Young Farmington area blogger promotes diverse books for kids

A Farmington area 10-year-old has taken her passion for books to the blogosphere, writing several times a week about stories with diverse characters, authors, and illustrators.

Elena, who is in the 5th grade, last month spoke to an audience of about 100 at MetroParent’s Education Expo. She explained the importance of reading and ensuring that kids have a diverse collection on their bookshelves.

Elena Reads 10 year old blogger

Why is diversity so important?

“Three reasons,” Elena said. “One, because kids, like anyone, need to see themselves on the pages inside books, so they know they’re important. Two, people need to see others, so they can understand other races, genders, and abilities. And three, if diversity is everywhere, there will be more peace in the world. There will be more understanding.”

The idea for a book blog came from local author Lisa Rose, a friend of her mother’s and one of Elena’s first author interviews. Rose wrote Shmulik Paints the Town, which tells the story of a painter who faces a “blank wall” challenge. “Elena Reads” launched in April.

“I started posting reviews of picture books and chapter books, and interviews of authors and illustrators,” Elena said.

Among the authors featured in her blog are Jean Alicia Elster, a Michigan author who writes historical books for young adults and children, and Kelly Starling Lyons, author of the “Jada Jones” series. Elena interviewed Lyons via Skype and met Elster in person. “Elena Reads” also includes reviews from guest bloggers, who have ranged in age from 8 to 20.

Though blogging takes up quite a bit of time, Elena also enjoys playing piano and violin, is a runner and tennis player. She also hopes to write a book of her own some day.

“I plan on doing this for a very long time,” she said. “My favorite part of being a blogger is when people get more aware. I really want people to read my writing.”