Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Author Matt Stanton’s top tips for spelling

Kamahl Cogdon, March 3, 2021 6:45PM Kids News

Print Article

Funny Kid author Matt Stanton is encouraging kids to have a go at the Prime Minister's Spelling Bee. media_cameraFunny Kid author Matt Stanton is encouraging kids to have a go at the Prime Minister's Spelling Bee.

spelling bee

Reading level: green

Matt Stanton might be a top children’s author — and a “pretty good” speller — but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get stumped* by some words.

The author of the best-selling Funny Kid series admits he still struggles to know when to use passed (as in ‘I passed the book to my friend’) and past (as in ‘I love reading about events that happened in the past’).

“I just can’t get that one. I’ve tried so many times and so many tricks but they just don’t stick with me,” Matt said.

Throwing his support behind the 2021 Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee, Matt said learning to spell was “super important”.

“It’s important because spelling is the tool that we use to read and to write,” he said.

“We must have that tool in order to read and in order to write, and reading and writing is the gateway to the whole world.

“It’s how we get information in and it’s how we communication information out.

“So spelling is the skill that we need … but just because it’s a skill doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

“And that is where the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee comes in.”

Watch Matt Stanton test his spelling

Matt Stanton – the Prime Minister's Spelling Bee

Asked how he rated himself as a speller, Matt replied: “I should be pretty good, right, because I’m a writer, that’s what I do. I’m not an excellent speller, I’m not a child prodigy*, but I’m pretty good.”

And what about making any embarrassing spelling mistakes?

“There are a couple of different ways to spell doughnut, depending on whether you’re spelling it the Australian way or the American way,” Matt said.

“One of those involves the use of a ‘G’ and if you kind of get a bit muddled halfway you end up writing ‘dognut’ and that’s unhelpful.”

Australian Reading Hour media_cameraMatt Stanton says spelling is an important tool we need to read and write. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Matt’s tip for spelling tricky words is “just give it a shot”.

“Because I read a lot, I have seen a lot of words, so my instinct* for how a word is spelt is usually pretty good,” he said.

“But the English language is really complicated and has a lot of rules that don’t make sense and contradict* each other.

“So I find the best thing to do when trying to remember how to spell a word is to go with my gut, not over-think it, to spell it quickly the way I think that it’s spelt, just give it a shot.

“I find if I start to over-think it and start to think about different combinations of letters and things like that I get into all sorts of muddles.”

The Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee is a free online competition for students in Year 3 to Year 8. Registrations are now open at

2021 Prime Minister's Spelling Bee logo media_cameraRegistrations are open for the 2021 Prime Minister’s Spelling.


  • stumped: confused
  • prodigy: someone who is very talented
  • instinct: a feeling about how to do something
  • contradict: say the opposite


PM urges kids to sign up to Spelling Bee

Warners are good sports with spelling

Fears for spelling in the digital age


  1. What book series does Matt Stanton write?
  2. What two words stump Matt Stanton?
  3. Matt believes spelling is the tool to do what?
  4. How does Matt rate himself as a speller?
  5. What word does Matt warn about making an embarrassing spelling mistake with?


Extra Reading in spelling bee