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Adora inspires children

 

Prodigy on a mission to turn children into lovers of literature

She dashes off poems and reads Voltaire in her spare time. Now Adora, eight, is coming to tell British pupils how to write

Anushka Asthana and Matthew Ogborn
Sunday February 19, 2006
The Observer


Adora Svitak loves to read and write. Over the past 18 months she has had a 296-page book published and written 400 short stories and nearly 100 poems. Typing at 80 words a minute, she has produced 370,000 words while reading up to three books a day. The last novel she finished was Voltaire's Candide. Not bad for an eight-year-old.


As if that wasn't enough, the child prodigy has also made it her mission to persuade other youngsters to ditch their computer games and pick up a book or a pen






'When I was little I thought everyone in the world liked to read, because it was so fun,' said Adora. 'But then I realised that was not exactly true. I want other kids to read and write more all over the world, because it helps them to understand things better.'


Adora tours schools in her native Seattle, demonstrating touch-typing and carrying out PowerPoint presentations on how she learnt to write and why it is fun to read.


She takes in props, such as cuddly toys, to show how things around her inspire story ideas. One of her slides reads: 'If I saw a black cat near my house, I could make up a whole story about a witch and the family she had cursed.'


In June she hopes to come to Britain to convince children here of the joy of reading. But some have questioned whether she will get as warm a welcome as she does in America. Children who have struggled with reading might feel patronised, said one child psychologist.


And few will be able to understand the difficult books that Adora can tackle in a morning. She reads widely, from fiction to history and biography. She was only four when she started writing stories, but her writing really took off when her mother bought her a laptop at six. At seven, her first book, Flying Fingers, a mix of her own fiction and writing tips for others, was published. She already has a deal for her second book, a collection of poetry.


Adora is supported by Joyce, who is an interpreter. But she insists the campaign is Adora's own doing. 'She does this off her own back,' she said. 'She understands what she is doing, but we do encourage and support her.' Their decision to come to the UK comes after figures showed that 52 per cent of five-year-olds failed to reach literacy, language and development targets.


Reading for pleasure is one way to push up achievement, according to Viv Bird, director of Reading is Fundamental, a project run by the National Literacy Trust. She said peer-to-peer encouragement was very important: 'It is fantastic that Adora is getting people thinking about books. I just hope her trip is not met with too much cynicism.'


Bird said it would be good if Adora teamed up with local children who were also writing books.


One British success is keen to meet Adora. Libby Rees, author of Help, Hope and Happiness - a self-help book for children whose parents are divorcing - said: 'It would be fun to meet someone who has done something like me. I really hope I have encouraged children to write.'


Libby, who is 10, is set to host her own Trisha-style chat show later this year. Charles Faulkner, of her publishers, Aultbea Publishing, said it was the honest and positive outlook of children that made their writing unique. 'It is not just their age, but the quality of work is very refreshing,' he added. 'These children are exceptionally bright and ahead of their years in school.'


Adora has the reading age of 20, according to her teachers. But success hasn't gone to her head.


'She is not arrogant at all,' said her writing teacher, Felisa Rogers. 'She is above average ability, but we make sure we tell her that this is because of her hard work.'


Adora the author


Prince Garrick scornfully tossed aside a beautifully gold-embossed leather-bound book. 'Peasant's trash,' he scoffed to the trembling minion who had presented the gift.


'B-beg p-pardon, y-your sup-superior h-highness, I n-never meant no h-harm,' the servant stuttered, stepping back and tripping over an ornately designed china pitcher.'


Extract from Flying Fingers




 
 
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