Wayne Mills grew up in a house of books in Napier and has been a reader ever since.
Wayne trained at Ardmore Teachers’ College and spent 16 years teaching in Napier and Tirau before becoming a lecturer at Waikato University in 1989. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland School of Arts, Languages, and Literacies, and a popular speaker around New Zealand. In his office he is surrounded by more than 3,000 children’s books. He has read them all and noted, on cards, questions about each.
Wayne established the popular Kids’ Lit Quiz held annually in New Zealand and in 2003 extended this to an international event. He is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s foremost authorities on children’s and young adult books. From the first event featuring 14 teams held in Waikato in 1991, the quizzes have grown to well over 400 teams from nearly 250 schools competing around New Zealand.
Inviting teams of four 10–13 year olds to answer wide-ranging questions about children’s books, the quizzes have become popular events in primary and intermediate school calendars. Students ‘train’ by reading widely to build up knowledge. Regional winners compete to become the representative New Zealand team. Teams from New Zealand, South Africa, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete at the World Final.
‘The quiz is about rewarding kids who love reading and who are good at it,’ says Wayne. ‘For decades in schools we’ve recognised achievement in other arenas – through science fairs, Mathex and, above all, in sport. There was nothing for our passionate young readers. The competitive side to the quiz is a real draw and I believe it is specifically benefiting boys as a result.’
Wayne’s advocacy for children’s books and reading over 25 years has included chairing roles on the Hawke’s Bay Children’s Literature Association, resurrecting the Waikato Children's Literature Association, and the New Zealand Children Books Foundation, now the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust.
Wayne was the winner of the 2008 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal
. The award recognises his achievement in establishing the popular Kids' Lit Quiz. 'He has made an outstanding contribution to children's literacy both in New Zealand and in countries participating in the Kids' Lit Quiz, inspiring young readers, their parents and teachers,' notes Storylines Trust chair, Dr Libby Limbrick.
Wayne’s Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal
lecture highlighted the importance and pleasure of reading aloud to children and the joy of being read to, no matter our age and stage as readers. This lecture so inspired Waikato Storylines members that they titled their annual seminar ‘Read to Me…’ and invited Wayne to speak alongside David Hill
and Fleur Beale