By Rex Leonowicz
Karan Brar has been lighting up the screen since he was only 11. You may recognize him as Chirag Gupta from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid feature film franchise. Currently, he's reprising his role as Ravi Ross in Bunk'd, a spin-off of Disney ,Channel's Jessie. And most recently, the 17-year-old star is adding literacy-advocate-slash-social-justice-warrior to his list of credits.
"I think students forget that if they don't stay up on their reading, it's really easy for you to fall behind," Brar told us. "That can set you back when you start the next school year."
He's right: research has validated the "summer slide," the notion that learning can be harder for students in the fall if their reading skills slip in the months they're not in school. As a response, Brar is serving as the face of DoSomething.org's Context Clues campaign (powered by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation), a text-message game where students use their reading skills to solve a mystery. By playing and sharing the game, students and their friends can use their phones to avoid the summer slide.
"[I love] how easy [the game] is to play!" Brar says. "Instead of having to go through a complicated sign-up process, you just text a number and you're ready to go!"
Can a reading game really be fun? Brar knows where he stands.
"I know for students it's easy to assume that educational games are boring, and trust me, I thought the same way," he says, "but Context Clues is actually really simple and fun. Barely takes any time out of your day, but still tests your skills."
So what's on Brar's reading list in his free time? His all-time favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and he's super excited to get started on 1984 by George Orwell. Watch Karan charm us all into picking up a book this summer in our Context Clues PSA video.
Follow Karan's lead and have fun while brushing up on your reading skills. Learn more about Context Clues!
Rex Leonowicz writes for DoSomething.org. He's a trans/nonbinary/femme writer, poet, and visual/performing artist from Queens, NY. Find him online at rexylafemme.tumblr.com and @rexylafemme on Twitter & Instagram.