Kaya Thomas, was frustrated with the difficulty of finding books about and by people of color so she designed and wrote the code for the app.
At age 18, she launched We Read Too, a mobile directory of multicultural books for young readers.
“I want titles written by people of color to be easier to discover and all in one place, not blocked by a pay wall,” Thomas told Poets & Writers magazine. “I want (users) to see that there are authors who share their background and are creating work that reflects their culture in some way.”
Now available through Google Play and Apple, the free directory has nearly 1,000 children and young adult titles. Each title has a detail page including the book cover, author, title, genre, and description with an option to share the books via email or social media. The books can be viewed with an option to purchase online.
There are more than 15,000 users who have used the app to locate self-published and traditionally published authors of color. User can also recommend authors while discovering new titles. “I want all author of color to have their work highlighted in We Read Too regardless of how they got their work out there,” she said.
Thomas plans to eventually include adult fiction titles in the directory. “We want to expand the directory to include as many titles as possible in those categories before expanding to adult literature.” Suggested books have to be written by an author of color and the main character in the book should be Black, Latinx, Asian, or Native. Every few weeks the suggestions are read through and added if they fit the criteria.
Thomas graduated from Darmouth College with a degree in computer science. She started learning iOS development in 2014 while working as a mobile development intern for Time Inc. She later interned at Intuit and Apple working on iOS/OS technologies. She is an associate engineer at Slack Technologies, Inc. in California.