Leonardo Lin, an eighth-grader at VanDamme Academy in Aliso Viejo, is using his passion for sharks to advocate for the preservation of the world’s oceans through his newly published book, World of Sharks.
The apex predators play a vital role in the environment and food chain, keeping the ecosystem stable and in balance, Leonardo explained.
“And they’re my favorite animals,” Leonardo added.
Leonardo was inspired to write World of Sharks after receiving a shark encyclopedia for his fifth birthday.
“I chose to write this book, because I’m passionate about sharks, and I just wanted to give to the Ocean Institute for the knowledge they provided me with,” Leonardo said. “It’s been a dream for me. I wanted to write a book for myself and publish it.”
In World of Sharks, Leonardo talks about his 10 favorite sharks–“their diets, habitats, lengths and other interesting facts that I wanted to share with my audience,” he said.
Leonardo also illustrated all of the images that accompany the shark facts.
After publishing about 150 copies of World of Sharks this summer, the book is already sold out, but Leonardo is looking to print more editions soon.
“It was pretty exciting, because I thought it would be harder to sell out a book, but I found many people supportive,” Leonardo said.
Leonardo’s mom, Tina Lin, said it was very exciting to watch her son publish his first book.
“He’s always loved to draw and read books on sharks, so for him to publish something on his own has been an exciting journey,” Tina said. “We didn’t think so many people would be so supportive and excited about his passion. I think this is one of the first steps for his long-term dream.”
Leonardo added that his goal is to one day work for the United Nations, “helping with their climate change department and ocean conservation,” he added.
“I just love the ocean, and I want to help preserve it and keep it this way for the future,” Leonardo said. “With climate change, it will destroy and ruin our oceans. So, hopefully, in the United Nations, I’ll get to make some laws and set up rules to protect our oceans.”
Tina said Leonardo speaks Chinese and Japanese and plans to translate the book into different languages to spread the impact of the book.
Growing up attending many of the Ocean Institute’s summer camps and learning about the ocean through its marine education programs, Leonardo said he wanted to give back to the nonprofit through his book sales. The eighth-grader is donating the book’s proceeds to the marine education and conservation nonprofit.
“I learned a lot about the ocean from them, so I wanted to give back for the knowledge they provided me with and help continue their work of enriching kids with knowledgeable values,” Leonardo said.
Tina added that the family has visited the Ocean Institute at least once a month, playing at the beach behind the campus and looking at marine life in the tide pools.
“We didn’t know there was so much marine life just in this little area,” Tina said.
Riley Russell, the Ocean Institute’s director of education, noted that the marine education program aims to “engage young minds, leaving a lasting impression that can ripple through a lifetime.”
“Yet, it is not every day that we witness the full circle of that inspiration transforming into action, and then back into support for our shared goals,” Russell said in a media release. “What’s more, Leonardo has chosen to give back to the institute, by donating the proceeds from the book to support our continued efforts to inspire future generations.”
Russell added that the nonprofit was thankful for Leonardo’s generosity and dedication.
“It reminds us that the seeds of inspiration we sow through our educational programs have the potential to sprout into something truly extraordinary,” Russell said.
Leonardo said he hopes his readers of World of Sharks learn “the importance of sharks and that they will fall in love with sharks like me. I hope to provide them with a lot of information about sharks.”
“I want them to know how important our oceans are and how they support so many people,” Leonardo said. “They produce at least 50% of our oxygen. So I want them to know ocean life is a big part of us humans thriving.”
Those interested in contacting Leonardo to purchase a copy of World of Sharks can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.