The best readers in Southland pitted their knowledge of books against each other last Thursday.
The regional final of the Kids’ Lit Quiz was held at Longford Intermediate School in Gore.
A team from James Hargest College in Invercargill won the quiz for the second year running, and Blue Mountain College team two was second.
The quiz was started in 1991 by former University of Waikato lecturer Wayne Mills.
Mr Mills said the pupils who took part in the quiz not only could read, but did so.
“These kids are the best readers in all of Southland.
“These kids are avid readers.”
It was the most teams that had ever entered the competition in Southland, with 32 teams taking part, including Halfmoon Bay School from Rakiura Stewart Island.
The results were close, only one point separating the top three teams.
To find questions for the quiz, he read widely from books published throughout the world.
The quiz was started when Mr Mills observed children were not reading for pleasure.
“Especially boys weren’t being rewarded for reading, so I thought, let’s start something that recognises children for their reading.”
When the competition first started, more girls than boys took part.
“Now its about 50-50 with boys and girls.”
The New Zealand government was concerned about the drop in literacy levels, he said.
“Mind you, they’ve fallen in quite a few western countries, but our literacy levels have plummeted quite a lot since
“Maybe that’s the advent of the emphasis on social media?”
The government was looking at the way reading was taught.
However, he believed it was not so much about finding a method to improve children’s reading but a combination of factors, which included good teaching and parents and caregivers who read to children and bought them books.
“This is the secret.
“There is no one methodology that can fix this.”
It was also important that children chose what they read and read a wide range of material, he said.
“If we are going to promote reading, it’s got to be reading for pleasure.”