Dietrich and Diedre Baker of Puyallup have a problem all parents wish they had — a kid who reads too much.
Their 9-year-old daughter Darya spends most of her time diving into whatever fantasy series or other novels she can get her hands on — and that has spurred an interest in creating her own stories.
“That’s what she does,” Dietrich Baker said. “She reads, and when she’s not reading she’s writing.”
Darya’s love for stories recently gained her national recognition.
Diedre Baker said her daughter started writing often when she was in kindergarten, the same year she submitted her first entry for a PBS writing contest.
This year, her third time competing in the national PBS Kids Go Writers Contest, Darya placed third in the country among third-graders for her story “Puddle Trouble.”
The story was a class assignment about a shark-filled puddle and Darya’s attempt to save her brother from danger.
“I was just jumping around and I wanted to tell everybody,” Darya said of receiving the news of the results.
The contest has been running for nearly 20 years and is open to children in kindergarten through third grade. PBS affiliate KBTC in Tacoma has participated for four years, said spokeswoman Susan Barbeau.
Each year KBTC takes submissions locally and chooses winners from each grade to compete at the national level, Barbeau said.
Darya is well-known at KBTC; she was chosen at the local level two out of her three years of participation to move on to the national competition and took 10th in the country for her kindergarten submission.
“I like creating stories about what I imagine in my free time,” Darya said.
Diedre Baker said her daughter has a vivid imagination and she’s excited others get to witness her gift.
“It helps her dream of being a writer someday be more real to her,” she said.
Darya has two younger brothers at home. The soon-to-be fourth-grader at Maplewood Elementary in Puyallup wants to write and publish books when she’s older.
Darya has also dabbled in publishing; in first grade she started a newspaper to earn money for an American Girl doll. She wrote articles and published six issues every month that she sold to her parents’ friends.
Her newest project is a chapter book about a girl who competes in cooking contests.
Darya’s favorite books are the best-selling historical novel “The Robe” by Lloyd C. Douglas and the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques.
Looking ahead to fourth grade, Darya will likely submit to a letter-writing contest that she was previously too young to enter.
“It’s hard for us to keep up with her little projects,” Dietrich Baker said.
Darya’s grandmother, Shirley Eubanks of Renton, said it was an early introduction to reading that sparked Darya’s love affair with words.
“I think it is a wonderful gift that she’s been given,” Eubanks said. “I think she’s going to apply that in many ways, and I’d encourage others to find joy in reading.”
To see Darya’s TV spot and a video of her narrating her story, go to ht.ly/nfxJb
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