Kaya Thomas is an American app developer with a passion for inclusivity. Even at a young age, she realized the lack of diversity in her favorite books, and she knew she had to make a change. Fast-forward to 2014, Kaya created an IOS app called ‘We Read Too’ that highlights diverse authors and stories for young readers. Her passion for technology and commitment to representation have not only earned her awards but also inspired many to follow in her footsteps, paving the way for diversity. Kaya’s journey reflects how one woman’s vision became a movement, opening doors and books to those who were once overlooked!
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Kaya had a hungry appetite for reading. Although she loved reading all kinds of books, she was disheartened by the lack of representation in them. This sparked a deep-rooted desire to create change inside of her. She went to Dartmouth College, where her passion for tech led to her majoring in Computer Science. She was able to combine her love for literature with coding, which ultimately ignited the creation of ‘We Read Too’. Kaya discovered a gap in the market for an app that showcased books with characters of color, and by filling that gap, readers everywhere were able to finally find the representation they needed. Her early education and experiences were pivotal in shaping her journey as a tech innovator and advocate.
Kaya’s parents had always been supportive of her love for literature. Throughout her childhood, her parents would go from store to store trying to find picture books with black characters. She also expressed how she did find books online, but they weren’t easily accessible and would cost a fortune. She channeled all her energy into making sure she could create a resource that anyone could use. Furthermore, she found advice in Kimberly Bryant’s famous TED Talk, which only pushed her to work harder. Now Kaya’s app has over 100,000 downloads and features an extensive range of character diversity!
Throughout College, Kaya worked as an intern for various tech companies such as Apple, Time, and Intuit where she learned the ins and outs of IOS software. She then worked as an IOS engineer for Slack, which helped to further her knowledge of app development. After she created ‘We Read Too’ her journey in tech took a significant leap forward, and she reached her breakthrough. She received numerous achievements, most notably being featured in ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ and honored by Michelle Obama at BET’s Black Girls Rock. With every step, Kaya continues to inspire and pave the way for future generations of tech enthusiasts and bookworms alike.
Kaya Thomas has been an inspiration to those in the tech and literary communities. Her advice often centers on the importance of representation and following one’s passions to make a meaningful impact. Through ‘We Read Too’, Kaya has empowered authors of color, fostering a more inclusive literary world! Now kids like Kaya are finally able to see themselves in the books they read, which not only builds confidence but also teaches them to never settle for less. Kaya Thomas’ work serves as a beacon, reminding us that with determination and the right tools, we can all contribute to a more positive future!