Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2015 in review by Wayne Mills

In July, following the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz world final in Connecticut, I asked Wayne Mills how he felt the year, and particularly, the World Final had gone. Here's Wayne's response which I've (finally!) edited to add links, photos and other information to complement Wayne's overview of the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz World Final.

Quizmaster Wayne Mills at the International Dinner following the Kids' Lit Quiz world final, 8 July 2015.

Hi Linda,

Sorry, I've been hiding away, holidaying in Pong Dang in the north of Thailand so I've been very quiet with my correspondence. It's been very hot but each afternoon is quenched or drenched with  spectacular electrical storms which leave plenty of time for reading (of course!) but also for contemplating the year just passed and for planning next year's program.

The World Final

It is not so long ago that the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz competition concluded with the World Final in the Welte Auditorium at the Central Connecticut State University in the USA. New Zealand won the final by a clear nine points but the next six places could have gone to any team as only six points separated the rest of the field.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Carlson, Hartford Courant, 9 July 2015
The final scores were:

NZ - 37
SA - 28
US - 27
Sng - 25
Can - 24
Aus - 23
UK - 22

Well done all! Congratulations to Southwell School, the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz champions, and to all the national teams, whose performances were a credit to their families, schools and countries. You can find out more about the 2015 national teams in this post and this terrific newspaper article (which includes the above photo that captures some of the fun and excitement of a world final.)

I am indebted to Dr Catherine Kurkjian and her committee for hosting us in Connecticut and bringing to a culmination a marvellous year of reading and literary friendships. The Committee did a brilliant job with the accommodation, catering and the week-long programme of events.

Wayne Mills and Brian Selznick at the museum in New York City
For me, the highlight (apart from the World Final itself, of course) was the visit to the American Museum of Natural History where a meeting with author Brian Selznick had been arranged. Nancy Davidson, our Canadian national coordinator, has said that the visit to Mark Twain's house was her favourite part of a week filled with interesting activities and events which also gave the international coordinators from the USA, Australia, NZ, Singapore, and Canada the opportunity to discuss ideas and to swap reading incentives.

The complete World Final program can be found here and there are lots more photos on the Kids' Lit Quiz Facebook pages and on some of the teams' Facebook pages too.

Reading is Power! Wayne and Pa at the International Dinner

The International Dinner, hosted by Kevin O'Malley and Rosemary Wells, followed the World Final. It was, quite literally, a super event and a terrific way to end a very successful year of the Kids' Lit Quiz.  The 'Super Heroes' theme highlighted the heroic literary performances of all the teams at the world final and the hall was decorated in the style of comic book superheroes.

As always, one of the highlights of the International Dinner was hearing students, one from each of the national teams, talk about their all-time, most loved books. The selected books were, as follows:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Awesome MRT Diaries by Adeline Foo
Maximum Ride by James Patterson
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Escape From Mr Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

It was inspiring to listen to these talented young readers from all around the world share their passion for literature and introduce one another to the world-wide library of books; a reminder that the Kids' Lit Quiz not only encourages students to read, so increasing each individual's vocabulary and content knowledge, but also successfully connects whole communities of readers throughout the world through the international network we've built since 1991.

Looking Ahead to 2016 

Perhaps it is the electricity in the air from the stormy weather but I am feeling energerised and looking forward to the 2016 Kids' Lit Quiz program. This will, as usual, start in the United Kingdom in November 2015 and culminate in Auckland, New Zealand in July 2016 with the World Final.

The 2016 Kids' Lit Quiz World Final will coincide with the biennial IBBY Congress (see the note below, "More on IBBY", for more information.)  It will be one of the highlights of the Congress, to be held in the evening on Friday 19 August, in front of international participants attending the four day congress and showcasing the best young readers in the world.

In 2015, the number of Kids' Lit Quiz regional heats across the world expanded and more growth is expected in 2016. We are now working on the timetables for the 2016 national programs and, as each is finalised, it will be posted on the Kids' Lit Quiz website, Facebook pages and other media.  Schools interested in the 2016 program should contact the relevant national coordinator at first instance (depending on the country, the enquiry may be answered by a regional coordinator.) The contacts are:

Australia: Nicole Deans
Canada: Nancy Davidson
New Zealand: Wayne Mills
Singapore: Aisyah Nasir, National Library of Singapore
South Africa: Marj Brown
UK: Jacky Atkinson
USA: Cathy Kurkjian

In 2016, the Kids' Lit Quiz competition is expected to further expand to include keen readers in other countries with the likely addition of India, Hong Kong or Ireland. Interest or enquiries in these countries should be directed to me, Wayne Mills - see contact details above - at this time.

The much anticipated Kids' Lit Quiz app, which will allow users to gauge their reading skills by downloading questions that test whether the books have actually been read (I call these "organic questions"), was expected to be launched at the 2015 World Final. This has now been delayed until later this year - watch for details on the website. We're also looking forward to a revamped website later this year.

In conclusion, while the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz program ended positively all round, there's much to look forward to in 2016. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to a wonderful 2015 - I look forward to seeing you again next year.

Happy reading,

Wayne Mills, MNZM Quizmaster

More about IBBY (from the 2016 IBBY Congress website)

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organisation representing an international network of countries and people, mostly volunteers, dedicated to bringing books and children together. It is the only international body working comprehensively for children’s books.

IBBY’s mission is to:

  • promote the value of reading and books to the world’s children
  • promote international understanding through children’s books
  • encourage the publication and distribution of quality children’s books, especially in developing countries
  • stimulate research and scholarly works in the field of children’s literature
  • provide support and training for those involved with children and children’s literature
  • protect and uphold the rights of children according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as a non-governmental organisation with official status in UNESCO and UNICEF.

IBBY International Congresses attract at least 450 delegates from 70+ member countries. (A full list of members can be found at Many of those attending are international leaders, influential in their fields.

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