Friday, November 01, 2013

Welcome by Wayne Mills

Hello Everyone!  Welcome to the second online literary festival at Reading for Australia.

There are more terrific guest authors, more book reviews by kids, more discussions and comments and, of course, many more books to discover during this month-long reading adventure!

The winning team in Singapore from St Hilda's Primary School.  October 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of reading for pleasure. This is something that we at the Kids’ Lit Quiz strive to share with every child who participates in the Quiz and, through Reading for Australia, with all book lovers, wherever you are in the world.  I’ve just returned from the inaugural heat in Singapore where I stressed the benefits of reading to enhance your vocabulary development and to broaden your content knowledge. More about Singapore shortly.

First, to all the guest authors participating in this festival, thank you for sharing your creative talent and your love of literature with our international community of readers.  I hope you find it rewarding in return.

As Trevor Darwin of the Kids’ Lit Quiz in NE England observes, “authors too, once introduced to the Quiz, see its enormous potential as a way of generating and nurturing a love of literature and an appreciation of the power of language to imagine, enquire, educate and entertain.  In the UK, the Quiz is supported by many of the country’s leading children’s authors who are constantly astounded by the breadth and depth of the knowledge displayed by the kids taking part.”

At the 2014 NE England heat in a few days' time, the school teams will have the opportunity of competing against an authors’ team consisting of, David Almond, Anne Fine, Mark Robson and Linda Strachan. Now that will be a challenge!

In 2013, as in previous years, over 50 authors around the world have generously supported the Kids’ Lit Quiz from Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman who gave out the prizes at the UK Final last year, to Beverley Naidoo who recorded a special message to the world finalists, to the many South African authors at the World Final and the many other authors who attended regional heats and finals throughout the world. Gillian Cross will be announcing the winners at the next UK Final on December 6.

In Australia, I’d especially like to thank the following authors: Narelle Oliver, Michael Gerard Bauer, Charlotte Calder, Deborah Abela, Brian Falkner and Chris Bongers who all came along to support the Quiz, forming their own "All Stars" teams to compete against the school teams at the various regional heats around Australia. Thank you also to those authors who kindly participated in the first online literary festival at Reading For Australia in May. You can find their guest posts here.

Wayne in South Africa with proteas, the national flower of South Africa

This year has been a huge success for the Kids' Lit Quiz as we also look forward to the 2014 competition.

Durban hosted a brilliant World Final which was won by the host team from Rodean School in Johannesburg. The competition was so tight that only one question separated the three top teams. Another quiz region opened up in South Africa – Knysna - an extra heat was required in Toronto in Canada while the Australian and American competitions also grew considerably in size.

We warmly welcome Singapore and Hong Kong to the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz competition and to our international community of readers.

The pilot quiz was held in Singapore on 28 October at the Jurong Regional Library, organized by The National Library Board and sponsored by F&N Magnolia.  It was won by a team from St Hilda’s Primary School.  I was really impressed with the knowledge of all the schools and can certainly see that they will grow into a force to be reckoned with. 

The Hong Kong quiz will be held on 11 December at the Shek O Country Club  from 4pm to 7pm.  If you are curious about the Quiz, come along and have a look.  Interested schools should contact Nick Atkinson at for more information.

In between the competitions in Singapore and Hong Kong, I’ll be in the UK where over 475 teams will, once again, be participating in the Kids’ Lit Quiz. Then, in January and February,  I’ll be in the USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia for the domestic competitions in those countries. The New Zealand competition takes place from March to June and, in 2014, there will be an extra region taking part.  Westland has always been a little geographically isolated and will now have its own regional heat - so Westland teams no longer have to travel five hours to the nearest venue.  By the time the NZ heats are over, it will be time for the World Final in Cornwall in July. 

If you are reading this somewhere in Australia, I hope your school will be taking part in the Kids' Lit Quiz this coming February as there simply is nothing like the Quiz for those students who love to read.  The categories are diverse and the best preparation is to read widely. You can’t swot for it as there is no reading list but if you enjoy reading then this competition is for you. It’s easy to enter - just show this site to a teacher or librarian at your school.

In 2014, there'll be four regional heats in Ipswich, Orange, Canberra and western Sydney.  We've come a long way since our first Australian final in 2012 in Orange, NSW, where 13 teams competed, and look forward to even more schools discovering the Sport of Reading in 2014.

I’m very much looking forward to meeting keen readers in Australia and across the world in the next few months – old friends and new – as the Kids’ Lit Quiz brings readers together in an environment where reading for pleasure is encouraged, celebrated and rewarded.

Happy reading!

About the Author 

 Wayne Mills is the founder and quizmaster of the Kids' Lit Quiz.  He is passionate about kids reading for pleasure and works to ensure that readers are challenged to read widely across a range of literature.

Wayne is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland.  He built up his knowledge of kids' books while teaching and continues to develop it in the tertiary system.   In March 2008, he was awarded the New Zealand Margaret Mahy Medal for his substantial and distinguished contribution to literature and literacy and in 2011 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for meritorious service to his country.

Wayne has never known a time without books.  His parents surrounded him with books as a youngster and they've been part of his life ever since. When his kids were teenagers, he never observed readers at prize-givings being rewarded for their reading and it was this that provided the impetus to start a literary competition for 11-13 year olds in 1991. The idea of the Quiz is to acknowledge and motivate readers at a time when reading traditionally dips - when most kids can read but often choose not to do so.

Over the years, Wayne has read thousands of children's books.  Today, he never reads without a pen in his hand.  Some of the books he recommends are listed in the "Good Books Not to be Missed!" lists he provides to students taking his university courses.  These lists are updated each year.  You can find Wayne's 2013 list on the left sidebar under the Kids' Lit Quiz logo. 

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