UAE: 13-year-old writer wants to help refurbish a village library in India

''I would like to inspire people to read and write; I want to be something for them', the Year 8 student says

By Lamya Tawfik

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Wed 9 Nov 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 9 Nov 2022, 2:00 PM

A young aspiring author who has already written the manuscripts of four books says that she dreams of one day being able to publish them. Sreeya Babu, 13, a Year 8 student at Gems Our Own English High School, spoke to Khaleej Times about her dreams while visiting the Sharjah International Book Fair.

“I’ve been exposed to a lot of reading [from] a young age. My parents always believed that reading can help you a lot in life; especially [considering that] today, with technology everywhere, it is sometimes left behind,” she said, adding that reading is an important part of her life and that she owns a 150-book strong library at home.


The one thing most of her books have in common is that they belong to the world of dystopian fiction. “In most of these books, the protagonists are young people who have risen to the occasion and solved problems happening in the world,” she said.

Similarly, she explained, she is inspired by current world problems, and writes about them in her books. “If you take a closer look, there are solutions. If you’re able to give a fictitious view to the problem and offer a solution, then you can see the problem in real life from a different light,” she said.


Sreeya began writing when she was in the sixth grade, at the age of 11. “This was during the pandemic, and I had an assignment from my school to write an alternate ending to a story,” she said. She hasn’t stopped writing since, and gets a lot of support from her teachers and parents.

In fact, Sreeya's mother happens to be her first audience and critic. “She doesn’t really like fiction, but she is supportive and she’d tell me when the sentences are too long or the characters are too complicated,” said Sreeya.

To be a good writer, you need to be persistent, Sreeya says. That means actually following through and completing a writing project. “I have a ton of ideas; I get halfway through a book and then I get bored with it. Even though it isn’t perfect, you just have to get it done with,” she said.

Another important tip she offers is to be observant and to find stories in the minor things around you. “Perhaps it’s a pencil that is looking at a sharpener and doesn’t want to get sharpened by it? The stories are there in the little details,” she said.

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Sreeya is interested in astrobiology (life in outer space), and gives us a simple but real reason as to why she loves writing. “Writing makes me happy", she said. "It’s a world that I create and a part of me goes into that world. This is what makes the story interesting."

But her dreams go beyond writing and publishing; Sreeya wants to be an inspiration for those around her. On her last vacation, she visited a tribal school in Tamil Nadu with her family and they decided collectively to set up a library in the school. “They don’t have picture books – only have text books in their mother tongue, Tamil", she said.

The students are also the first generation of their family to go to school. They were really excited when I spoke to them, so I want to be something for them. I would like to inspire people to read and write,” she said.

In the future, she hopes to write mystery books and thrillers. “They are more complicated so you really do need more experience,” she said. But that is not a problem for her, says the 13-year-old, as she truly believes that hard work will always lead you to success.


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