When Los Altos junior Nadia Ghaffari launched her organization TeenzTalk in April of this year, her focus was to teach and empower teens to have a growth mindset through connecting teens with a global community of peers and enabling them to share their experiences, struggles, and insights through stories and video responses.
However, Nadia’s mission of youth empowerment didn’t stop there. Along with founding a club on campus, Nadia decided to publish her own book to empower young children and teach them more about the growth mindset. The book, titled “Growing a Brain: A Journey of Resiliency Starting in the Classroom,” was officially published on November 10 on Amazon.
“Working with teens [through TeenzTalk], I was inspired to target a younger audience as I also have three younger siblings that are not teens yet,” Nadia said. “I felt like this message of [the growth mindset] needs to be spread starting at a younger age, so that even children in elementary school and kindergarten can adapt to this way of thinking, because that’s when you’re starting to grow your mind.”
The book features main characters Ethan and Mika, who have to persevere through a difficult math problem and, through making mistakes and learning from them, are able to grow their minds.
According to Nadia, once she had a basic storyline for her novel, the writing process was fairly quick, and the book only took three months to write and publish. Nadia decided to self publish “Growing a Brain” in order to speed up the process. Although she worked mostly on her own, Nadia enlisted the help of professionals to proofread her book to ensure accuracy, and purchased a plan from Shutterstock for graphics.
One of Nadia’s biggest challenges while writing the novel was explaining a difficult topic to a younger audience.
“The concept of a growth mindset isn’t meant to be taught to [children that young] because it’s a pretty complex concept,” Nadia said. “The challenge was in breaking down that [concept] and not using big words, so the way I described it in the end was ‘when you grow your brain, you’re becoming stronger, smarter and more brave’ but that could be said in much more complex ways. Making sure the vocabulary was right was probably the most difficult.”
Nadia says that the reception of her book has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
“In the next few months I have a few talks set up at local elementary schools, so I’ll be going in and reading the book and doing a little activity with them,” Nadia said.
In the future, Nadia hopes to find other local bookstores to carry her novel, such as Linden Tree in downtown Los Altos.
“I love reaching out to people, especially the younger generations, [by] helping them, teaching them, and … empowering them,” Nadia said.