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A Young, Rad Reader: Meet Ishaan

Three weeks into Read-A-Thon, four-year-old Ishaan has smashed his reading goals!


Ishaan: Our youngest rad reader 

“I can read to myself!” Ishaan announces proudly. A certified bibliophile, the charming four-year-old has already finished 95 books. “I read in the morning, during breakfast, and at bedtime. I want to read all the time,” he beams.

Where did Ishaan develop his love of reading? It all started on a baby rocker swing. “We would read to him as a newborn and we just kept reading to him every day,” Saranya, Ishaan’s mom, shares.

As Ishaan grew older, he started to appreciate the colors, pictures, and words. It was inevitable, therefore, that reading would become a family tradition.

“Reading helps us focus on our time together.  Ishaan picks three books every time we sit down to read. We read them and then talk about them. Our quality reading time is priceless for both of us!”

Windows and mirrors

What are Ishaan’s current favorites? Click Clack Back to School by Doreen Cronin and Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq. “I like to read funny books,” Ishaan explains proudly. But there are more treasures you can find in Ishaan’s rainbow bookshelf. “It was extremely important for us as a family, to expose Ishaan to diverse books,” Saranya explains.

“Ishaan really likes it when the character eats the same food as us or when the mom in the book looks like me.” 

But just as much as Ishaan appreciates stories where he can see himself, he also loves learning about characters that are different from him. “Reading diverse books has taught Ishaan empathy at a young age,” Saranya shares. “Right now, we’re reading about Ramadan and what people do during this time,” she continues.

It is this love of reading and learning about people of different abilities, genders, and races (among others) that led mother and son to create an Instagram account. What started as a hobby turned into a community of families looking for books that broaden children’s perspective and horizon. “We didn’t think it was going to be this big,” she laughs.

“What I value about our page is that our personality shines through. We just really love reading as a family and we share ways of incorporating it in our daily lives.” 

The Shelves of Color community now has over 13,000 followers and counting.

The power of reading 

“A child who reads will be an adult who thinks.” – Sasha Salmina

Living in a screen-minimalist home, books are Ishaan’s primary source of entertainment. “Reading has the power to transform children’s minds, fueling their imagination to think creatively and think independently,” Saranya explains. True enough, his love of words has empowered Ishaan to create his own stories and build his world.

Before bedtime, Ishaan tells me the stories he makes up, inspired by the books he read.” 

Are you enjoying Read-A-Thon? I ask Ishaan. “So much! I think I’m doing a good job reading.” You are doing amazing, Ishaan. You are an inspiration to us all!

Join Ishaan and take your love of reding to new heights! Register for Read-A-Thon and read as many books as you can until May 21. Proceeds from this campaign provide access to critical library resources and services to thousands of Chicagoans across the city.