Meet Kaya Thomas: Founder of ‘We Read Too’ – An App Showcasing Literature For & By People of Color
If you visit your local library, you are likely to be spoiled with so many choices and also with a wide array of subjects. When you narrow down your search for books and literature work with content by and for people of color, you’ll soon realize just how few books there are on the shelves.
The absence of books containing contents by and for people of color does not mean they are not there, if anything there are plenty of literature works by people of color. It is just comparatively harder to get hold of them. Well, that was the case before the entry of an innovative app dubbed ‘We Read Too.’
Today, Innov8tiv brings you yet another exclusive interview, where we sought out the creative brains behind the We Read Too app. The following is our interview with the founder of this app.
My name is Kaya Thomas; I’m a second-year student at Dartmouth College. This summer I was a mobile development intern at Time Inc in their Technology and product Engineering department. I am also a student programmer at Tiltfactor, a social change game design lab located on Dartmouth’s campus. I recently developed and launched a book resource iPhone app called We Read Too.
You have an app called ‘We Read Too,’ tell us what inspired you to come up with that app?
I’ve been an avid bookworm since I was little. Unfortunately, I was constantly disappointed with the books I found on display and in popular book lists because I rarely related to the characters. I decided to create We Read Too so that books written by people of color featuring characters of color can be found in a central location. Both my parents worked hard when I was little to find books I could relate to, but it shouldn’t be such a hard task for people of color to find these books. I want We Read Too to be a resource to make it much easier to find these books because there are hundreds if not thousands out there.
What stirred your interest in Technology?
I’ve wanted to be an engineer since the seventh grade. I was drawn to problem-solving and tinkering from a young age. When I discovered how fun and creative programming is, I was hooked. Being a creator of technology empowers me with the ability to shape the future of what’s being made in tech. I am expanding my skills so I can develop technology that is needed in communities, like We Read Too.
Currently, you are still in college, how did you balance developing your app and going to school?
I developed the app this summer during weekends and after work. The skills I was applying at work definitely helped me with my own project.
Who are your mentors? How did they help you accomplish your goals?
Those who I consider mentors help inspire me to achieve, but I think it is very important to be self-motivated. It is also important to have different mentors in various fields because it helps build a network with diverse perspectives.
As a millennial, what advice would you give to others looking to create an app?
My advice is to start now! Do as many app tutorials as you can, make simple apps so that you can build upon those simple apps to create your own. Check out sites like AppCoda, CodeWithChris, and raywenderlich.com. If you are struggling, StackOverflow will be your best resource. The information is available; go find it and start building.