Soon-to-be-16-year-old Zaila Avant-garde has accomplished more than most of her peers. She burst into the national spotlight in 2021 when she won the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the age of 14. Her victory marked the first time in the history of the prestigious event that an African American student took home the championship.
Now, just two short years later, Avant-garde is adding a new title to her impressive list of accomplishments: children’s book author. And, as a proven high achiever, she didn’t settle for writing only one book. The new author will release two books in 2023.
Followers of the young celebrity got their first glance at the new books thanks to a Jan. 18 tweet from the new author.
Penguin Random House will release “It’s Not Bragging If It’s True” on May 2. The middle-grade level book (ages 8-12), written by Avant-garde (with Marti Dumas) is a nonfiction account of the author’s life, her response to her instant fame following her Scripps National Spelling Bee victory, and advice for other kids who have “small-, medium-, and even big-sized dreams,” according to Penguin Random House’s description.
Just a few weeks later, on June 27, Avant-garde’s second book, “Words of Wonder from Z to A,” will hit the market.
Written for children ages 3-7, this picture book brings 26 of the author’s favorite words to life, including “hope,” “kindness” and “resilience.”
Random House describes each page as “bright and busy” with inspiring quotes from famous people in history. At the end of the book, a special section is dedicated to the origins of each word, which is similar to what the Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants study.
In a press release shared with People magazine, Avant-garde said she wrote the books to serve a wide-ranging audience.
"These books are for the readers who have their favorite stories memorized forward and backward and dare their parents not to read to them at bedtime (like me),” she shared in the press release via People. “But they are most of all dedicated to the kids who are nervous about picking up a book and reading it, who don’t read them simply because they think they are not good at it. I’m here to say you can do it too.”
Scripps News and the Scripps National Spelling Bee share a parent company, The E.W. Scripps Company.