Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kids Lit Quiz Australia: 2015 in review

This has been an exciting year for the Kids' Lit Quiz around the world and the 2015 Australian Quiz was no exception, bringing the "sport of reading" to even more Australian schools.  

For all our friends in the international Kids' Lit Quiz community and everyone at Reading for Australia, here's National Coordinator, Nicole Deans' review of this year's competition, a true celebration of good books and great readers.  

Thanks also to Queensland coordinator, Jenny Stubbs, for her photos and comments and to Wayne Mills, quizmaster and founder of the Kids' Lit Quiz (in New Zealand, 24 years ago) for his additional comments and observations. These have been added to Nicole's report, together with links to other related posts and resources.

The 2015 Australian team with Nicole Deans, Wayne Mills and their coach

Congratulations to the team from Orange High School, the 2015 national champions. Our first all-girl national team will now represent Australia at the world final in New Britain, Connecticut, USA in July.

With its purpose of encouraging and celebrating literacy in children aged 10 to 13 years, Kids' Lit Quiz Australia is delighted with its growth in 2015. It has been enormously satisfying to see so many children enjoy the benefits of reading while discovering an international community of like-minded readers.

From humble beginnings in 2012, with the one heat/final in Orange involving 13 teams and a handful of schools, Kids' Lit Quiz Australia has grown to 5 heats, 96 teams, 56 schools and 384 keen readers in 2015. As Wayne Mills says, "We were all delighted with the 39% increase in teams participating across the Australian competition of the Kids' Lit Quiz."

The enthusiasm shown by both the teams and their teachers/coaches shows the value the Kids' Lit Quiz adds to literacy programs in schools. With its focus on reading widely for pleasure by giving kids an open choice of reading matter and the opportunity for teamwork, the Kids' Lit Quiz offers a unique and fun way for schools to build literacy in their communities.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors, donors, supporters, hosts, authors and school communities without whom none of this would have been possible. We hope the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia was an enjoyable experience for you too and that you all come back next year for more literary fun and games.


We began in Queensland with the Ipswich heat, held at Ipswich Girls Grammar School for the third year. Eighteen teams took part and, although that appears to be less than last year, a second Queensland heat (at Bulimba State School in Brisbane) also had 18 teams, meaning that the overall number of teams in Queensland has grown. Wayne, who has conducted the Ipswich heat since it was first held in 2013, observed, "The separation into two heats was a practical and successful decision because the split enabled more teams to participate."

Ambrose Treacy College, winner of the Ipswich heat at the National Final

Anglican Church Grammar, winner of the Brisbane Heat, at the National Final

Both heats were extremely successful and the standard was high. Schools enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate their readers and participating teams appreciated the wide appeal of the quiz questions which are not limited by specific book choices but, rather, facilitate reading for pleasure.

Many thanks to Queensland coordinator, Jenny Stubbs, for managing the Queensland heats. Jenny adds,  
"At each heat we had a team of authors competing for fun and a bookseller selling their books. This is always an added attraction for the teams and the authors always have a good time. They even suggested we should have two teams competing against each other to make it more competitive.

Both author teams scored well, with the Ipswich team achieving a score of 91 points [out of a possible 100]. Authors at Ipswich were Angela Sunde, Chris Bongers, Richard Newsome and Samantha Wheeler and, at Bulimba, we had Alison and Nicholas Lochel, Sheryl Gwyther and Michael Gerard Bauer. "
(You can link through to these authors' websites from here - scroll to the end of the post.)

Ambrose Treacy College, from a Brisbane western suburb, won the Ipswich heat while first time entrants, Anglican Church Grammar, won in Brisbane. Both teams traveled to Sydney for the National Final to represent Queensland.

The Queensland teams at the National Final



The Orange heat had 23 teams which is the biggest heat in the four years the Kids' Lit Quiz has been running in Australia.

It was wonderful to welcome back schools that have been part of the Quiz since we started in 2012 and see the wide reading interests that have been supported and developed in those schools over the years. It was also wonderful to introduce new schools to  the Kids' Lit Quiz and see their keen readers' first experience of the fun and excitement of the "sport of reading".

As Wayne says, "Those of us involved with the Quiz measure its success by the number of kids whose love of reading is enhanced and extended by their participation."

Orange High School won the heat. Although it was the first time this school has taken part in the Quiz, the students had been through the local primary school which had great success previously in the Quiz, with their 2014 team placing third at last year's National Final. These students encouraged their high school to take part. The local primary school, Orange Public School came a close second and was also invited to the final, proving that younger teams can also achieve great results.

The steady growth of the Orange heat is encouraging, especially as it is a regional area. Wayne noted that, "The literacy strength of the Orange heat was demonstrated by the fact that the two Orange teams took out the top places at the National Final, showing how the Kids' Lit Quiz helps builds literacy within school communities."


The greatest growth in 2015 was the ACT Heat, which doubled from 2014 with 16 teams taking part this year.

