This 11-year-old got Port Authority to build a children's library at Newark International Airport

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
This young reader built a children's library inside Newark Airport
Toni Yates has the story.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A young reader dreamt her way to building a library in one of the busiest places in the Tri-State area: an airport.

Sia Malhotra, 11, is very much familiar with the book selection on the shelves of the new Children's Lending Library at Terminal A of Newark International Airport.

The new library opened a month ago, but according to Malhotra, "I started making this when I was eight."

Creating the newly built reading space was a personal mission that first began when she saw a children's library at an airport in Alaska.

"She was in the little area of the books and that's how the idea was born," said Chetan Malhotra, Sia's father.

From there, the avid reader started making moves.

"She has an idea, she nurtures it," said her mother, Nishu Malhotra. "So, she keeps on pestering people like, 'Hey I need to get this done.'"

In 2021, she wrote an email to Port Authority and reached out about turning that idea into a reality.

"It got to my desk at General Manager," said Sarah McKeon, GM of New Jersey Airports. "And I said, 'Yes, absolutely. Let's make this happen.'"

From there, Sia needed a shelf that would comply with airport safety standards. So, she emailed Home Depot in East Hanover.

"And she was like, 'Of course, we can do this for you,'" she recalled. "So, we talked to another man who helped build it."

Red tape takes time to slice through, and this journey happened to be three years in the making.

"I was a little impatient that time," confessed Sia. "But I kind of knew that it's okay, it's going to happen."

Sia has a website, Lets Read Today, where libraries and people who believe in her dream have donated children's books and she could use more.

Her journey is not over.

"I want to propose to the Port Authority to get more libraries into the other terminals," said Sia.

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