Saturday, November 15, 2014

Literacy: A passion, a skill set and an asset for life

A huge thank you to Jo Burnell and Kids' Book Review for showcasing Reading for Australia in Kids' Book Review's November newsletter and on the main website. You can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking on this link - it's FREE! - and read the whole article here.

Linda with Sunny, the SPCA rescued dog, enjoying the Canberra spring weather, the roses and some good books

Please contact Nicole Deans at about the 2015 Australian Quiz and Linda De Silva at to learn more about Reading for Australia.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Kids' Lit Quiz Australia: 2015 Competition

In case you missed our earlier announcement, the 2015 Australian regional heats will be held between 5  and 13 March next year. The 2015 Australian national team will be decided at the National Final on 14 March at Monkey Baa Theatre Company's Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre in Sydney.

The Australian national team in Cornwall for the 2014 world final


The 2015 World Final will be hosted by Kids' Lit Quiz, USA in Connecticut in July next year.


2015 Dates, Times and Venues


Ipswich heat, Thursday 5 March at Ipswich Girls Grammar School from 9.30am to 12.30pm.
Brisbane heat, Friday 6 March at Bulimba State School from 9.30am to 12.30pm.


Orange heat, Tuesday 10 March at Kinross Wolaroi School from 10am to 1pm.
Sydney heat, Friday 13 March at Cerdon College Merrylands from 10am to 1pm.


Canberra heat, Wednesday 11 March at Canberra Grammar School from 10am to 1pm.


Saturday 14 March at the Monkey Baa Theatre Company's Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre, Darling Harbour, Sydney from 1pm to 3pm.
Registration is now open and interested schools can contact Australian National Coordinator, Nicole Deans at with enquiries. There's also more information on this site at 2015 Australian Quiz and FAQ: Kids' Lit Quiz Australia. Also see this letter to teachers, librarians and teacher-librarians from Nicole Deans and the quizmaster and founder of Kids' Lit Quiz International, Wayne Mills  explaining how the Kids' Lit Quiz can build literacy in schools in a fun and exciting way.

After the jump there's some helpful information about the Quiz from Nicole Deans as well as links to reports on the 2014 regional heats and Australian final.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review - City of Lost Souls

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (Walker Books, 2013)

Nick, 12, Canberra

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Letter from Nicole and Wayne

Spring has sprung and lots has happened since I last posted.

I'll be posting some of the book news I've noted over the last month or so soon.  But first, there's some exciting news on the Kids' Lit Quiz Australia front!

The 2015 competition has been announced! In the week of 5 March, there'll be 5 heats (in Ipswich, Brisbane, Orange, Canberra  and Sydney) before the Australian final is held on Saturday 14 March at the Monkey Baa Theatre, Darling Harbour in Sydney.  There's more information at 2015 Australian Quiz and FAQ: Kids' Lit Quiz Australia.

After the jump, there's a letter from the Australian coordinator, Nicole Deans and the quizmaster and founder of Kids' Lit Quiz International, Wayne Mills to teachers, librarians and teacher-librarians explaining how the Kids' Lit Quiz competition can build literacy in schools in a fun and exciting way.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Expo Australia

If you're in or around Sydney next weekend, check out Book Expo Australia at the Sydney Showground, Olympic Park in Sydney during the weekend of 30-31 August 2014.

The organisers say, "Book Expo Australia is the nation’s largest dedicated event for authors and publishers and is the first event of its type in 20 years. We expect 10,000 visitors over the weekend, ranging from journalists, bookshop owners, book reviewers/bloggers, booktubers, teachers, librarians and families."

The event is designed to promote Australian publishers and authors and supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. There's more information on Book Expo Australia's Facebook page. 

Check it out, book lovers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Get caught reading!

In the lead up to Indigenous Literacy Day on 3 September, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is encouraging all of Australia to get caught reading, a fun part of its mission to raise funds to help literacy across Australia.

You're never too young to enjoy books! Photo from the ILF's Facebook page.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Book Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Johnathan Cape, 2003)

by Justin, 11, Johannesburg

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cornwall 2014: Kids' Lit Quiz World Final

It's been a while...

