"Happy News" Questionnaire

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"Happy News" Questionnaire


ADORA SVITAK

-When did you get involved in writing and reading?

I started my writing journey at the age of four, writing longhand with help from my mom. My mom bought me a black Dell laptop when I was six. The secondhand, somewhat weather-battered computer allowed me to organize my thoughts effectively in stories and poems, compared to time-consuming longhand writing, as I was able to learn how to type very quickly. My dad read to me and my older (eleven-year-old) sister, Adrianna, at bedtime when we were little, and we loved reading from an early age. When I began reading, I often read "advanced" books that were in "higher" grade levels.

-Why do you enjoy reading and writing so much?

I believe writing is a great way to express your thoughts to other people. Writing also gives us the chance to communicate and understand each other, making a better, less conflict-ravaged world possible. I also like writing because it gives me the chance to organize my thoughts and "empty my mind", making it easy to remember things of the past (for instance, a memorable vacation) while still having enough "brain space" to observe the present carefully. Writing also gives me the chance to have fun while utilizing learning skills. Writing is really an enjoyable, interesting experience because I actually live with my characters; it's a break from everyday life. I love reading because this gives me the chance to understand other people and get different perspectives on issues, different views. This gives me the chance to learn more about the world and other people. Reading also gives me the ability to learn while enjoying myself, and reading allows me to "live with the characters" while still being surprised at unexpected twists and turns. Reading brings me to different places while I'm still comfortably propped up against an infinite number of fluffy pillows. I'm able to meet thousands of new people, make millions of friends, live a countless number of lives. Reading can give me experience, knowledge, and personal enjoyment.

-What do you like about each one?

Note: Included in previous question's answer.

-Why do you feel it is important for people, specifically younger people to read and write?

I believe it's extremely important to bring reading and writing into the household, and introduce reading and writing to children at an early age. It's never "too early" for learning. Babies in the womb, according to studies, are observing sounds, etc., even before delivery. Children continue to observe and learn through childhood--even some 'older' children, after all! Reading and writing helps enhance this learning experience and opens eyes to thousands of perspectives on countless issues, while, through writing, providing effective ways to share one's own perspectives with a wider audience. Reading and writing are useful tools in the learning journey, and provide enjoyable ways to learn new information (reading), while providing ways to express opinions and use skills learned (writing).

-What would you say to someone who is young that says he or she doesn’t like to read?

I would list my own reasons for liking reasons to the particular individual. Reading gives me the chance to explore faraway and fantasy places and meet people we would be very likely unable to meet in real life--after all, we hear about people like Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington, and JK Rowling all the time; reading gives us the chance to actually see these people in front of us with our own eyes, not on the TV screen. Reading adds to my store of knowledge; I learn new words effortlessly through reading; instead of toiling away at blunt, continuous lists of words and words, I'm able to quickly look words up on my computer/in a dictionary. I'm also able to learn new facts and see matters from different perspectives, helping me learn more about people. For the normal public school student "struggling in social circles", reading provides an easy way to advance on the school popularity ladder, impressing friends to the envy of enemies with interesting knowledge. Last, but certainly not least, and a great way to sum up all these reasons-- reading is FUN!

-How would you go about inspiring them to read?

Note: Included in previous question's answer.

-What types of writing do you do? How many books have you written?

I have written over four hundred stories, but I've only published one book, Flying Fingers. Three more books are currently in the works (already written but being fine-tuned) and I write poems avidly (one hundred to two hundred poems so far). I occasionally write historical fiction (an example might be "Agymah and the Amulet", a short story, located in Flying Fingers), but fantasy tends to be my most widely-explored genre, as I'm able to use my imagination for creative names while still using my knowledge of history and human nature to create my own worlds.

-What other interests do you have outside of reading and writing?

I really love cooking with my eleven-year-old sister, Adrianna. My mom and dad are both very supportive of our culinary pursuits (despite stunning evidence of gross negligence regarding the urge to clean up after oneself, supposed to be morally inserted in our conscience), and, while I must admit our products (healthy snacks like strawberry-yogurt-with-apple-chunk muffins, extravagantly unhealthy "decadent chocolate" butter-filled brownies, and more "typical dinner fare" like cheese-with-don't-know-what-the-heck-that-healthy-veggie-is pizza) do taste good, I'm still--gratefully--amazed our parents continue to consent to let us enter the kitchen. Other than cooking I love drawing. I hope this does not sound like a bragging attempt, but I have advanced somewhat in what I call "imaginative portraiture" (portraits of stiff-faced, regal people from my imagination). While I call this stuff imaginative I do sometimes use real models--I placed a no doubt disgruntled but younger George Washington, very respectfully, in Bank of America headquarters (whatever Bank of America looks like) accompanied by a gold box of snuff and those ever-present "Bank Lollipops" (free for the picking). Another samples of these types of drawings of mine would be a Queen-Elizabeth-the-First-like-character, disapproving expression on face, in front of our own living room window. The window looks out onto our neighbor's house, and the towering trees beside it, which looks unintentionally like some sort of ski resort lodge. As I am an innocent, perfect little nine-year-old doll, I shall maliciously bog you down with technical descriptions of my sadly unprofessional equipment--a "Dark Wash", thick, very, very black pencil, which I use for outlines and roughs, and a somewhat-sharpened normal pencil with a flat eraser, for facial details and delicate parts. I use what I can to erase, most often a blackened, worn-down eraser, sometimes a mutilated eraser from a broken pencil, and, while many "erasing skids" are clearly displayed, this system gets along pretty well. Drawing makes up perhaps fifty percent of my time? maybe less, maybe more, on different days. A lot of my audience ask about me regarding sports. I love ice skating (although I don't get the chance to do it much, the nearest ice skating rink is thirty minutes to an hour away from here, and we've been too lazy to make the drive). I also love swimming, although, again, between my mom's vicious health concerns and Seattle's vicious weather, I don't get the chance to do it that much. Last summer I (finally!) learned to jump off the diving board (I can't really dive well, with the arm over head thing, but I can do a cannonball and a twist in the air and all that), and I swim in the deep end, etc. I don't swim particularly fast, but I don't tire very quickly, and I go underwater easily, and I don't mind opening my eyes underwater, either, although I know I probably shouldn't. More sports--I love biking. I have a shiny-new dark purple Magna bike, bedecked in an infinite number of glittering "Stardust" stickers. Perhaps it's not classified as new anymore--when I first got it, it had training wheels, but now I'm comfortably out of that training sphere. Unfortunately I have a tendency to veer too sharply, knocking me off my bike, and sometimes when I ride I do zigzags and I have difficulty keeping to the path, sometimes riding into soaked grass, mud, stones, and City Hall shrubbery. And while "playing outside" can't really be considered a valid hobby, perhaps mud-making is? Adrianna and I produced a large vat of mud for future use in the summer (we made it in the winter with rain accumulation and slug-infested dirt). We have a club in the backyard which was formerly called the D.A.M. club (most of us are so thickened with age we can't remember what it stands for), and Adrianna and I formally changed the name of the club to the "Ontario Club", a name I proudly picked myself. It sounds like it's by the Great Lakes or something. Also, I like photography and blogging. For Christmas my mom bought me a digital camera (in return for my promise to continue writing poems and blogs faithfully.)

