Kaitlyn Donato On Creating Books and Bridges
Kaitlyn Donato believes that, given the proper resources and encouragement, every girl can find her inner confidence.
When I was younger I struggled to read, which limited my ability to engage in the classroom. However, as my reading improved, I felt more confident in myself. I spoke more in class. I made closer bonds with friends. It was as if a door had opened and a whole new way of communicating, thinking, and expressing myself appeared. With every page turned and story read, that door opened wider.
Once I entered high school, I started reflecting on the lack of confidence I had felt before I learned to read, and after talking with some friends, I realized that that feeling wasn’t at all uncommon. Girls, with smaller voices and fewer tools to assert themselves, often lacked the same levels of self-esteem as their male peers. And so, with the encouragement of my friends and family, I decided to change that.
I wanted to show other young girls that they were capable of accomplishing their aspirations, regardless of any discouragement they felt from preconceived gender roles. And what better way to do that than through reading. I started off by contacting some local elementary schools, asking if there were any teachers who would allow me the opportunity to read books focusing on female role models to their classes— an opportunity I myself never had. To my delight, my proposal received overwhelming support.
My readings soon blossomed into a small school club, Books and Bridges. I recruited close friends and other interested students to help me plan activities and discussions with elementary schools across our town. We held meetings with principals, visited our former elementary teachers, and introduced countless books encouraging female leadership to our community, which I’m sure would never have happened otherwise.
As our organization grew larger and larger, it allowed us to connect with students from a variety of backgrounds. We have now had the opportunity to read to schools everywhere from New Hampshire to Seattle. We have even conducted events with female politicians and scientists.
Whenever I see little girls speak up during Books and Bridges readings today, I am filled with the satisfaction that, given the proper resources and encouragement, every girl can find her inner confidence.
Kaitlyn Donato is a high school student from Winchester, MA. In her spare time, she loves to read, watch movies, and play with her dog. To learn more about her organization or donate to support her mission, please visit booksandbridges.org.