Favorite places: libraries, book stores, museums and restaurants (such as Todai, Redmond's Haveli Restaurant, Sushiland, Greek Gyros, most Indian restaurants, and the Coho Café). She loves to go to these places to fuel her up.
Favorite Sites: www.tedxredmond.com (the TEDx event she's organizing), CNN, NPR, TED.com, BBC Schools, PBS kids, and Brainpop, which offers a variety of educational movies.
Favorite TV Shows: Food Channel, especially Good Eats with Alton Brown and Rachel Ray, History Channel, World News with Diane Sawyer, 60 Minutes, America's Funniest Home Videos, CBs News with Katie Couric, Nightly News with Brian Williams. Adora's favorite shows from early childhood were Arthur and Between the Lions on PBS.
Favorite Books: The Century for Young People (a gift from the author, Peter Jennings); Little Women; The Secret Garden, the Redwall series, Inkheart, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia; Cry, the Beloved Country; My Name is Asher Lev; A Tale of Two Cities; Jane Eyre; Villette; The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency; the Isabel Dalhousie series; the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series
Favorite Activities: Despite her bookworm tendencies, Adora has her rowdy side - she loves to play outside with her friends and her sister. Adora's dramatic tendencies and uncommon imagination often lead to unusually theatrical play dates. She also enjoys Reading, writing and illustrating her stories, walking in the woods, cooking, playing board games, and traveling to new places to visit historical sites.
Favorite moment: “Opening my presents on my seventh birthday
Milestones: Could read and write simple words at age two and a half; read her first chapter book at age three and half; started to write short stories at age four; started to type short stories at age 6; appeared on Good Morning America and met Peter Jennings at age 7, published her first book at age 7, began teaching through distance learning at age 10, spoke at the prestigious TED conference at age 12, organized her own event (TEDxRedmond) at age 12
Dreams: To be a journalist, historian, philanthropist, teacher, actress and talk show hostess; build schools in developing countries, have a television show, and bring awareness to education and literacy issues
Greatest Ambition: To win a Nobel prize, either in Literature and Peace.
Basic Information About Adora:
Birthday: October 15th, 1997
Books Published: Flying Fingers, Dancing Fingers (co-authored with Adrianna Svitak)
School: Washington Virtual Academy (Online Public School)
City: Redmond, Washington State
Born in: Springfield, Oregon
Family: Joyce and John Svitak (parents), Adrianna Svitak (sister)
Diane Sawyer---Good Morning America
On Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer called Adora Svitak a ‘Tiny literary giant.” The title seems astute when you measure her diminutive stature against her accomplishments. Though only four feet tall, seven-year-old Adora has written over 250,000 words this year alone. Try that one on for size.
She may be small, but she has big ideas, and, thanks to writing, she has the means to express them. At an age when most kids are still eking out simple sentences; Adora is staggeringly prolific. Her grasp of grammar, structure and syntax would be considered advanced in most high school classrooms, and her complex and intriguing plots lead readers to wonder what else Adora has up her sleeve. Hearing a seven-year-old casually use words like ‘fatalistic' and ‘immolate' is so startling, it's almost humorous, but once you get used to it, it's easy to slip into a conversation about books or politics and forget that the person you are talking to rides a bike with training wheels and sleeps with a stuffed bear.
Adora started to read chapter books at three-and-a-half. Since reading her first chapter book (“ Bug Inspector ”), she has never looked back, and tends to gravitate towards challenging materials. Discovering historical fiction cultivated a passion for history. The history book she cherishes the most, The Century for Young People , was a gift from author Peter Jennings, and is inscribed ‘Adora and Adrianna, you are the future!'.
At an early age, Adora's passion for reading inspired her love for writing. Although she was originally not so confident in her spelling and grammar and her early writing depended on help from her mom, her sister, and her tutors, she refused to be discouraged by her mistakes and kept asking for help. Pretty soon she was able to write simple stories that were a few pages long. Her ideas and vocabulary were now advanced beyond her years, but she was still hindered by a typical five-year-olds' limited handwriting skills.
Her breakthrough came in the form of a used Dell laptop that her mother bought her in the spring of 2004. She was fascinated by what she could do with Microsoft Word. After her aunt and uncle showed her some of the functions, she was very eager to experiment and discovered many tools on her own. With the help of “JumpStart Typing for Kids” and DK's “Creative Writing” program, she was soon typing 60 words a minute.
Her passion for writing grew as Word helped her surpass technical limitations. She could now check her own spelling, which helped her gain confidence. Even if she was not 100% sure of a word's definition, she could now use the program's simple ‘Look Up' feature (Encarta Dictionary) or Dictionary.com on any new word she discovered in her reading, and she began using synonyms or antonyms to make her writing more exciting and precise.
Recently Adora has started work on ‘History Tips for Kids', a project she hopes will help other kids realize that history doesn't have to be boring. She is especially fond of reading about battles and weaponry, and her historical pieces are always action packed. She also edits her school newspaper, writes contemporary fiction, and is finishing a pirate epic called ‘ The Danger Ship '. Flying Fingers , a compilation of Adora's stories paired with her own learning exercises and writing tips, is slated for publication in October.
It has been studied and noted that literary prodigy is far less common than aptitude in music or math. We credit Adora's achievement to her immense desire to know and understand history and human nature, and her desire to help others. Despite her rather macabre interest in piracy and despots, her simple and sincere wish is for human beings to live in peace and harmony. She has a huge kind heart and she wants to do many things in her life.
Adora's ideals are backed up by a rebellious spirit. Her writing is driven by a desire to share her ideas and get people thinking. Creating her own female characters has been both liberating and educational. She says she wants her protagonists to be ‘smart, strong, caring and compassionate, and later unwittingly pigeonholes herself when she admits to a natural inclination that has plagued writers for centuries, “A lot of times I give my protagonists my own characteristics.”
Her mother Joyce believes that reading and writing about strong, smart, compassionate female characters has had reciprocal benefits for Adora.
“Adora puts a lot of herself into her protagonists, but she also learns from them. When you are trying to create a strong, intelligent, compassionate character, you spend a lot of time thinking about how they would react to any given situation. You start to be more aware of the strong, smart, compassionate way to react to other people.”
Adora values decisive heroines-girls who are as comfortable with a sword as a pencil, and is dismissive of the roles girls play in much of what she reads, “Like in sleeping beauty she didn't do that much, and Cinderella she was just this girl who was mistreated by her sisters and then all of a sudden she goes and marries this prince who she doesn't even know. I mean she doesn't even know him at all .”
When asked how she feels when she reads a book that has insipid female characters, she responds caustically, “I don't. I just throw the book down. It makes me angry at the absurdity of these ideas.”
Though she says she mostly just writes for fun, Adora's belief in herself and her belief in female strength in general is already inspiring other girls to set their sites higher. She may still be tiny, but her characters' accomplishments are making a huge impact on the way girls think about their own potential.
Adora has imagination, an ability to distill her vast learning into dynamic prose, the courage and curiosity to explore different genres, the wisdom and maturity to accept and learn from criticism, and a tireless desire to better her craft by writing and revising every day. She truly is a working literary giant.