Reading Takes You Places!

A group of voracious Middle School readers are heading to New Zealand this summer to represent Canada at the Kids’ Lit Quiz World Final. The SMUS team recently beat seven other schools from across Canada at the national tournament in Toronto to earn the title of Team Canada!

The Kids’ Lit Quiz (KLQ) is an annual literature competition described as “the sport of reading” for students ages 10-13. The quiz consists of literature questions about books children would read from ages 2 to 14. World mythology, graphic novels and picture books are all fair game. There is no set reading list.

“Who saved their friend’s life by writing kind words in her web?”
“Where would you end up if you went through a magic wardrobe?”
“Whose weakness is Kryptonite?”

If you can answer these questions then the Kids’ Lit Quiz might just be the thing for you!

Team SMUS

Our Middle School is a place where our students have the opportunity to explore their many passions and hone their talents. Kids’ Lit Quiz is one such opportunity.

Since the summer of 2019, a group of about 30 Middle School students began reading voraciously and quizzing themselves with the help of online literature games. Through the fall, they joined the Book Club and we held competitions to see who would represent our school at the regional competition in Vancouver in November.

At the regional round, our three SMUS teams dressed up as book characters and, competing against 35 other teams from BC, helped make the competition a thrill to watch; the results were nail-biting to the very end! When all was said and done, one of our SMUS teams – Laila S., Avery S., Aidan M, and Will C. – won the competition and was named Regional Champions.

Earlier this month, this team headed to Toronto to compete in the national competition. The atmosphere was tense, but we were delighted to be joined by extended family members which meant that despite traveling the farthest, we had the largest cheering section in the auditorium! Our SMUS team hit their stride in the third round and firmly held their lead for the remainder of the quiz to win the competition!

Where do we go from here?

Team Canada, as we are now called, will travel to Hamilton, New Zealand in July to participate in Worlds against 10 other international teams. We will be hosted by Kids’ Lit Quiz for a week where we will participate in a jam packed schedule of activities all focused on the love of reading such as a book scavenger hunt through Hamilton Garden and meeting with New Zealand authors. We will be spending a full day at the film set of The Hobbit to visit the Shire. For all of these fabulous activities, we will be joined by the kindred spirits of the 10 other international teams who we are eager to meet and share our love of literature.

Skill-Building Beyond Reading

Exposure to high-quality literature directly impacts children’s vocabulary and writing skills. According to Martha Crippen, literature “gives students appreciation about their own cultural heritage as well as those of others; it helps students develop emotional intelligence and creativity; it nurtures growth and development of the student’s personality and social skills; and it transmits important literature and themes from one generation to the next.” 

As parents and teachers, we educate by modeling, and literature provides outstanding models for our students to gain writing skills and increase their vocabulary. Learning through playing educational games has been shown to engage our students, which is why this format of Jeopardy!- and Kahoot-style trivia games has been so effective with retaining the dense amount of knowledge required for KLQ, such as authors’ biographical information, first lines and characters. Because students use their imaginations to picture what they are reading, recall of plot and setting becomes automatic. Gone are the days of flash cards and notes; the students are busy quizzing each other through online apps and teacher/parent/student generated literature trivia and reading for pleasure.

Exploring a Passion

There is something truly special about the SMUS Middle School community where athletes, mathletes, robotics challengers and readers are equally celebrated with genuine enthusiasm and praise. Disciplined work ethic and teamwork are developed in pursuit of gaining higher knowledge and skill.

KLQ provides a fun and challenging venue for students to deeply engage in children’s literature. By working in teams, the students’ gain collaboration skills where they learn to listen and rely on each other. Individually, students become experts in their favourite area of literature – be it world mythology, graphic novels or popular series. They read a tremendous amount in order to prepare for the quiz, which increases their exposure to a variety of authors, writing styles and genres.

The camaraderie developed by preparing for and participating in KLQ is long lasting. These students are in the library at recess and lunch chatting every day about their favorite new authors or books they’ve just finished long after the quiz is over. The buzz generated by their excitement also permeates throughout the school community, causing animated spin-off discussions about books in the halls and classrooms.

The fast-paced competition may not be appealing to every reader. Students who don’t continue on to compete in KLQ are important members of our Book Lovers Anonymous Book Club, as they provide the team with formidable opponents to compete against and share their love of reading with like-minded peers.

Everyone in Middle School has a place to feel they can share and explore their passions and KLQ shines the spotlight on literature. The library program is centred around fostering a lifelong love of reading for every student. KLQ is one way that the Middle School program seeks to fulfill this mission.

As demonstrated by our trips to Vancouver, Toronto and New Zealand, reading truly does take you places.

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Sarah Bailey
Ms. Sarah Bailey is a Teacher-Librarian at the St. Michaels University School's Middle School.

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