By Andrea Prazmowski –
In 2015, Immaculate Nyashema came to Canada and started reading books, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Immaculate, 15, was born in Congo and lived in Kenya for seven years before moving to Canada with her family. It was here where she really became a reader.
“I couldn’t speak English very well so I would read to learn, and if I didn’t know how to pronounce something I would ask a friend.”
Now, she’s known among her friends at the Parkdale Food Centre as one who usually has a book on the go. Immaculate is a member of Thirteen, a muesli-making social enterprise for youth at the Food Centre.
“Today everyone thinks ‘if I don’t have WiFi then life is really boring’, but if you can read a book then it isn’t!” she declares. “When I read I am totally in the book. I imagine myself as a camera in a movie.”
In that case, books and her imagination have taken Immaculate on more than a few adventures. She loves the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, which are full of mythological creatures for the teenage demi-god Percy and his friends to battle.
“The books are a mixture of drama, adventure, action. And they’re also funny,” she says. “I like how it’s a series and you get to meet new characters in every book.”
On her summer reading list are the Charlie Bone/Children of the Red King books by Jenny Nimmo, a fantasy adventure series about the descendants of the Red King who inherited his mysterious powers. Charlie can travel through photographs and pictures. The series is aimed at Grades 4-8.
Immaculate just finished reading A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, about a murderous king who comes to a village looking for his next victim, and the girl who goes with the king in order to save her sister’s life.
“It took her a thousand nights to find out what was after the king, and to know how to save him from the evil possessing him,” explains Immaculate. She recommends the book for ages 14-17.
If there is one book Immaculate recommends to all her friends, it is the young adult book Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw, about two girls living very different lives in Mumbai; one raised in a brothel and living in poverty, the other rich and privileged. A personal crisis propels the wealthy girl to a support program where she meets the other, and the lives of the two girls intersect.
“I felt very bad for the girl who was poor and then I saw how she much she made a difference to herself and the other people. It kind of made me feel like anyone can accomplish anything.”
It’s excellent inspiration for a young woman who hopes to be a surgeon some day.
This post is part of our annual summer reads issue. Read all of our 2017 profiles right here.