More than 1400 children tune into special live reading event with award-winning NZ author

Classrooms and libraries right across the country tuned in to a special live book reading by award-winning Kiwi author and NZSA member Tania Roxborogh on Wednesday – the first in a series of live author events being held as part of HELL’s growing annual Reading Challenge.


The live readings are a new addition to the HELL Reading Challenge, which is provided free to schools and libraries wanting to take part. It is one of New Zealand’s most successful free reading initiatives, designed to get kids reading, instil a lifelong love of books and lift declining literacy rates. This year’s special theme – The Great NZ Book Trip –  is a new offering within the Challenge and celebrates books about Aotearoa and the Kiwis who write them.


The live reading series takes classes and libraries into the worlds of the authors, who read from their books and answer questions from curious students. Over 1400 children tuned in to watch Tania Roxborogh read the first two chapters of Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea – a book that saw her win the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction and the Margaret Mahy Award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2021.


Tania also answered questions from the students about the inspiration behind her writing and how she creates her characters. She says the idea for Charlie Tangaroa came to her while teaching.


“When I’m teaching students how to write, I encourage them to be curious. One day, I wrote a question on the board, “What would you do if you found a mermaid on the beach” and suddenly I heard a voice in my imagination say, ‘poke it in the eye with a stick” (which happens in the book), and just like that I had another character to add to my waiting room,” she says.


Ben Cumming CEO of HELL, says they’ve been blown away by the incredibly positive response to the Great NZ Book Trip, which only launched in April and is already seeing an increased uptake in the Reading Challenge.


“Since 2014, children have read more than two million books as part of the Reading Challenge. Fostering a love of reading early has life-long positive impacts, so we’re really pleased even more schools, and libraries are joining us this year on the Great NZ Book Trip,” he says.


Tania Roxborogh says the Reading Challenge has had a significant impact on her students.


“As a secondary school teacher, I see the positive impact this programme has on students who take part in primary school and come through to high school – because they’re readers. It sets us up as teachers to take that love of reading further, so nga mihi,” she says.


The next live author reading is in June with Kate Parker, author of Kowhai and the Giants, which won the 2021 Best Picture Book and Best First Book categories at the NZ Book Awards.


The New Zealand Book Awards Trust administers the Reading Challenge alongside the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Students taking part in the Challenge read seven books to complete a pizza wheel, which they can redeem for a free kids’ pizza at HELL.

About HELL:

Established in Wellington in 1996, HELL pizza has become one of New Zealand’s most infamous and well-known brands.  With 76 franchises throughout New Zealand and more than 1100 staff, it produces more than 75,000 free-range pizzas every week.  With a focus on quality, it offers Kiwi consumers an ethical option in convenience foods. Supporting a range of causes – including the New Zealand Book Awards and IHC’s Project Active, HELL is an active member of the communities in which it operates.

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