The kids are alright

…at reading, anyway. We’re so constantly told that children, and especially boys, don’t read. The organizers of the Kid’s Lit Quiz clearly – and rightly – don’t believe it.

This annual quiz, now held in seven countries, challenges 10–13 year olds to answer 100 questions on literature. The South London heat yesterday (in which I took part on the author’s team) gathered over twenty school teams whose knowledge about books – their themes, their authors, their heroes and villains, their mythologies, details, dialogue, descriptions – really was encyclopaedic.

The questions, all prepared by NZ quizmaster Wayne Mills, weren’t all about current UK best-sellers. They took in Greek and Egyptian myth, the earliest picture books and sophisticated YA novels, New Zealand and Italy and Canada and Germany.

It was really wonderful to see so much knowledge and enthusiasm about books among these young people. So boys don’t read? The three winning teams were all boys.

(Lindsey Barraclough, Sarwat Chadda, Sophia Bennett and me on the authors’ team didn’t do too badly either, I should add in modest brackets)

The questions are in ten themed categories: strangely enough we authors turned out to be most collectively knowledgeable about rabbits and wolves. Don’t quite know what that says about us…

Many thanks to the organisers of the Kid’s Lit Quiz and of monday’s heat at King’s College School, Wimbledon, for the opportunity to take part in such a fun event.

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