Students Compete In The Sport Of Reading At Kids' Lit Quiz Finals
Team From Squadron Line School In Simsbury Wins U.S. Finals; Heading to New Zealand In July
Twenty-one teams of Connecticut Middle School students competed in the first U.S. finals of the Kids Lit Quiz, a literature competition for kids age 10 to 13, Friday evening at CCSU in New Britain. The winning team, Squadron Line School, is going on to the international finals in New Zealand. From left, Andrew Donshik, 11, Elyse Kassa, 11, and Alyssa Lehman, 11, back to the camera, celebrate when their team was announced as the winner. Not pictured but on the team was Eva Kaplinski, 11. (Richard Messina, Hartford Courant / February 3, 2012)
When Simsbury sixth-grader Andrew Donshik was asked Friday night how he planned to celebrate his team's victory at the U.S. finals of the Kids' Lit Quiz, he said he would probably "go read more."
His passion for reading helped put Andrew on the winning team from Squadron Line School in Simsbury. Andrew's team will head to New Zealand in July for the international finals. His school also hosted a team that came in third place overall.
Mills, who moderated, quipped that the quiz is the "toughest in the world because you have to read every book written for kids in the past 2,000 years."
He said he started the program because he "never saw children being rewarded for being readers" or being recognized the way rugby and hockey stars get national attention in New Zealand. Mills, who funds 90 percent of the competition himself, said he envisioned the Kids' Lit Quiz as a "Trivial Pursuit, where all the wedges were literary."
'Little Women' And Marge Simpson
Ten categories made up the quiz, with 10 questions per category. They ranged from the last name of the family in "Little Women" (March) to more pop culture questions like the color of Marge Simpson's hair (blue).
A few others: What is the last word of Humpty Dumpty? (Again). Who lives somewhere over the rainbow? (Munchkins). What are the two cities in Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities"? (London and Paris).
The categories — which the students did not know in advance — were Cats, Cetaceans, Cities, Clothes, Colors, Folktales, Myth Beings, Powers, Rodents and Finally. When the 10 categories were announced, each team placed a bet in one category, in which their team would receive double points. Most teams bet on the Myth Beings category.
Some questions were a little lost in translation. In the Myth Beings category, students were stumped at being asked to identify the "large blue beast with a voracious appetite for biscuits."
When Cathy Kurkjian, the professor at CCSU who arranged the event with Mills, suggested replacing the word "biscuit" with "cookies," the kids started laughing and cheering. Of course, the answer was Cookie Monster.
One of the toughest questions was about Sherlock Holmes in the Colors category. Students were asked to fill in the blank of "A Study in ____." (Scarlet).
Some questions aimed at U.S. students proved to be trickier than expected. In a sudden death round, when neither team knew why Wilbur from "Charlotte's Web" asked Charlotte for help, Mills jokingly said: "I can't believe it! You American kids are letting me down!"
A book was awarded to each team member who won in each of the categories.Reading is what brought together every kid in the room on Friday.