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Student’s senior project aims to ‘elevate the online reading and note-taking experience’

Samhitha Thatavarthy is a senior at Holliston High School where her senior project is the creation of SimpleReads, an online reading and note-taking aid. Courtesy photo

By Theresa Knapp

Samhitha Thatavarthy is a senior at Holliston High School where her senior project is the creation of “SimpleReads,” a Google Chrome Extension designed to “elevate the online reading and note-taking experience.” 

“This project stands as both an embodiment of my passion for innovation and a valuable asset for students,” said Thatavarthy, who lives in Ashland. She has a provisional patent for her invention. 

Thatavarthy says SimpleReads’ two core functions are a notepad feature, and a blur-and-zoom function. 

For the notepad feature, Thatavarthy explains that, with the click of a button, users can activate a notepad while browsing online. This notepad seamlessly saves notes to Google Docs, ensuring they are readily accessible when returning to a website. Each website visited generates a new Google Doc, with the website’s name as the document title.

For the blur-and-zoom feature, SimpleReads empowers users to customize their reading experience by adjusting the number of visible lines and font sizes on any website.

Thatavarthy, 17, said she came up with the idea because of personal experience.

SimpleReads: How it works

1. Download the Google Extension. 

2. Click the SimpleReads extension at the top of your screen to enable it. It should turn blue.

3. Choose the tools you want to use (Zoom/Blue, Notes, or both). 

4. If using both tools, hover your mouse over any body of text to adjust the SimpleReads pop-up lines’ visibility and text size. 

5. Using Notes, click near any line of text, and the notepad appears on the right side of the screen. 

6. Type in your notes and press enter. 

7. Access your earlier notes by pressing on the pop-up in the notepad. 

8. Once done, click the enabled button to turn it gray. 

9. Reload your Google Drive/Google Docs for the new Google document to show up. 

10. The Google document is visible with the website link as the title, where all your notes are saved. 

11. Taking notes on multiple websites will generate multiple Google documents, one for each website. 

12. When revisiting the same website and signing in with the same email, notes are saved back into the same Google document. 

13. When revisiting the same website, the notes will be saved on the notepad pop-up.

Source: Samhitha Thatavarthy, SimpleReads creator and Holliston High School senior“As a child, I faced the challenge of reading comprehension while nurturing my creativity. It was during these formative years that I conceived an innovative concept – a tool that could selectively highlight lines in a book, allowing me to concentrate on a single line at a time. Additionally, I dreamt of a feature that would enable me to take notes within the book, seamlessly transferring my thoughts beyond its pages. At the tender age of seven, I named this concept the ‘Reader Keyder’ and documented it in my Idea Book.”

She says that, years later, during her sophomore year of high school, she decided to use online technology to bring her idea to life. Her goal was to “create a platform that would be accessible to all, free of charge, to assist as many individuals as possible in their reading endeavors,” and today it has more than 300 users, including 85 active users. 

Thatavarthy says that, among the many SimpleReads users, are members of the Holliston School District. 

“I’ve had the privilege of presenting SimpleReads in various Holliston High School classes. I’ve had the honor of presenting it to the entire faculty and will soon introduce it to the middle school faculty.”  

She also says she has a data privacy agreement approved by the Holliston School District which “allows schools in all of Massachusetts and into the East Coast to implement it without requiring additional approval.”

For more information, visit To download the app, visit