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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

“There is no joy in possession without sharing,” says eight-year-old Akshay Singh, a 3rd grader at the Juana Briones Elementary School in Palo Alto. This is the belief that underlies the creation of his new app.

Sharing Via Coding

Akshay loves reading and has been gifted many books by friends and family, each of which he has read once or twice. Once he is done reading, the books sit on his shelf untouched.

In the fall of 2021, Akshay learned to code at BYJU’S FutureSchool, a virtual learning platform that teaches math, coding, music, arts, and film via one-on-one instruction. In the class, he was challenged by his coding teacher to think of a widespread problem and figure out a solution in the form of an app.

He thought of the books sitting on his shelf untouched. He felt an app would help enable book sharing among students at his school, among his friends, and even family members. In addition, it would facilitate the writing and reading of book reviews.

In early December, he presented his app, Sharing Is Caring, to the Silicon Valley Challenge competition judges via video. Soon after, the app was shortlisted as a finalist, where he received a series of one-on-one mentorship sessions to bring his idea from the prototype stage onto the Thunkable coding platform.

“By sharing books and reviews,” Akshay says, “kids can develop thinking skills, talk more with others about their ideas, and analyze them.”

Sharing Is Caring is currently a contender in BYJU’s prestigious Silicon Valley Challenge competition, which gathers top coding students from around the world.

How The App Works

After the user creates an account and signs in, they arrive at the app’s home page, which offers options. Users can select:

  • Showcase Your Books: where you input details of books you would like to share (i.e., title, description, image, and category/genre).
  • Books to Read: where you choose the category/genre of books you want to read, view the titles available for sharing. Details of each book, and the contact info for the book owner are also available.
  • Book Club: where you write reviews of books you read, or read others’ book reviews. According to Akshay, this is the “coolest feature” and he has uploaded an example of his favorite book, Wings of Fire. He says, “It’s a very exciting book—a world full of dragons,” and after reading the entire Wings of Fire book series, he highly recommends it to other kids.

Encouraged to pursue coding at the suggestion of his mother, who worked in software consulting, Akshay is currently awaiting the results of the competition, where the winner receives an exclusive opportunity to present his/her app to actual venture capitalists (not for the purpose of receiving actual funding, but for an interactive mentorship experience).

While Akshay’s app is technically finished, he believes there are a couple of things he could add, such as allowing users to earn badges for sharing books and writing reviews, and adding toys as items to share.

Besides coding, Akshay loves chess, playing piano, and being creative, which means writing stories, creating original piano compositions, and going to art class. While he hasn’t figured out exactly what he wants to be, he’s thinking maybe a scientist, astronomer, or doctor.

He says, “An astronaut is being outside, on the next level, and there’s a great beauty to seeing a galaxy, like Andromeda. And you can go to the ISS, and look out onto the earth.” His mother adds, “He’s a real thinker.”

Carolyn Kamii

Carolyn Kamii is a publicity executive based in Los Angeles and a freelance writer. She holds a M.A. in art history from Syracuse University and a B.A. in art history from U.C. Berkeley. Growing up surrounded...