When I wrote my last post over a month ago (on Friday the 13th - in hindsight, an obviously inauspicious date), I did intend to report on the Kids' Lit Quiz world final on 8 July. However, extensive travel over the last month, with often dodgy internet connections and long summery days filled with other happenings, quickly put paid to my good intentions.

I hope that no one has been anxiously waiting for Kids' Lit Quiz news over this last month. But if you have, then wait no longer! Here, at last, is my report on the 2014 World Final in Falmouth, Cornwall earlier this month.

The 2014 World Champion team from the City of London School for Girls

Friday, June 13, 2014

Festival Wrap - May 2014

We now have our New Zealand national team - Congratulations to Awakeri School, a school with a strong Kids' Lit Quiz pedigree, with its 2012 team winning the world final in that year.

The 2014 New Zealand national team

It is not long until the 2014 World Final in Cornwall. Congratulations to all of the national teams:

Australia: Canberra Grammar School
Canada: Royal St George's College, Toronto
New Zealand: Awakeri School
South Africa - St John's Preparatory School, Johannesburg
Singapore - Clementi Primary School
UK - City of London School for Girls
USA  - Sedgwick Middle School, Connecticut

We are confident that you will all be wonderful ambassadors for your schools and countries in 2014. Good luck to you all (but a little extra luck to the Australian team - with love from your families and friends!)

And with that news, it is time to thank everyone for taking part, helping out and, most of all, reading with us over the last few weeks.

We'll take a break for a couple of weeks before the 2014 World Final. I'll still be checking my emails so feel free to write in with comments, book reviews, donations (!!) and other book-related items of interest. The address is:

After the jump, there's also some information about our fundraiser which not only helps the Australian team get to the world final but also raises funds for some of Australia's most disadvantaged children.

While we think it is important to celebrate our top readers, we - and the top readers themselves - also want to use this opportunity to focus attention on one of Australia's more critical literacy needs - those children who do not have access to literacy resources that many of us take for granted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review - The Boundless

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Canada, 2014)

by R.J., Toronto

Friday, June 06, 2014

How to find posts that interest you

The last guest author's post was published on Monday to complete this online literary festival -  42 posts altogether and a baker's dozen of brilliant guest authors. That's a lot of good writing - which mention, discuss and feature lots of books, also raising lots of interesting ideas for us to think about and consider. 

To make it easier to find posts you find interesting, I've listed all the featured guest posts here with brief descriptions of the topics covered:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Cornwall 2014

There's an exciting program in store for the national teams participating in the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz world final in Cornwall, England in July.

Not only do they get to "talk books " with each other over the week of the world final but there's also the stunning coastline, the lush landscape and the rich history of Cornwall to absorb in this short time. It's a hard job but someone's got to do it - I expect that, as their country's top readers, they'll be up to the task. Good luck teams!

Pendennis Castle (photo credit)

From Pendennis Castle, the Tudor fortress built by Henry VIII to help protect England from his many European enemies, to the gardens of Glendurgan, with its intriguing maze, the teams will have a wonderful opportunity to explore treasured Cornish landmarks as part of their world final experience.

The 175 year old cherry laurel maze at Glendurgan

You'll find some more of the highlights of the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz world final program after the jump:

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tena Koutou Katoa! New Zealand Update

Greetings from Aotearoa, New Zealand, the original home of the Kids’ Lit Quiz.

Particular greetings from Hamilton, the city where the very first quiz was held 23 years ago. It was a small affair, with the questions written by the Waikato Children’s Literature Association, of which Wayne Mills was a member.

Never, in our wildest dreams, did any of our members envisage the Quiz would become the global phenomenon that it is today and, in New Zealand, the Kids’ Lit Quiz is now such an integral part of the “reading calendar” it is hard to imagine life without it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Looking for a Book to Read?

Writers are almost always readers first, so we ask our guest authors to tell us the titles of books they enjoyed as children as well as any books they've read recently which they'd recommend to other readers.

