Our Future: Forget social media, local teen aims to bring focus back on books


by Lisa Hernandez/ KHOU 11 News


Posted on May 16, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 11:54 AM

HOUSTON — Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. In the midst of the social media boom, has literature lost its lure? One local teen says “not a chance” and she’s hoping to bring the focus back to books.

Claudia Heymach, a high school sophomore, came up with a wonderful idea to make reading a priority for local students.

“It was a bit of an experiment,” she said. “Especially around the ages of middle school and elementary school where kids usually drop off reading in favor of electronics. So I really want to foster a love of reading in them.”

Heymach holds book drives at HISD’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Her first collection brought in nearly 400,000 books.

“I was so excited! It’s something that makes sense. Like, why haven’t we been doing this,” said Judith Switick, a creative writing teacher, said.

Claudia also hosts events with local kids through the Galveston-based “Smart Family Literacy” group and has started her own literacy club at school.

“Maybe around first grade I started reading chapter books, started loving reading. I think that’s really my motivation,” said Heymach.

Reading, she says, has helped her academic focus, in addition to giving her an artistic outlet.

Heymach has been featured in her school’s literary magazine and her writing has won regional and national recognition.

“I always tell students, ‘You get what you put into it’ and she puts a lot into it. She’s a beautiful poet and an outstanding student,” said Switick.

Heymach is already planning another book drive and will start a mentoring program next year where HSPVA students will work with elementary school students to improve their reading and writing skills.