Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Welcome from Wayne Mills, MNZM, International Quizmaster

Hi Everyone

Congratulations to Canberra Grammar School (coach: Janine Hudson and team: James, James, Nick and Leo) for defending their Australian national title and once again vying for honors on the world stage of the Kids’ Lit Quiz™.

What a wonderful initiative your parents and friends have started up here – Reading for Australia. It’s a place where readers can exchange and share their love of books with each other and engage in discussions with writers, illustrators and other creators who love books. It’s the sort of place I wish existed when I was a book-obsessed kid!

Reading for Australia has received generous support from writers and other creators in Australia. The participants of this blog join a worldwide family of readers spanning four continents and 22 years of author involvement in the Kids’ Lit Quiz.

Eva Ibbotson

In Oxford, our guest speaker, Philip Pullman spoke about the power of the written book in the electronic age. In venues as diverse as Edinburgh, Johannesburg, Hamilton and Auckland, hundreds of authors have given their time and support to the Kids’ Lit Quiz, from the likes of Theresa Breslin to Gillian Cross to Robert Muchamore and more recently Malorie Blackman.

I thank you all and hope that you find your involvement in the Kids ’Lit Quiz to be rewarding in return.

Michael Rosen and Wayne Mills

From its embryonic beginnings in 1991, the Quiz has grown from a local competition in Hamilton (NZ) to a national and then a world-wide competition. All this came about because good readers were not receiving the recognition that I felt they deserved. I noticed that kids were being rewarded for rugby, netball and cricket but never for excelling in reading. The Quiz continues to grow with potential interest being shown from Botswana, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. We await with interest developments in these countries.

There have been many wonderful milestones and occasions over the years. In 2004, Dunblane High School from Scotland came out to New Zealand to represent the UK. Their pride and satisfaction in winning the World title helped them to put past events behind them. Since then, we have held regular world competitions in various countries. In 2013, over 4000 children around the world participated in the Kids' Lit Quiz.

The 2004 team from Dunblane

All of this could not have been achieved without the Kids’ Lit Quiz national coordinators who have taken on extraordinary work loads - entirely voluntarily – because they saw the potential of the Kids’ Lit Quiz to motivate kids to read and enhance students’ self esteem. Parents frequently comment on how the Kids’ Lit Quiz has assisted in extending and widening their child’s reading range.

I speak of Nicole Deans, the Australian coordinator, who attended the World Final in 2011 as an observer, introducing it in Australia the following year with 13 teams and expanding this year to 49 teams with regional heats in Ipswich, Orange and Canberra (where the national final was also held.)

In the UK, Jacky Atkinson organizes a massive sixteen heats a year – the most in any country; there are over 260 schools and 430 teams taking part.

Then there’s Marj Brown in South Africa who has also introduced the quiz into poorer black schools twinning them with more literate white schools. These are the Phendulani quizzes.

As I write, the South African Durban committee headed by Marj, Isobel, Bev, Linda and their team of volunteers with huge support from The Times newspaper are preparing to welcome this year’s contestants (from Australia, The UK, The USA, Canada, and New Zealand) to South Africa in July.

The current South African champions, Roedean School,ready for the 2013 World Finals in Durban

In Canada, Nancy Davidson and her entrepreneurial committee fund-raise annually to grow the Kids' Lit Quiz and, just this April, held a very successful Fun Trivia Night at the Granite Brewery in Toronto for mixed teams of kids and adults.

In the USA, Cathy Kurkjian and the Department of Reading and Language Arts at the Central Connecticut State University give their entire support to the Quiz too.

Kids' Lit Quiz comes to the States - look carefully!

In New Zealand, 12 regional coordinators assist me in running the national competitions which attracts 255 schools and 425 teams.

Last year's world champions, Awakeri school from New Zealand

Behind every national coordinator there are regional coordinators and everybody in the chain works because they believe in what they’re doing – nobody is paid – they’re all volunteers with day jobs, mostly in the educational sector. These are people who know and care about literacy.

To all the kids reading along with the Australian team, I hope that this blog adds colour and interest to your reading tastes and introduces you to new ideas, genres and worlds because it is no mistake that books are shaped like doors! Perhaps you’ll try out for next year’s Quiz.

To the boys in the Australian team, I congratulate you again on your achievement and hope that you enjoy your time at the World Final. The friendships formed at these quizzes can last a lifetime. Many of the contestants are still in touch with one another today because the Quiz brings like-minded people together and the passion for reading transcends all boundaries.

I cannot wait to meet you all again soon in Durban.

The view out over the audience from where the teams sat in the World Finals in Auckland in 2012

Best wishes everyone and happy reading,

Wayne Mills MNZM
International Quizmaster
University of Auckland


  1. Congratulations to James, James Leo, Nick and Mrs Hudson Best of luck at the world finals. Thanks to Wayne Mills for organising the KLQ it is a great event. AD

  2. Congratulations to our Australian boys and good luck in Durban, I will be there to cheer you on! Thanks to Wayne Mills for your support for this blog and for including Australia as part of the Kids' Lit Quiz family. We look forward to including lots more Aussie kids in the Sport of Reading in future years!

  3. Though my Kids' Lit Quiz team lost it still was amazing and the team is already looking forward to next year!
    Gemma, Canberra