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Reading competition proves to be a page turner

Canberra Grammar Primary school students, Nick Barnard, James Rogers, Leo Barnard, and James Phillips, celebrate a correct answer at the Australian finals of the Kids Lit Quiz.

Canberra Grammar Primary school students, Nick Barnard, James Rogers, Leo Barnard, and James Phillips, celebrate a correct answer at the Australian finals of the Kids Lit Quiz. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The inventor calls it ''the Olympics of Reading'' and on Friday afternoon, a team of bookworms from Canberra Grammar School held off some fast-finishing interstate competition to win it. Again.

The four boys will now represent Australia in the world final of the Kids' Lit Quiz in South Africa after a nail-biting conclusion to the national final, hosted by Canberra Grammar.

The international literature quiz competition for 10-to-13-year-olds has been running for over 20 years, but only two years in Australia, with Canberra Grammar winning both times.

Canberra Grammar Primary school students, Nick Barnard, James Rogers, Leo Barnard, and James Phillips, try to think of an answer.

Canberra Grammar Primary school students, Nick Barnard, James Rogers, Leo Barnard, and James Phillips, try to think of an answer. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Twins Nick and Leo Barnard, 11, and James Rogers, 12, represented Australia last year in New Zealand, and with James Phillips, 12, joining their team this year, they held off some of their competitors to earn their place to reach the world final.

With their previous success, they were arguably the favourites of the 49 teams entered, but Canberra Grammar's A-team had a slow start, only just scraping through to the six-team final with a second-place finish in their heat, which asked questions like ''Whose arch-enemy is Green Goblin?'' (Spiderman) and ''Who is the evil Smurf wizard?'' (Gargamel).

There were plenty of nerves in the room for the final, which required teams to buzz in when they knew the answer. With two points for a correct answer and minus one for a wrong answer, two teams were catching Grammar, whose lead had narrowed to just three points.

Their coach, Janine Hudson, was so nervous she ''couldn't watch''.

But the boys' training - a summer of reading across assigned genres - came to the fore. Nick knew the answer in the topic of folktales - stone soup - and buzzed in for the win. There were fist pumps and high-fives all round with the realisation they had an unassailable lead.''It's their love of reading which gets them across the line,'' Mrs Hudson said proudly of her team.

Mary MacKillop Catholic School from Queensland came second, beating New Lambton Public School in a tiebreaker.The quizmaster and creator of the concept, Wayne Miller, said the event was like a decathlon, with a range of genres tested ''from The Hunger Games right down to The Very Hungry Caterpillar'' and with speed, collaboration and aural comprehension tested.

Mr Miller came up with the concept to recognise children for reading.

''I created it in 1991 because in New Zealand what do you think kids got rewards for?

''Just for rugby, not ever for reading, and here they're acknowledged for reading.''

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