Opinion

What happened to the MS Readathon?

By Madeleine Byron

Call me old-fashioned but there is nothing I love more than snuggling up in bed with my nose buried deep in a book.

Not an ebook on my phone or tablet screen, a good old paperback book.

Reading for me means I can leave all the troubles of the world at the foot of the bed and get lost in someone else’s drama and fall asleep in peace.

I have never been the strongest reader and I rarely enjoyed any of the novels on the suggested reading list at school or university.

During my school years, my preferred choice of novel usually included a strong single female narrator who falls in love with the boy next door.

Believe it or not, this fascination with teenage love stories led me to sign up for the MS Readathon.

My memory has started to fade a little, but I remember arriving home from school and pulling out every book on the shelf with an intention of getting through them all by the end of the month.

I convinced myself that I was Mara Wilson, the main actor in the 1996 movie Matilda.

Which ironically was based on the book written by Roald Dahl and also in my pile of books to read.

I sat on the couch next to the mountain of books higher than seating level and started to make my way through a year's worth of stories.

I wandered around the house pretending to be that swept up in the story line that I would forget where I was going and bump into the coffee table – needless to say I was determined to be in character.

The end of the month came and I registered all 10 of the books I had managed to finish with the money I had raised for multiple sclerosis.

I remember feeling disappointed by my efforts as my expectations had fallen short and I had not read every book on the stack.

The following Monday all who had participated in the readathon were presented with a certificate of application.

To my surprise, I was the only student from my class to be called up on stage at the assembly.

It turned out my classmates had bragged about reading all these books but had not entered in the fundraiser.

For more than 40 years, the MS Readathon has been igniting a passion for reading in children.

Therefore, I was saddened by Shepparton’s lack of interest in this year’s fundraiser.

Yesterday morning I was excited at the prospect of putting together an article encouraging children to take part in the readathon and sharing the success stories of students who had started raising funds.

Out of the 10 schools I contacted, zero were participating in the MS Readathon for 2019.

This is not to say no school within the region was taking part, and if teachers are reading this, thinking, ''well she didn’t ring us'', please get in contact because we need to keep this tradition going.

I continued my love of reading into adulthood by falling in love with Nicholas Sparks novels and making my way through John Marsden’s Tomorrow series twice.

Children don’t know what they are missing out on if we don’t encourage participation in meaningful fundraisers.

To register for the MS Readathon go to www.msreadathon.org.au

- Madeleine Caccianiga is a journalist at The News.