Iconic Kids’ Lit Quiz comes to Tauranga

Wayne Mills. Photo: Supplied.

The Bay of Plenty heat of Kids’ Lit Quiz is coming to Tauranga Intermediate School on Tuesday, May 21.

Kiwi quizmaster extraordinaire Wayne Mills pens thousands of questions for Kids’ Lit Quiz every year and poses them as quizmaster in 11 countries around the globe.

The 2019 national final will be held in Wellington on May 26 and the international final in Singapore on July 12.

Wayne started the event in a Hamilton community hall 30 years ago and it has grown to become the world’s largest literary event for children.

Along with his wife Yupa, the Kids’ Lit Quiz business manager, he travels the world with his distinctive quizmaster hat on – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and the USA - and individually writes the thousands of questions required for the competitions every year.

He reads more than 100 books a year to keep up to date with the latest children’s literature and never reads a book without a pen in his hand.

Kids’ Lit Quiz encourages students aged 10-13 years to read for pleasure, widening their range of books and celebrating their knowledge.

Schools enter a team of four students who read their hearts out and train like athletes to compete in their regional final. The teams are asked questions from all forms of children’s literature, ranging from classics to the contemporary, from nursery rhymes to comics, and from folk tales to myths.

The winning team goes on to compete in the national final, and the national champions compete against 10 other countries in the World Final.

Wayne says the quiz is fiercely competitive and competitors are at the top of their field - kids who were “born to read”.

He calls the quiz the “sport of reading”.

“When my own kids were at school, and through my work (he is a former senior lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education), it was clear to me that there was a lack of recognition for keen readers. It seemed that we rewarded sports players more than we did readers.

“I’m passionate about kids reading for pleasure. The Kids’ Lit Quiz offers children rewards they may not otherwise experience in the classroom setting.”

The Tauranga-based Wright Family Foundation is a major sponsor of the event.

“I believe a love of reading and a vivid imagination opens the door to education and possibilities,” says CEO and Kids’ Lit Quiz patron Chloe Wright.

“I love that Wayne and Kids’ Lit Quiz are fostering a passion for reading.”

While Kids’ Lit Quiz is now held in 11 countries, there are many more clamouring to get on board.

“International interest is higher than we can cope with. Requests have come in from Ethiopia, Japan, Ghana and Ireland to join the competition. There is nothing quite like the Kids Lit Quiz which inspires kids to read widely,” says Wayne.

“Among the noise of digital distractions, the Kids’ Lit Quiz is focused solely on books at a time when reading has never been so important.

“Kids’ still love books. As the pull of social media and other distractions is stronger than ever, readers can get overlooked and the value of reading for pleasure diminished. The Kids’ Lit Quiz gives readers something to aim for and recognises their reading for pleasure.”

In March 2008, Wayne was awarded the New Zealand Margaret Mahy Medal for his substantial and distinguished contribution to literature and literacy, and in 2011 he was made Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for meritorious service to his country.

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