Previously, we've complied these into lists - here are last year's recommendations from May and November. This time, we thought it might be interesting to show you what the authors actually said about their book recommendations. Once again, Enid Blyton featured strongly. A prolific author, she clearly influenced generations of kids - some of whom grew up to also write children's books.

New York Public Library

Have a look at what last month's guest authors have to say about the books that influenced them and books they recommend as good reads.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Conversations about Australian Identity by Anita Heiss

This is an edited version of Anita’s speech at the recent Australian Booksellers Association conference dinner in Melbourne. The original speech, on the topic Anita was given – It all starts with a conversation – can be read on Anita’s blog, here.

I’m from the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. My mob’s from Cowra, Brungle mission, Griffith, Tumut and Canberra. I was born in Gadigal country, most of you will know that as the city of Sydney, and I’ve grown up on the land of the Dharawal people near La Perouse.

My home suburb is strategically placed between Long Bay Jail, Malabar Sewerage Works and Orica Industrial estate. It’s the perfect setting for creative inspiration and I’ve written many of my books there. I’m pleased to be here in the home of the Kulin nation and pay my respects to those whose stories have been embedded in this landscape for tens of thousands of years.

It’s every author’s dream to be able to address the ABA dinner because we know that without you booksellers, the books we have devoted our hearts, minds, sleeping and waking hours to, go nowhere.

I have been connected to booksellers around Australia for almost two decades as a writer but also as a reader, and I have learned much about the industry from those who have generously and quite simply just talked to me. So I am grateful for the opportunity to be here to talk about how conversations have played a role in the development, not only of my books, but also my life as a writer and my role as an Indigenous Literacy Day and Books in Homes Ambassador.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Five

This week saw the last of our guest authors' posts in this month-long reading adventure - how quickly it's gone and how lucky for us to be able to share these wonderful authors' work with you. Have a look at what's happened on Reading for Australia this week, after the jump.

Book Review - After

After by Morris Gleitzman (Penguin Books Australia, 2012)

Penguin Books

Leo, 12, Canberra

Book Review - Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Cowell, 1977)

HarperCollins Australia

by Nicholas, 12, Durban

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review - The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the DeepWoods

The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the DeepWood by Paul Steward and Chris Riddell (Doubleday, 1998)

Random House Australia

 by Nicholas 12, Durban

Team Singapore 2014: Clementi Primary School

Team Singapore: L - R: Isabel, E Hsuen, Xiu Yang and Sherman with reserves, Emily and Phil

Introducing the team from Clementi Primary School in Singapore:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I Got Started as a Writer by Andy Griffiths

I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was five years old.

It was in the form of a get well card for my dad. It was a piece of paper folded into three and was called ‘A Little Boooke I Madee’.

It said, ‘I hear your sick. So turn over the pages and see what you are if you don’t get better.’ Then, when my poor, sick father turned the pages, he was greeted with this disturbing picture of himself as some sort of beast lying on the ground next to a tombstone which says ‘Doomed’. (I’m not sure why I chose to draw him like this—maybe we had recently buried a dead pet in the backyard and I was worried we would have to do the same to him if he didn’t get better!)

So, basically, what I was telling him was ‘Get better soon … or you are DOOMED!’ It may have been quite an unconventional approach for a get well card, but it was effective because he got better really fast. I wasn’t about to let it rest at that, however.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are you a true Dr. Frankenstein? by Josie Montano

I don’t mean to scare you!

But I use Dr. Frankenstein’s methods when it comes to creating a character. As you know, the eccentric scientist gave life to his ‘creation’ Frankenstein by putting together bits and pieces of other bodies, gruesome, I know, but a fascinating idea for a writer.

Keep in mind also that Dr. Frankenstein is a creation of another writer’s mind, Mary Shelley, so not only did she create a character, her character created a character. Phew - she was clever!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Canoes by Bruce Pascoe

When I think about it, I realise my last three books, Bloke, Fog, a Dox and Dark Emu, have been in honour of Muns Hammond. He’s the hero behind all of them.

