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NZ Book Council survey highlights need for Hell Reading Challenge

  • The HELL Reading Challenge continues to inspire young Kiwis to read more books – over six million since its launch in 2013.

  • HELL caravans will tour Northland and South Canterbury in October to reach kids in regions with no access to a HELL store.

  • How it works – see the HELL Reading Challenge in action!

In light of the NZ Book Council’s latest findings that more than 440,000 Kiwis have not read a book in the past year, the HELL Reading Challenge – now in its fifth year – is more relevant than ever, says HELL general manager Ben Cumming.

“These latest statistics prove that reading needs to be encouraged at every opportunity,” said Cumming. “We have been investing in our grassroots reading programme in schools and libraries since 2013 and remain as passionate and committed as ever.”

This year, the HELL Reading Challenge has seen over 290,000 pizza wheels distributed to more than a thousand schools and libraries* across New Zealand – 258 more institutions than participated in the whole of 2017.

“We are extremely proud that the Reading Challenge continues to go from strength to strength,” said Cumming. “We’ve always loved finding different ways to spark the imagination. Reading is a great way of doing that.

“The New Zealand Book Council highlights how literacy rates directly impact our country’s future prosperity and well-being; it wants to grow a nation of readers and we are helping to do exactly that.”

How the challenge works

The challenge rewards students with a free ‘333 HELLthy Kids’ Pizza’ once they have read seven books and had their achievement approved by a teacher or local librarian. For each book read, they get a stamp on their HELL ‘pizza wheel’ – a cardboard disc distributed by participating schools and libraries. The completed and approved wheel can then be taken into a HELL store to be redeemed for a freshly cooked pizza.

Watch the HELL Reading Challenge video to find out more.

Keen to reward hungry bookworms who have completed a wheel but live too far from a HELL store to redeem their free treat, HELL is sending fully equipped caravans to cook fresh pizza on the spot in a number of locations around Canterbury and Northland.

“We really wanted to ensure that as many kids as possible, who have been inspired by the challenge, get the reward they deserve,” said Cumming.

“The caravan tour helps generate an extra buzz for kids who wouldn’t normally get the chance to celebrate completing the challenge!”

Simple yet effective

While the promise of free pizza is a big motivator, Dunedin Public Libraries event coordinator Kay Mercer says that, over time, the sense of achievement that children gain from completing books is the biggest prize of all.

“We have been taking part in the challenge since it was launched in 2013,” said Mercer. “Every year, we go through more and more wheels – our librarians are certainly kept busy clipping them off!”

Mercer said she believes that the simplicity of the challenge is the reason it remains so popular.

“It’s really easy for families to understand and engage with. I think that is why it is so effective in encouraging children to read and is a big reason why we like it.”

Engagement and imagination

Anita Lamont, librarian at Waiuku Primary School, agrees.

“I love running the Reading Challenge! It is such a fun, easy way to engage children in reading and they feel proud when they receive their completed pizza wheels,” said Lamont, who also sees the challenge as a way to stoke children’s imaginations.

“This year we ran a competition called 'A Piece of Pizza', where children and classes were asked to make a pizza or a pizza ingredient out of old text material, such as newspapers or magazines. We then made a display out of all of the entries and a short video clip.”

Mercer said the challenge is a great way for librarians to encourage young readers to broaden their horizons.

“Our librarians have found it is a useful tool for starting conversations with children about their reading habits, which in turn helps us challenge them to stretch their reading through book recommendations.”

Tried and trusted

Jen Squire, Year 5 & 6 teacher at Adventure School in Whitby, Porirua, says her school has been involved in the challenge for the past three years.

“I love that our students are excited to get into reading. They enjoy the competitive edge of the challenge too. In an age of increasing technology, it’s great to see that books still have an important role to play.”

* 881 schools, 175 public libraries and two bookshops. As of 27 September, 2018.

Caravan Tour details


Monday 1 October:


10.00 am - 12.00 noon (Kawakawa Library, Gillies Street – in staff car park behind library)


2pm – 4.00pm (Procter Library, 6 Cobham Road – up the library steps, on the Kerikeri Domain)

Tuesday 2 October:


11.00 am - 1.00 pm (Kaitaia Library, Te Ahu, corner of Matthews Ave and South Road - Te Ahu carpark at the back of the library)

Thursday 4 October:


11.00 am - 1.00 pm (In front of Dargaville Public Library, 71 Normanby Street, Dargaville)


Tuesday 2 October:


12.00 noon - 2.00 pm (In library carpark, Waimate District Library, 125 Queen St, Waimate (Highway 82))

Wednesday 3 October:


11.30 am - 2.00 pm (In the public car park behind Temuka Library, 72-74 King Street, Temuka)

Thursday 4 October:


12.00 noon - 4.00 pm (In front of the Geraldine Library and Service Centre, 80 Talbot Street, Geraldine)


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