Spelling bee champion Zaila Avant-garde, 16, will make her literary debut this year with two children’s books, Random House announced in a news release.
Avant-garde, who made history in 2021 by becoming the first African American person, and second Black person, to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She’s also a noted basketball player and juggler.
Random House Children’s Books will publish Avant-garde’s middle-grade nonfiction book, It’s Not Bragging If It’s True: How To Be Awesome at Life, on May 2. The press calls the book “an empowering collection of true stories that she hopes will motivate and uplift other kids who are pursuing their dreams.”
On June 27, Random House will publish Avant-garde’s picture book, Words of Wonder From Z to A, illustrated by Keisha Morris. “This book contains words such as kindness, hope, and resilience, alongside her encouraging and poetic thoughts,” Random House says. “Each bright and busy page includes a quotation from a famous thought leader, and an afterword details the fascinating origins of each word.”
“I’m extremely excited to have my first books published, and I’m especially happy that they are for kids,” Avant-garde said in a statement. “As a child who knew my favorite books by heart, I know firsthand the joy that a good book can bring. When I was a little girl, if you had told me that in ten years I would be writing books of my own, I wouldn’t have believed it. This is such an awesome feeling.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.