Magabala Books, 2014

Dark Emu is about the things our education fails to tell us. That Aboriginal people built houses, sewed clothes, sowed crops, tilled the land, irrigated young plants …and made canoes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, 2011)


by Indigo, 11, Adelaide

Book Review - Crummy Mummy and Me

Crummy Mummy and Me by Anne Fine (Puffin Books, 1988)

Puffin Books

by Nicholas, 12, Durban

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, 2011)


by Cameron, 13, Hong Kong

Friday Recap - Week Four

Some more great writing by our guest authors on Reading for Australia this week - check them out after the jump.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Makes a Book Series Seriously Good? by Jess Black

Do you have a favourite book series?

Allen & Unwin

I do! I have many. In fact, there’s nothing I like more than being hooked on a good series and really wanting to get the next book to find out what happens next! I can become very attached to characters in series, they become like old friends. It’s the same for me when reading or writing a series.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Small moments in big pictures by Dianne Wolfer

I love stories about small moments that are also part of bigger historical pictures.

Lighthouse Girl is based on the true story of Fay Catherine Howe. She was the daughter of an Albany lighthouse keeper and lived on Breaksea Island in 1914. World War One was declared on Fay’s birthday and so that seemed a good place to begin the book…

Monday, May 19, 2014

Living the Dream by Barry Jonsberg

Do you want to know how I became a writer?

Okay. I thought you probably didn’t, but there’s no need to be rude about it. And you’ve started reading now, so you might as well finish.

I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper. How cool to walk into a bookshop and see a book with my name on it! Pick it up, ruffle the pages… (just for the record, I would like to apologise to all those authors whose names I crossed out in random bookstores and replaced with my name in texta. I confess. Romeo and Juliet was actually written by William Shakespeare and not Barry Jonsberg. Sorry, Will.)

The trouble was, I found I had suddenly become old and my dream hadn’t happened. Why? I asked myself. And then, one day the reason burst through my confused thoughts, like a sun’s rays through dark clouds.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Three

Week Three and our third online literary festival is in full swing - lots of good writing and interesting view points in this week's guest authors' posts for you to check out after the jump.

Book Review - Moonrunner

Moonrunner by Mark Thomason (Scholastic Press, 2008)

Scholastic Australia

by George, 9, Canberra

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why So Sad? by Sally Murphy

I have a confession.

I love to make people cry! The good news is, I also like to make them laugh. And if they can laugh and cry at the same time that’s pretty good, too.

You see, as an author of books for children, I believe it’s my job to share stories which make readers feel. It’s when we care what happens to a character that we keep turning pages. If a story makes us laugh, or cry, or sigh, or even tremble with fear, then we are connecting with that story, and that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Food! Glorious Food! by Goldie Alexander

Recently, I came across an article dividing authors into two camps; those that include descriptions of food and those that don’t. Children’s authors tend to fall into the first camp, often using food as a way of illustrating character, plot and setting in their stories.

Lewis Carrol knew this. If the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea-party’ in Alice in Wonderland was a sly dig at the middle-class, he also knew that some foods make us feel safe, as when Alice helped herself to some tea and bread and butter. Others do not, as Alice shrinks and grows, depending on which side of the mushroom she eats.

Poverty can mean hunger. Tom, the chimney sweep in The Water Babies, cried... when he had not enough to eat, which happened every day in the week... But when he leaves his discarded body behind, he eats water- cresses, perhaps; or perhaps water-gruel and water milk.

Enid Blyton used food in her Famous Five series to show happiness: 
The picnic was lovely. They had it on the top of a hill, in a sloping field that looked down into a sunny valley...The children ate enormously, and Mother said that instead of having a tea-picnic at half-past four they would have to go to a tea-house somewhere, because they had eaten all the tea sandwiches as well as the lunch ones!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why I love writing history by Pamela Rushby

I write a lot of things. But historical fiction ("faction") is absolutely, absolutely my favourite.

Why? I call it the WOW! factor. That moment when I come across an incredible historical incident or event that makes me go WOW! can that really be true?

Usually, it is true. Because the best, the strangest, the most riveting, heart-breaking, laugh-out-loud stories aren't fiction. They're real. They come from history.

