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The Kids Lit Quiz was founded in New Zealand by Wayne Mills and has since spread internationally to Australia, Canada the US, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa. And the UK of course. The idea is to provide a chance for readers to compete and be rewarded in the same way as athletes.

Since the heats started in Scotland we’ve participated all but once. Our best performance was 4th, although there was a moment a couple of years ago when we were leading at half-time. Petrifying but very exciting.

Here’s some thoughts about getting a team together:

  • Persuasion. The majority of pupils won’t believe that they know enough to take part in a quiz about books, so they’ve got to be persuaded to take part. The first round takes place in one of the regular fortnightly Library visits. The questions are pretty simple, covering stories in all formats to give the pupils the best chance of answering and they work in teams so give a competitive edge. It’s fun, but even so, it’s sometimes sad how many young people don’t know nursery rhymes or fairy tales. On the other hand, we’re quick to point out that they do actually know lots of stories from cartoons and films and even adverts. Turning the focus from books to stories makes a huge difference too.
  • Volunteering. At this point we ask for volunteers to come along to take part in an individual quiz at lunchtime. More pupils will be interested by now, but separating yourself from the crowd is difficult for some, more forget, and some won’t come along if it means walking away from their friends for half an hour. So we run the individual heats over a week, putting questions onto a rolling powerpoint so people can drop in at any time. Daily reminders help too.
  • Competitiveness. My daughter is story-mad. We’ve always tested ourselves on the KLQ sample questions, and she’s always scored highly. It’s a shame that her school doesn’t take part, but even if it did, she wouldn’t participate. She just isn’t competitive. In fact, she dislikes competitions. And she’s not the only one. So there’s got to be equal focus on the competition and the fun.
  • Terminology. Pupils wandered into the LRC one lunchtime during the heats and asked what was going on. We explained it was a quiz and did they want to take part? And they did take part and they did really well, so I asked them if they had missed the assembly announcements about the Kids Lit Quiz.

    The Kids Lit Quiz, Miss? Nah, we don’t read Literature.

    THAT was a a real eye-opener. I’ve been careful about promotion ever since.

  • Lateral thinking. Figuring out the answers is just as important as knowing them, so decent guesses can be just as important as the right answers.
  • Supporter pupils. The KLQ allows teams to bring supporters. With two teams, that’s twelve pupils, making a great group to work with. The teams are eventually picked out a hat. This year, though, there was a little upset, as one of the pupils didn’t want to be in the team without her friend. Despite my best persuasions, I couldn’t change her mind, so she pulled another name out. In fact she pulled her friend’s name out, but her friend had no intention of losing her place.
  • Supporter staff. Get other members of staff involved. The PT English was able to come along this year for the first time and she had a blast – she even won a prize! It was a major topic of conversation on the way home.
  • Timing. The quiz takes place in November and it’s all too easy to forget about it in the usual chaos of the start of term, but getting everything underway earlier makes more time for the selection process. Finding out about different genres, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, films, making up questions etc makes for a great lunchtime activity too, so there’s every reason to launch everything early as possible.
  • Finally. This is all about fun and encouraging reading. As often as possible, any time a book is mentioned, there’s a a copy to hand. If there’s a film version, it’s mentioned. If it’s a nursery rhyme, my singing is inflicted on the class 🙂 And we always buy a book for the participating teams, so they can get it signed by the authors that come along. And despite all that, some kids will never want to take part and that’s their perogative.

Our two teams were brilliant this year. We weren’t anywhere near the top but they worked together, they answered everything as best they could, and they weren’t despondent that they didn’t win. That’s success as far as I’m concerned.

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