projects across 11 branches that are happening now! These projects are related to Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities, Fighting Food Insecurity, Addressing Environmental Racism, Neighborhood Beautification, Financial Literacy, Addressing the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Supporting Youth with Housing Insecurity.