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Before all of the awards, accolades and before all of the Hollywood lights, when she was growing up, Octavia Spencer had trouble reading. Due to dyslexia, the words were jumbled, and she would have to start reading the same passages over and over again, losing interest.

But a teacher figured out that mystery stories might be a good way to keep Spencer engaged in reading.

“I’m reading today because of Encyclopedia Brown,” the 44-year-old Oscar-winning actress told students from Geneva Middle Schools North and South at an assembly.

Her love of mysteries; her love of movies by martial-arts actors Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee; and a fondness for science experiments inspired her to write the “Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective” books for middle school readers. The series of books have become popular to both kids and parents alike.

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