Books

Yes niece! Spelling Bee Master Zaila Avantgarde to publish two children’s books

Zaila Avantgarde, the Louisiana native who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee at age 14 in 2021, can now add author to her impressive resume.

PEOPLE reports that Avantgarde will publish two brand new books for Random House Children’s Books. Her first book, nonfiction titled “It’s Not Bragging If It’s True: How to Be Awesome in Life,” is out May 2. The other is a picture book titled “Words of Wonder from Z to A,” set to be released on June 27.

“I am extremely excited to have my first books published, and I am especially happy that they are for children,” she said in a press release. “As a child who knew my favorite books by heart, I know firsthand the joy a good book can bring,” she told PEOPLE.

“It’s Not Bragging If It’s True” is for readers ages 8 to 12 and includes several personal anecdotes that illustrate how the teen has accomplished so much at a young age.

The book was written in collaboration with the author Marti Dumas. As a young author, Avantgarde says she hopes her book “will motivate and uplift other kids who are pursuing their dreams.”

In “Words of Wonder from Z to A,” the master speller uses some of his favorite motivational words — including kindness, hope and resilience — to create his inspiring piece of work. The book contains some special quotes from a famous thought leader on each page.

“These books are for those readers who have their favorite stories memorized over and over and don’t dare their parents to read to them at bedtime (like me),” the teenage phenom said in a press release.

“But most of all they are dedicated to the children who are nervous about picking up a book and reading it, who don’t read them just because they think they are not good at it. I’m here to say you can do it too,” she added.

Before becoming a writer, she rose to fame at the age of 14 as the first black American winner of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Avantgarde was also named SportsKid of the Year by Sports Illustrated Kids and won the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character in 2021.

Now 16, she says she wants to play college basketball and one day coach in the NBA. The award-winning teenager is also interested in neuroscience, forensics and molecular biology.

Regarding her writing career, she notes, “If you told me ten years ago that I’d be writing my own books, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s such an incredible feeling.”

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