Outstanding Teen Is Your New Book Matchmaker
Julieanna Jackson may be Mississippi’s Miss Pride of the South's Outstanding Teen but it is her role as Book Matchmaker that really makes her shine! Growing up, Julieanna, like many other students, was a reluctant reader but after discovering a series that motivated her she not only became an avid reader but also wanted to help spark other kids’ reading habits by pairing them with books they would love to read based on their personal interests. We recently talked with her about her own story and how it has inspired her to give back to her local community.
RIF: You started out disliking books until your mother insisted you read the Percy Jackson books before seeing the movies. What was it about those books in particular that helped you develop a love of reading?
J: I think why I wanted to read the Percy Jackson series was not only because it was becoming a movie but because it was mythological and I was learning about that in history class. It was a fantasy world filled with kids that had super powers but learned how to help each other towards a common goal and that really resonated with me.
RIF: Have you stayed mostly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres or are there other topics you now enjoy that you didn’t expect to?
J: I've mostly stayed with Sci-Fi dystopian books. But now that I'm older I also love young adult books! Some of my favorites series are The Selection [by Kiera Cass], Ruby Red [by Kerstin Gier], and Gone [by Michael Grant].
RIF: When you aren't reading, what else do you love to do?
J: When I'm not curled up reading a book, I love to travel. It's fun seeing the places that I've read about come to life. One of my favorite places to go is New York City. I'm from Mississippi, so I love riding my four-wheelers and playing with my dogs.
RIF: We know that you volunteer at elementary schools in your area. What do you love most about your visits to these schools? Do you have any advice for other teens who are interested in volunteering to help kids learn to love reading?
J: One of my favorite things about volunteering is being able to have, even if it's a small one, an impact in the children's lives. I would encourage all of my peers to go out and give back to their community! You can start off small and volunteer at your local library or even a classroom at your local elementary school.
RIF: Your mission is to help kids find their perfect book match. How are you doing this? What advice do you have for young reluctant readers?
J: I'm able to help kids love reading just like I do by going and reading to classrooms. I think once children learn that you can have fun while reading, whether it's dressing up as a character or play-acting scenes with different voices, then an entire world opens up to them. Once children learn a specific type of book that they love, they will be hooked (and most importantly knowing that it's okay not to love a certain book). I also developed an easy survey on my website that kids can take and can guide them to a possible match for their perfect book. My advice for reluctant readers is not to give up. I promise their perfect book is out there waiting for them to love and cherish!
RIF: How has your life changed since you started reading for fun?
J: My life has changed immensely since I discovered a love of reading. It has benefited me with my schoolwork. There have been so many things that I have learned through reading like how a lawyer prepares for their cases or how a chef chooses their menu. Reading has also reinforced the knowledge that I can be whoever I want to be and that it's never too late to discover new things.
We loved chatting with Julieanna about the impact literacy has made in her life and how she is using her own story to help empower even more children to discover the power of reading! If your child is looking for a new book to love, head over to RIF’s Booklists and find the perfect story to inspire the switch from reluctant reader to budding bookworm!