The later date for the heat certainly seemed to contribute to the number of teams who were able to take part. The buzz created by the large number of teams was exciting as was the close finish in the heat, with only two points between first and third place.

ACT Heat winners: Canberra Grammar School at the National Final

Canberra Grammar School scraped into the final for the fourth consecutive year, having been national champions for the last three years, with their 2014 team finishing second at last year's World Final. An amazing accomplishment!

There's a report on the 2015 ACT heat here, with lots of photographs by William Hall.


Our final heat was held at Merrylands in western Sydney, at Cerdon College, for the first time. It was an excellent venue and very central for the visiting teams.

Wayne says, "The presence of Oliver Phommavahn, author of Thai-riffic excited the kids and gave everyone a chance to interact with him." 

With 21 teams, this was our second largest heat in 2015.  Many teams were taking part for the first time, including two teams who traveled all the way from Port Stevens, and the excitement was infectious.  It proved to be a close heat, with new participant, Kambala School's two teams taking first and second places. Kamabala's B team finished just ahead of its A team and both qualified for the National Final.

Sydney Heat winners: Kambala School

2015 Australian Final

The National Final was dynamic with seven excellent teams from three states and a wonderful venue at the Monkey Baa Theatre Company's home at Darling Harbour. The theatre manager, Renee, couldn't have been more helpful and its location to popular eating places meant that teams could arrive early and relax. This was especially good for the two Queensland teams who flew to Sydney on the Saturday morning to compete and then flew home in the afternoon.

The challenging questions and the use of the buzzers added to both the tension and excitement of the competition.  Popular children's author, Deborah Abela, acted as adjudicator for the final and Wayne delivered his complex and interesting questions that required the teams to really listen to the questions and time their responses; too early and they might lose a point, too late and another team might jump in and give the correct answer first. (This report on the 2014 national final details the way the Kids' Lit Quiz competition works.)

Jenny adds, "The change from written answers at the heats to using a buzzer system for the finals was a little daunting for some teams who had not experienced it before. Some members of the other teams had taken part in the national final last year and were more familiar with the system. I could hear the audience around me expressing amazement at the speed and accuracy of the competing teams."

Third Place: Kambala School

Second Place: Orange Public School

First Place: Orange High School

Looking Ahead

Overall, 2015 has been an exciting and successful year with consolidation as well as growth; most of the 2014 schools returned and lots of new teams joined the competition.

This year, the Australian Quiz ran from 5 to 14 March, having previously been held in early February. The later dates meant that we had more time to organise and also allowed schools time to settle into the new academic year. It worked well and we expect that moving the Australian competition to March will suit even more schools in 2016.

Next year will be a year of consolidation with the same number of heats while we grow the competition by increasing the number of teams at each heat. We're aiming to have over 100 teams participating in the 2016 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia.

Wayne was also extremely pleased with the way the Kids' Lit Quiz is developing in Australia, in step with its expansion in other countries. Wayne notes: 
  • Good readers are GOOD readers anywhere in the world but often children do not know that they are part of an international network of readers around the world. Most are delighted when they find this community;
  • This year over 1000 schools throughout the world have participated in the Kids' Lit Quiz (with more to come in New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong). Last week, 63 teams competed in a single heat in Christchurch; 
  • As always, children enjoyed putting authors faces to books at this year's Kids' Lit Quiz Australia. This was especially evident at the Sydney heat.  Thank you to all the authors who participated at this year's competition, we hope you enjoyed the experience too;
  • Good readers read incredibly widely but sometimes books are slow to work their way into the main stream. This year, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has been popular throughout the world although it was published in 2011. What really speeds up a book's dissemination is, of course, the cinematic medium.  Tim Burton's film is due for release in March 2016;
  • It is inspiring and gratifying to see the pleasure and amazement of parents and teachers at their children's book knowledge at the Quiz. As one father observed, "How did my son know that? I didn't even know it myself".
Our vision for Kids' Lit Quiz Australia is to continue to grow 'the sport of reading', taking it to more students, schools and communities in Australia and giving all participants the opportunity to to be part of our international reading family.

We look forward to 2016.

Nicole Deans (with thanks to Jenny Stubbs and Wayne Mills)

Nicole Deans is the National Coordinator (Australia) of the Kids' Lit Quiz. 

Kids' Lit Quiz Australia is a not-for-profit association incorporated in NSW (ABN 91 353 357 549). 

We're looking for sponsors! Kids' Lit Quiz Australia's only income is the registration fee paid by each competing team. There are no paid employees of the Kids' Lit Quiz - from founder and quiz master, Wayne Mills, to the national coordinators, the state coordinators, adjudicators and committee members, everyone's a volunteer, doing what they do because they believe literacy needs to be both encouraged and celebrated.

Anyone who is interested in sponsoring or supporting the 2016 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia competition should contact Nicole Deans, at

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