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Child Prodigy Embarks on Campaign for Literacy

Adora Svitak says the best way to promote literacy is to encourage children to love reading and writing. At the age of nine, Adora has already published a book, is currently writing another one, has written over 400 short stories and more than 100 poems, and has her own website. And now she is about to embark on a trip to Asia where she hopes to spread her message about literacy and world peace. In New York, VOA's Mona Ghuneim has the story.

Adora Svitak has a message for children all over the world. She says reading and writing are the most important tools for learning. If you can read and write well, she says, you can do just about anything.

"I consider reading a very key way to spread information, to learn things, to be able to connect with other people, which leads to better bridges of trust and less misunderstanding, which can lead to better world peace," said Adora Svitak.

Adora says she wants to spread her message the world over and persuade children to love reading and writing as much as she does. She says she has been writing since the age of four, and she believes writing is a skill we will always need.

"I think that writing is a skill that we should keep well-oiled and because of the introduction of e-mail, instant messaging, this shouldn't mean that we forget about our writing skills," she said.

Adora lives with her parents and older sister in the northwestern state of Washington where she is taught at home by her mother, Joyce Svitak. A typical day for Adora consists of writing for several hours in the morning and then taking classes with her sister in the afternoon.

In September, the nine-year-old author, whose father is American and mother Chinese, will take her message on the road for three months. Adora will travel to Asia where she says she is looking forward to visiting China, in particular.

"I believe that while Chinese education is very advanced and somewhat strict, they are not on such a high level," said Adora. "They don't promote creativity and imagination as much."

Adora enjoys reading and writing fantasy and historical fiction the most. Her book Flying Fingers was co-written with her mother and published when Adora was seven. A collection of adventure stories, poetry, tips on writing, and interviews with Adora, the book features a story called, The Tools of the Trade.

In the story, a young apprentice painter works for a harsh master who doesn't teach him anything, but rather uses him for menial tasks. Then one day the apprentice paints something on his own and realizes that he is actually a good painter, Adora says.

"Miles looked up from the book he was reading," Adora read from her short story. "Didoni Marcelleni, his master, frowned at him. "I believe I told you to wash my paint brushes," Didoni said, putting his large boney hands on his hips. 'Sorry, Master,' Miles said, grinning guiltily, 'My mind wandered off for the moment.'"

'"Wandered off!' Didoni snorted. 'Forgot, more like. But no mind. Tomorrow we are off for Bulrox where the Duke himself resides. If luck is with us, the Duke himself may ask me to paint his portrait or perhaps commission a portrait of his Duchess. Then Master, won't we be lucky indeed?' Miles asked, his grin even wider. 'Don't be pert! Now hurry up with the tasks I give you!' Didoni exclaimed."

Adora says the apprentice runs away and experiences various adventures. When his master finds him, he has a change of heart and agrees that Miles is a very good painter.

The point of The Tools of the Trade is people should live up to their potential, no matter how old they happen to be.