-Why is it important for girls to not be portrayed in negative light?

Women are an essential force in today's society, and have been essential forces in the world throughout history. Women today serve in many prestigious roles with great skill and capability, like politics, the media, business, science, etc., while many women continue to provide a gigantic helping hand at home. Women have for centuries shouldered duties men were incapable--or too lazy--to do, and continue to shoulder many of these duties. In some countries women continue to manage family finances. Women have influenced the course of history and gained power through their own merits; this is why it is important for the modern-day individual to respect this rich history and realize women are capable in many fields, not cut out just for housekeeping and childbearing, and deserve to be treated like any other citizen of this world. Unfortunately companies like Disney treat women as helpless damsels in distress. While some despicable women in history have been specimens like these, overall women are strong, intelligent, and resourceful. The kind of "damsel in distress" Disney puts forward as models for another generation of women are anything but beacons of light in darkness--do we want to be raising wailing Cinderellas waiting for the fairy godmother without a thought of her own? Is this generation of parents going to be comforted by their fairytale princesses being swept off golden unicorns into reality and Sadly Ever After endings? This is why women should be portrayed in a more realistic light than at present, as determined, clever human beings instead of shallow damsels in distress.

-What is your goal with having the Web site, writing books and giving presentations? Are you sending a specific message? What would that be?

My goal is to spread a message of worldwide literacy. I believe it's never to early to learn, and this is another one of the messages I wholeheartedly believe which many of my presentations spread. I also show viewers how technology like Microsoft Word and the World Wide Web can be used positively to enhance students' educational experiences. I believe technology is a great help in education, a tool which should be made available to every student. In my presentations, I inspire my audience (mainly public school children) to read and write; I help children express their ideas with clarity and fine tune existing writing skills. In some of my presentations I also teach vocabulary. I wrote and published the book Flying Fingers because, 1) I just wanted to get my thoughts out and express my feelings clearly so other people (namely my family and friends) could understand me better, and 2) I published the book because I wanted my writing to reach a wider audience, to both help other people understand me and my life, and to spread a message I realized was relevant and neccessary in today's world. My website,
www.adorasvitak.com, is a way for people to understand me and my message better; it has some of my early drawings (I don't draw nearly so bad now!), poetry, etc.

-How many places have you given presentations too? What states, countries have you been to?

My presentations have taken me across the U.S., from Redmond, Washington (where I live), to Orlando, Florida, from NY, NY, to London, England. I've given presentations to mainly often low-income public schools, but I've also participated in events like the Verizon Family Literacy Conference, the Keller Williams Inspirational Breakfast, etc. I also presented at Stony Brook University's Charles B. Wang Center in Long Island. Every time I learn new and interesting techniques which allow me to improve my future speeches.

-What are some famous people you have met, and what talk shows have you been on?

The most prestigious talk shows I've been on include Montel Williams, Good Morning America, and Oprah (video clip). I was also featured on NBC's Making a Difference, a major TV network in the U.K., "Sky"; I was on the BBC (radio) in the U.K., and Voices of America as well. I've been on a number of major newspapers and other publications, including U.K.'s popular "Daily Mirror". As for famous people I've met--Montel Williams, Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, and Tom Vilsack.

-How did you like the TLC series on the Discovery Channel on kids that you were on?

I really thought BBC America's "My Life as a Child" series was very excellently designed and organized. This show gave Discovery/TLC viewers a chance to see the lives of twenty very different children, with footage from the points of view of the children themselves. Videocameras in the children's power followed their families' every action, giving an accurate view of life to eager viewers. You could feel the anxiety of going to that first major performance, whoop along with delighted--and excited--children, etc. While some scenes were stormy, it was all family-friendly, and definitely an educational experience for the TV audience. Personally I had a great time filming for "My Life as a Child". The videocamera was small and easy to transport to destinations like Europe and New York, and while there were some blows (mistaking a tape cleaner for a tape and losing an hour's worth of footage to a useless piece of plastic), etc., it was an overall great experience for the entire family.

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