HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sascha Pakravan got hooked on books when he was a youngster fascinated by stories.
“I found myself always getting lost in books that were way above age level,” he said.
“Even if it wasn’t real, it was this alternate universe that I thought was so amazing that someone could create with a pen and paper.”
Inspired by a teacher to really look at his surroundings, he read a report that said 1 in 6 adults in Hawaii is functionally illiterate.
It inspired him. “I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to really move the needle?’ I really want to make a change,” he said.
Pakravan founded a non-profit called Words4 and loaded his website with dozens of read aloud videos of children’s books that families can access for free. The videos are educational and interactive.
“I thought to myself, ‘This could be so much better if it was engaging,” he said.
The read-alongs include questions that prompt kids to develop their own thoughts about what’s being read. And there are resources for older readers, too, including lists of books recommended for middle school and high school students.
He has also started a live reading program called “Reading Buddies.”
“We have eight tutors and eight mentors from McKinley High School and Punahou High School, all coming together to read and mentor young kids at the elementary level,” he said.
Pakravan is 16 and a junior at Punahou School. He’s brainstorming ways to add more to his program.
“Our goal is really to get people excited about reading,” he said.
To check out his website, go to Words4.org.