Video: Making a difference

By Peter Alexander Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/9/2006 7:46:34 PM ET 2006-06-09T23:46:34

To get a good read on Adora Svitak, watch her eyes and her fingers. This is a little girl with big stories to tell. For this home-schooled 8-year-old, reading and writing are like breathing.

"With writing, I can express myself, really, and share my ideas and just let my thoughts flow out," says Adora.

That flow is more like an 80-words-a-minute flood. Adora's written nearly 400 short stories, even published her first book last year.

And, when this little grown-up goes to school, it's not to learn, but to lead. Armed with her imagination — and a PowerPoint presentation — Adora travels from school to school. Her audience, on the day we visited, was 500 students, most older than she is.

Nationwide, students are becoming better readers. Still, more than one-third of fourth-graders can't read at the level they should. And at Madrona Elementary in Seattle, Adora's trying to change that. She even tutors one-on-one, inspiring seventh-grader Raven Dean.

"I didn't think I could do that, but when I did try, it did work," says Raven.

In eight months, Adora has reached 10 schools in the Seattle area and nearly 2,000 students.

Does she make students want to write?

"Definitely," says second-grader Erin Murray, "because she wrote so much, it made me think I can write so much."

And what's at stake if students don't follow Adora's lead?

"We will be more of an uneducated society," she says. "We will misunderstand each other, distrust each other."

Adora Svitak is one young girl who's teaching her generation that loving to read and write isn't a novel idea.

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