Reading for a Trip Halfway Around the World

West Hartford students vie for the opportunity to compete in New Zealand


Thirteen 5th graders at and sixteen students from are reading their hearts out in preparation for The Kids’ Lit Quiz first U.S. Finals which will take place on Friday, Feb. 3, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

They will be competing against 52 other 5th to 7th graders representing five districts (New Britain, Plainville, Middletown, Simsbury, and West Hartford) at Central Connecticut State University. CCSU’s Department of Reading and Language is hosting the Quiz, which promotes wide reading and tests knowledge of children's literature.

The Duffy 5th graders have been meeting weekly, planning book selections and reading, reading, reading. “I saw this as an enormous opportunity for great readers to enjoy the thrill of competition,” explained Clare Taylor, the 5th grade teachers who organized the Duffy teams.

Sheri Probert teacher at Smith, a magnet school for science, math, and technology said they are excited to showcase the efforts Smith readers. “The students are very enthusiastic about having a time to shine." Probert said. 

The kids from both West Hartford schools will work in teams of four to answer 100 questions in three hours. "I feel honored that I get the opportunity to do this. It makes me feel really special," said Ethan Penn, a 5th grader at Smith. “We are really excited about reading,” said Lauren Bettencourt who hopes her team can go to New Zealand.

The Lit Quiz puts readers onto the stage and lets them compete for fantastic prizes. The Quiz has been offered in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and China since 1991 – and now the U.S. winning team will qualify for national and world finals in July in New Zealand.

The Kids' Lit Quiz is not-for-profit and run entirely by volunteers. Reading and Language Arts Professor Catherine Kurkjian, who also serves as the U.S. coordinator for the Quiz, organized the event with Dr. Mary Beth Iacobelli, New Britain Public Schools.

In addition to being the first U.S. site for the Quiz, the brainchild of the event, Wayne Mills, will serve as Quiz Master. Mills is currently a Visiting Professor in CCSU’s Department of Reading and Language Arts and is a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland in the Faculty of Education. Mills launched the Kids Lit Quiz in New Zealand in 1991 because he was concerned that “keen readers are never given prizes for their love of reading.” He wanted to make children who love books “as highly valued as school sports stars in his sports-mad country, with national TV coverage, trophies and opportunities to compete in exciting venues to spur them on.”  This web site has more info about the Kids Lit Quiz: http://www.kidslitquiz.com/home.

This information was provided by Clare Taylor.


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