Edward Irving Wortis, or known to most by his pen name Avi, is an award-winning children’s book author. His short children’s novel Crispin: The Cross of Lead won the author a Newbery Medal in 2003. Avi’s success didn’t stem from overwhelming encouragement and positive criticism from his teachers though. He was constantly reprimanded for his poor writing and spelling skills; he would later learn as an adult he struggled with these skills because of dyslexia.

Avi’s success as a writer grew out of an interest in reading and writing he has had since early schooling. Throughout elementary and high school, though, Avi repeatedly was marked down for his poor spelling, sloppiness, and tendency to reverse letters on papers and homework. His parents had him tested and learned that Avi showed “symptoms of dyslexia”, a phrase Avi did not realize had been attached to him until adulthood. Both Avi and his teachers were unaware of the label “symptoms of dyslexia” during his schooling because he grew up in a time where dyslexia might be viewed as an embarrassing or unintelligent trait and his parents chose not to tell him or the school district.

After failing high school, Avi began special tutoring sessions over the summer. It was during these sessions that Avi grew inspired to become a writer. When he finally got to college, Avi didn’t take any English classes in order to avoid the criticism towards his “sloppiness” he had received in his earlier schooling. He continued to read and write though, determined to play out his hopes of becoming a writer.

Over the course of his career, Avi has published fifty books including the famous children's novels Perloo the Bold and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. His success as an author has spanned over fifty years and has won him two Newbery Honors as well as a Newbery Medal.

Read more and watch an interview about Avi at Readingrockets.org.