I'm constantly amazed, overwhelmed, when I come across one of these couldn't-possibly-be-true-but-they-actually-are stories. Stories that make me immediately desperate to put my own characters in the middle of the action and explore what could happen IF …

Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Two

Week Two and lots of interesting things to discover and think about in our first guest authors' posts and loads of new (and old) books to discover too.

Have a look after the jump to see what happened here this week:

Book Review - The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Puffin, 2010)

Puffin Books Australia

Arun, 8, Adelaide

Book Review - Weirdest Stories

Weirdest Stories by Paul Jennings (Penguin Books, 2006)

Penguin Books

Archie, 9, Canberra

Book Review: The Girl from Snowy River

The Girl From Snowy River by Jackie French (Harper Collins, 2012)

HarperCollins Australia

Evie, 9, Canberra

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Team Australia 2014: Canberra Grammar School

Introducing the 2014 Australian team from Canberra Grammar School:  

Jesse, Leo, Angus, Nick and Mrs Hudson with Wayne Mills at the 2014 ACT regional heat

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Research? But I write fiction! by Sherryl Clark

When I first starting writing chapter books and novels, I used a lot of stuff from my own life, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I would have to do some research for many of the things I wanted to include.

Of course, when I began my pirate novel, Pirate X, I assumed I’d just need to know about pirates and a bit about the 1700s, but soon my piles of books and folders of photocopied information grew and grew.

What are some of the particulars I had to track down?

We all know about pirates and gold doubloons! But those mostly came via Spanish ships sailing back from Central and South America. People who lived in 1717 used a variety of money. The American colonies had no currency of their own, and used everyone else’s. So a handful of money might include English shillings and pence, Dutch coins, Spanish gold and silver and French coins. A shopkeeper had to be very careful about their values. The easiest way was to weigh the coins on small scales.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Reading Up – Why It’s Important to Stretch Yourself by Tania McCartney

There’s something fabulous about stretching yourself as a reader. Not only in terms of entering new and exciting worlds well beyond your years (just wait till you’re reading some of the world’s great adult works!) but also in terms of stretching your comprehension and vocabulary.

When my daughter was eight, I gave her my vintage copy (I won’t tell you how old it was!) of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. You may know it, and if you do, you’ll know it’s particularly magical. My daughter loved the book. She absorbed it quickly, and didn’t once ask me what any of the ‘weird, old-fashioned’ words meant.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Surfing Strange Tsunamis by Jackie French

"Stories tell us who we are. They teach us empathy so we understand who others are. They give us the power to imagine and create the future."

Jackie French's theme for her term as the 2014 Australian Children's Laureate is 'Share a Story'. Thank you, Jackie, for sharing this travel story with us at Reading for Australia

Last night, I time-travelled to Ancient Greece, almost two and a half thousand years ago. I ate dinner (tough mutton and very sweet figs) while Socrates talked and young Plato scribbled the notes that one day he’d turn into his book – that millennia later I'd read.

Books take you on many journeys.

I’ve been to school in a volcano (School For Heroes), surfed a tsunami (Elephant Alert), milked a goat on the ship that brought Captain Cook to Australia (The Goat Who Sailed the World). I’ve watched the battle of Waterloo (Nanberry: Black Brother White) and wept at the large and small  tragedies of World War I (A Rose for the Anzac Boys).

click to enlarge

Friday, May 02, 2014

Friday Recap - Week One

Welcome to Reading for Australia's third online literary festival!


As we did last year, each week's activities are summarised every Friday to make sure that you don't miss anything. With only Wayne's welcome post yesterday and two fabulous kids' book reviews today, there's not much to summarise at this stage although I do recommend that you read those posts if you haven't already. On the other hand, when I think back over the past year, well, there's actually quite a lot to recap.

April 30 was the first anniversary of Reading for Australia (we had intended to go live on 1 May but couldn't figure out how to take down the test run of Wayne's first welcome post... it's been a steep learning curve).  You can read how we set up the site in the very first Friday Recap.

Here are some of the highlights of our first year online: