kiara-kaur-with-books-1642861724004
Kiara has an undying appetite for reading Image Credit: Supplied

Al Ain: Getting a platform like TEDx to deliver a speech is a dream for many great orators. A five-year-old girl in the UAE recently achieved that dream and has been acknowledged as the world’s youngest TEDx speaker by the London-based World Book of Records.

Meet Kiara Kaur, an American citizen of Indian origin, who gave a nine-minute speech on a virtual episode of a TEDx talk organised by a TED community in India’s Maharashtra state.

kiara-kaur-1-1642861725857
Kiara said she has "an extra scoop" of curiosity during her TEDx talk Image Credit: Supplied

In her talk titled ‘Unboxing Curiosity’, Kiara said she is a very talkative and inquisitive girl, adding that her curiosity would have been locked in a box if her grandparents and parents had not given her time and guidance.

She shared her “inspirational journey” since the age of one, till she made it to the World Book of Records at the age of four for reading 36 books nonstop for an hour and 45 minutes.

“Curiosity is a spark behind every great idea and I am one with an extra scoop of that,” she said in the opening of her TEDx talk.

Kiara, who was in the news last year for her record in reading, also claims that she has read over 2,000 books so far. Known for her undying appetite for reading fuelled by her strong sense of curiosity, Kiara says “age is just a number”.

The Al Ain resident was inspired to read at the age of two by her grandparents who live in the US —Lt Col MP Singh who retired from the Indian Army and Dr Rita Batra, a gynecologist—said her mother Dr Little Mahendran.

“She was born in the US when I was doing my postdoctoral studies over there. She grew up seeing her grandparents reading a lot and she also showed a keen interest in books. But I never realised her extraordinary passion in reading till her nursery teacher told me about it,” said Dr Little, who vows that neither she or her husband Dr Ravindranath forced their only child into reading.

The dentist couple said they just supported her after her nursery teacher told them how much Kiara loves reading even before she was formally introduced to phonics.

Tryst with a stranger

Kiara says in her TEDx talk that an experience she had had with a stranger at a café led her to becoming even more interested in reading with her mother’s advice.

“I love talking to people and making friends,” Kiara said in an interview with Gulf News. “Some people call me a chatterbox, gabby or a talking machine.”

Since the stranger at the café did not entertain her talks when she wanted to befriend him, an upset Kiara was given a piece of advice by her mother—read some books and learn some topics to discuss with people so that they would not get bored answering her repeated questions, which was her way of talking those days.

“She liked that idea and picked it up from there,” said Dr Little. Thus, Kiara became an avid reader, also to satisfy her wish to “talk to people.”

“I talk to everyone. Everybody is my friend. I have friends of different ages, from different countries. Anybody can be anybody’s friend. You just have to be kind. I like to talk a lot. Since I read a lot, I have lots of topics to discuss with them. I also talk about my hobbies—reading, swimming and singing.”

Kiara, who should be attending grade one, is currently learning online lessons for grade three from a school in India as she has already mastered the previous grades’ syllabi.

“She had started writing cursive letters at the age of three. She used to get bored learning alphabet in the KG class,” said Dr Little.

Hence, her parents checked for other schooling options that suit her level of knowledge.

kiara-kaur-with-grandparents-1642861728348
Kiara with her grandparents Image Credit: Supplied

Her first book

Unlike most kids these days, Kiara does not like to watch TV and prefers to pick up a book whenever she is free. “When she gets up she needs a book. In the night, sometimes I have to force her to stop reading,” said Dr Little.

“She is interested in doing her usual school activities and she is very keen on doing science experiments also. She is using books for learning new languages. Sometimes I have to check YouTube videos to help her with pronunciation. She still prefers books with pictures to learn the languages.”

With a love for languages, Kiara is currently studying French and Spanish. The voracious reader is also set to release her first book, ‘Diary of a 5-Year-Old Genius Chatterbox Who Set World Records’.

Kiara has also been praised by Howard Stephen Berg, who holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s fastest reader (25,000 words per minute).

“She is already very bright and I am helping her maximise her natural learning ability to unleash her complete genius. I expect great things from Kiara as she grows up with this super learning skill and her innate ability to learn,” US-based Berg wrote to Kiara’s parents after a virtual meeting with her.