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Zaila Avant-garde: Former Spelling Bee Champ Turned Author

Updated: May 17, 2023

Scripps National Spelling Bee champ Zaila Avant-garde author
Cover of Zaila's first book

Zaila Avant-garde is no stranger to the spotlight and making huge accomplishments. In 2021, she made history and captivated the hearts of many when she became the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the age of 14. While on her press run following her big win, we were introduced to the many talents that Zaila has, and gave us even more reasons to root for her success.

Now, at age 16, 2 years after her huge spelling bee victory, the Louisiana native is now a published author with a new book and 3 more on the way. “It’s Not Bragging If It’s True: How to be Awesome at Life” is out now. In collaboration with author, Marti Dumas, the book features many empowering short stories based on Zaila’s life. In an interview with People Magazine, the teen author said “ She hopes her books motivate and uplift other kids who are pursuing their dreams.” Later this year, the new author will have a 2nd book coming for younger children. “Words of Wonder From Z to A”, a picture book will be released on June 27th.

spelling bee champ and world record holder Zaila Avant-garde

Aside from her incredible spelling talents and a new job as an author, the spelling bee champ is a Guinness World Record holder. The basketball star holds 4 different records for her dribbling abilities. On November 14, 2019, she became the recorder holder for: The most bounce juggles in 1 minute with 3 basketballs (231) and the most bounces of 4 basketballs in 30 seconds (307). The following year on November 2, she became the record holder for most bounce juggles in 1 minute with 4 basketballs (255) and then on January 26th, 2021, she tied the existing record for most basketballs dribbled at one time (6). She also won the silver medal for juggling at the International Jugglers Association 2020 championship.

Zaila is a multi-talented star and a bright mind. Right now, she says she is focused on school and basketball. She hopes to play college basketball and work towards a career as an NBA coach and work in the field of forensics, neuroscience, or molecular biology. It’ll be fun to watch this young lady fulfill all her passions in the future.


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