This 12-year-old author wears multiple hats and is on a mission to make children read. He believes that when children will read, India will lead.
The boy wants to become an astronaut and set foot on a newly discovered planet. He is a student, an avid reader, a published author, a book reviewer, a motivational speaker, founder of eReadingShaala and STS India, runs his own Public Speaking Academy, and wears many such multiple hats. And his age? He is just 12 years old. Let's dip our toes into the incredible story of Arnay Agarwal, a Class VII student of Greenwood High International School and as you read along, you are sure to remain jaw-dropped.
An Avid Reader:
Arnay started reading at the age of three. He picked up books with more illustrations and few words in the beginning and as time passed, he chose books with more text. By the time he was 6 years old, he already started reading novels. His favourite authors are JK Rowling, Enid Blyton and Clive Cussler.
Arnay's true inspiration to reading came from his mother, Eva. As Eva couldn't get access to avid reading in her childhood, when she noticed the same spark she had, in her son, she encouraged him to embrace books. When Arnay started to pen his thoughts, it was Eva who stood beside him and motivated him to be persistent. Her "Never-give-up" lesson to Arnay is something that kept him going.
A Desire to Spread the Spark of Reading:
When Arnay was talking about Harry Potter series with one of his friends who had no idea of what Arnay was talking about, Arnay was shocked. He realized that there are many people who don't enjoy reading.
I thought of creating something that helps other people find the joy in books, says Arnay.
Whatever joy he acquires from a book, he wanted to gift it to other children as well. "I wanted to inculcate a reading habit in my peers, who spend too much time on screens these days.”, says the little reader.
To achieve this, he started a WhatsApp group with friends and family, to discuss books and authors. Eventually, he kick-started a blog that features book reviews, summaries, short stories, etc. and named it, ‘Explore With Jake’. He also tells stories on various topics through interesting podcasts. These podcast episodes span from 3 minutes to 18 minutes.
Reading summaries from a child’s perspective would encourage other children to read, he says.
He also initiated a mission called Read Children Read as a part of his brainchild eReading Shaala, in which he conducts free online book reading sessions for kids. He picks up books from his home library and reads them to the kids, explains the difficult words and assists them in reading. It is a space shared by 170 kids and their parents from various countries where they share book summaries, short stories and reviews. Its vision is to inspire youth to pick up books.
It is a space of the children, for the children, by the children.
Arnay, currently a 7th grader, founded a society named STS, India (Story Telling Society, India), two years ago, when he was in 5th grade. In this campaign, children from India, US, Nepal, UK, Japan and all over the world have joined.
The main aim of STS, India is to encourage storytelling among children. It also hosts soft skill sessions, storytelling contests, virtual snacks party and talk shows.
Parents are appreciative of STS, India, for keeping their children engaged, motivated and inspired during this tough Covid time. Owing to such a good response, I have decided to take it to the next level, the young founder says.
An Enthusiastic Writer and A Published Author:
Arnay has more than 75 publications under his name - Two Sea Voyagers, Juno and Ira’s Jungle Trip, The Bathing Watermelons are just to name few. This 7th Grader also published his first paperback, Happy Holiday Medley, an exhilarating account of his experiences in Bangalore during a Dussehra vacation in 2018.
When I start writing, I get completely lost in the story. My imagination goes far and beyond and I feel I am also playing a character in my own story. After two years of hard work and persistence, the book is finally in our hands. It’s an amazing feeling to have a physical book published and I am very happy that my dream of a paperback has been fulfilled. With this, I will try and reach greater heights in the future, Arnay states.
Mrs Clark, his 4th book, another fiction piece about a small-town teacher whose simple and easygoing life becomes topsy-turvy due to an unexpected sequence of events, is in the process of publication.
His articles are published in The Hindu, RobinAge, and many other renowned publications in India and UK. Some of his write-ups such as Let’s Visit a Radio Station, Visit to a Book Fair and Interplanetary War are available on digital platforms. CAAB publishers, UK have published his stories in Children's Anthology Magazine.
His news report, “ The Challenges of Educating During a Pandemic” secured its place in USA's Indykids newspaper on 21st December 2020.
A Motivational Speaker Too:
Arnay who is also an amazing motivational speaker is invited by Trainer’s Club, Pune, The Trainer’s Camp, New Delhi, EduTalk and Brainfeed high magazines, and various institutions and colleges on multiple occasions for giving talks. He has given talks on the Attitude of Gratitude, Stay Positive, Stay Healthy, Be Responsible, Be Skilful, Choose Local, Learning through Crisis, Rouse up the House, Mantras of life, Cyberbullying, Anger management, Water your anger, Sankalp of Bharat etc. At Trainer's Camp, New Delhi, he gave a motivational talk on how children can stay positive, healthy, skilled and responsible during this time of crisis of covid-19. His talk was live on Facebook and was viewed by 2500 viewers. Arnay also runs a Public Speaking Academy with 10 kids at present, where sessions on confidence building, effective public speaking skills, etc. happen every alternate week.
Doesn't Affect His Studies, Helps In turn:
When a school going kid is doing so much, a doubt would surely arise in anyone's mind that if all this wouldn't affect his studies! However, the boy has developed the habit of reading and is immersed in activities related to reading most of his time. Ultimately, this habit is going to help him in academics as well. Instead of memorizing the content, he reads his books in the curriculum like he reads the fictional pieces. His increased reading ability, along with the summarizing and story-writing skills aids him in understanding the concepts with minimal effort.
This child prodigy is also named as the Budding Star in Spelling Bee 2016 International Competition. He also enjoys doing math and reads history books.
The young boy who thought of child welfare and the importance of reading at a very young age is truly an inspiration to everyone. He is also planning to start a nonprofit for children who come from low-income backgrounds. His eyes keep rolling to read new works, his ink keeps flowing to pen new stories, his heart keeps longing to spread the goodness of books, his mind keeps racing to reach the book-reading world. This never tired and ever-enthusiastic kid should grow with immense happiness and may his happiness reflect in his writings and thereby spread all over.
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