Thursday, May 01, 2014

Welcome by Wayne Mills

Hello and welcome to the third online literary festival at Reading for Australia.

Once again, we are pleased to bring you terrific guest authors, book reviews by kids around the world, and, of course, lots of books for you to discover during this month-long reading adventure.


Thank you to all the guest authors for sharing your creative talent and your love of literature with our international community.

Wayne with authors Mark Robson, Anne Fine and Linda Strachan at the 2014 NE England heat

You join a worldwide family of readers spanning five continents and 23 years of author involvement in the Kids’ Lit Quiz. From Eva Ibbotson and Philip Pullman to Gillian Cross, Robert Muchamore and Malorie Blackman, hundreds of authors across the world have given their time and support to the Kids’ Lit Quiz, including attendance at world finals in Oxford, Edinburgh, Johannesburg, Durban, Hamilton and Auckland and at numerous regional heats and gala dinners and participation in the 2013 online literary festivals (here and here) at Reading for Australia. I thank you all.

This year, it’s been really gratifying to see how the Kids’ Lit Quiz continues to expand throughout the world; celebrating, extending and challenging more and more young readers in "the sport of reading". Gratifying because, even in these challenging times for the book publishing industry, it is clear that kids are still reading and that good writing is still important.

2014 Kids' Lit Quiz  

I was recently in Singapore for the first national final, having held a pilot Quiz there last October. The final was held in the wonderful National Library and the 20 teams that competed had qualified from sixty-four teams who participated in the heats. Last year, only 14 teams participated in the pilot program. So there's been huge growth and interest in just 6 months.

The inaugural national final in Singapore, April 2014

We warmly welcome Singapore to the international Kids' Lit Quiz community of keen readers in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

I’m really looking forward to the 2014 world final as it is on track to have more boys than girls competing for the first time since the Kids' Lit Quiz started in New Zealand 23 years ago.

This year, we have all-boy teams from South Africa, Canada and Australia, one all-girl team from the UK and two mixed teams from the United States and Singapore. Unfortunately, the team from Hong Kong, is unable to participate at the world final this year but, hopefully, we'll get to meet the top readers from that part of the world next year. The New Zealand finalists will not be decided until 10 June at the national final to be held at the Wellington National Library. The team that wins this national final will have just over three weeks to get ready for the world final.

The reason I mention the number of boys in the 2014 national teams is because there is a commonly-held, long-standing myth that boys of this age (10 to 13 years) don't read, that they're only interested in playing sport. I'm pleased to say that, in my experience, playing sport doesn't preclude boys from reading - particularly when they can, through the Kids' Lit Quiz, also make a sport of reading! Over the years, I've met plenty of sporty boys and girls who also enjoy reading. There are also those kids who aren't particularly interested in sport who are thrilled that Kids' Lit Quiz gives them the opportunity to shine at what they enjoy most - reading.

One gender difference I have noticed over the years is that the majority of kids who are trigger-happy on the buzzers are boys (I've got my theories why.) Apart from that, there's a great diversity of interests and personalities amongst Lit Quiz kids who, despite their differences, come together happily and easily through a mutual love of books.

I congratulate all of the members of the national teams and am confident that, as with the past national teams, you will be wonderful ambassadors for your schools and countries in 2014. Good luck to you all.

A Tip for the World Final 

I’m often asked how I select the books for the World Final so that teams are not disadvantaged by my selection.

I look for books that have benefited from globalisation and the juggernaut power of mass advertising so a title like The Hunger Games is an obvious choice. After this, I look for traditional tales such as myths and legends and creation stories. Within this area, I’d include fables, nursery rhymes and folktales.

A further source to mine are the books which have been made into movies and, halfway into 2014, there have been a dozen or so such books which are likely to have been read by our finalists. I always include a category about authors and titles and sometimes genres and, lastly, there’s a wealth of poetry, reference books, graphic novels and publishers all waiting to be tapped into.

The scope is so broad that the best strategy to prepare for the world final is just to read widely and enjoy your reading. You're always more likely to remember the books and authors you liked.

More thanks 

Finally, my thanks to everyone in the Kids' Lit Quiz community for all of your hard work this year.

Throughout the world, the Kids' Lit Quiz national bodies are not-for-profit associations run entirely by volunteers.

All we have achieved this year, particularly the expansion of the Quiz to Singapore and Hong Kong and the addition of more regional heats in nearly all Quiz countries, could not have been possible without the Kids’ Lit Quiz national coordinators; people who have taken on extraordinary work loads because they saw the potential of the Kids’ Lit Quiz to motivate kids to read and enhance students’ self esteem. Supporting every national coordinator are regional coordinators and committee members and everybody works because they believe in what they’re doing.  They’re all volunteers with day jobs, mostly in the educational sector. They're all people who know and care about literacy. Thank you all.

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 10-13 year old children 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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment