This week, we have Sonal Kapoor in the Shes_Trending interview corner. Sonal is a 17-year-old whose flame is ignited by education and literacy. We first came across Sonal from her non-profit called Rescue A Book, an organization dedicated to recycling unused books from the community while giving back to companies who are in need. Sonal is proof that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. From a [dream] maker at the age of 13 to a trendsetter on the rise, Sonal is showing us what progress looks like in the making.
ST: Who is Sonal Kapoor? What do you do, and why?
SK: Well, I’m 17 years old, and I started Rescue A Book in the 8th grade. I love reading and organizing things so this idea came to me as a community service project. My initial idea did not work out logistically with my school, so I decided with the help of my mom, that I would donate gently used books to local nonprofit organizations within the community. I thought this was a resourceful idea because there are so many people with unwanted books around the house and sometimes, they just don’t know what to do with them. Rescue a Book was an intermediate between households and local non-profits that needed books and the help to contact individuals and families in community.
ST: Tell us more about your background. Where did you grow up?
SK: I grew up in the Santa Clarita area, which is part of the Los Angeles County. My parents have always prioritized education. Since elementary school, my brothers and I have attended private school. Since Santa Clarita does not have as many options for private school, my parents branched out to the Pasadena area when I was in middle school. Pasadena is about 30 minutes from my home, so it’s definitely a drive. My mom has always been so generous with her time as she’s always put us before herself, by making my brothers and I the priority. Now that I’m a senior at Flintridge Preparatory School and have a car, it’s definitely a lot easier for everyone.
ST: Back in 2013 you started Rescue A Book. What inspired you to create Rescue A Book?
SK: I saw a problem that occurred in my home with having too many books going unused. Not only did I notice this problem in my home, but I saw the same issue with my friends and the community when I was in middle school.
ST: You were still in high school when you started Rescue A Book. How did your peers and the school react to what you were doing in the community?
SK: I have an awesome school! It’s super small and there’re only about a hundred students per grade. There are so many innovative ideas and projects developing that are similar to what I’m doing, and it’s so great to be around it all. I receive tons of support and generosity from my friends, students, and faculty. They always reach out to help and support in any way they can. I can recall one of the librarians contacting me when I started the organization and how they always believed in me, which made me feel so good. Without the support from my family and friends, I would not have been able to do this along with being where I am today.
ST: If you could have been the author of any book or series, what book would it be and why?
SK: I don’t know if I can just pick one book. It’s pretty hard for me. I like It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. It’s definitely relatable. It’s about a high school student at prep school which definitely strikes a chord with me. I’m reading another book in school right now called Twilight by Anna Deavere Smith that’s about the LA riots in the 90’s. It covers interviews and different perspectives of people and how the LA riots directly affected them. The book is a great concept because the author performed all the interviews as a one-woman show and re-enacted the events from the eyes of each race to get a different perspective for the reader.
ST: In your eyes, what makes a book so special?
SK: Someone once told me that books are a different form of entertainment, opposed to the computer or television. As a kid, I was encouraged to read, and I definitely did. I’m so glad that my parents pushed me in that direction because it opens up your mind and horizons. It also encourages literacy and education, and I recommend reading at every chance you get. Also, in my eyes, holding a book is something special as well. When I donate books to non-profit organizations, I put a little sticker inside each book with the company’s name. It’s cool because sometimes, some books have different messages or notes from people. Seeing the history and passing the message along lets others know what experience they went through, which feels good to be apart of.
ST: How many books have you donated since the start of the organization? What are you looking forward to the most about your senior year in high school?
SK: I’ve donated over 6,000 books to over 20 non-profits. Now that Rescue A Book is under my belt, I’m looking forward to being an entrepreneur. While continuing to still help the community, career-wise, entrepreneurship is my goal. I’m definitely interested in that direction, however, I’m still unsure about what I want to do, but that’s what college is here for.
ST: Where do you see Rescue A Book in the next 5 years?
SK: It would be incredible to expand in different states and countries as education is lacking for kids and young girls specifically. Education is still such a huge problem, so starting local and then expanding would be my personal recommendation for growth. Right now, I am in the process of revamping my site with a list of organizations to help more people connect with others who are in need.
ST: At the age of 13, the idea for Rescue A Book was born. What advice would you give to other youth looking to get involved in their community?
SK: Find something you’re interested in and stick with it. I did it and I was surprised at how rewarding it was, how the company expanded, and how I grew personally from the experience. I am able to do so many things I couldn’t do before this project, like speaking confidently to people. My interpersonal skills have grown so much and helping the community is just an added bonus.
ST: With all of our interviews, we like to sign off by saying thank you! We know that you’re trending, which is why we chose you to be one of our featured guest. In honor of our tradition, we would like you to finish this… My name is Sonal Kapoor Founder of Rescue A Book. I am trending because…
SK: I am trending because I found a way to help the community by doing something that I am passionate about.