The last readathon I did was in Boggabri Primary School, when I asked my rellies to sponsor me for each book I read. They nervously nominated 5c per book, knowing how fast I read. I watched their faces as they calculated how much they’d be left out of pocket.
That at least was a more interesting enterprise than the Multiple Sclerosis Walkathon around the school. I finished the course early, got bored, sat in the grass, then found some catheads to put in the path of stragglers. Someone dobbed me in, so I was made to stand in the circle of shame at lunchtime to be interrogated by Mrs Woodley.
Fortunately I am now an adult and can do adult readathons which don’t involve catheads or burnt grass or heat rashes. I do however, still want some cash.
This is for an initiative organised by author Jane Rawson to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The ILF, founded by Suzy Wilson (who runs Riverbend Books in Brisbane), aims to address literacy levels in remote communities.
Many Indigenous kids, particularly in remote communities, cannot get their hands on books. Here are some stats from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation:
· Indigenous homes, particularly those in remote communities, have fewer books, computers and other educational resources than non-Indigenous homes.
· The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students emerges early. Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5.
· By the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students ‘do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school’.
· In the Northern Territory, only one in five children living in very remote Indigenous communities can read at the accepted minimum standard.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation gets books for these kids and helps them learn to read.
Books have nourished me all my life, particularly when I was younger & didn’t have the social skills necessary for interacting with people. It would be wonderful if more kids had access to the vivid worlds of literature; they certainly kept me from boredom & loneliness,
The Just Read challenge is on over June & July, and I’m using it to read the swathe of unread books on my shelves, including:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
The Island Within, Richard Nelson
Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane
Not that Kind of Girl Lena Dunham
The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
Georgiana Molloy, Bernice Barry
As well as the 50 billion literary journals lying in piles around my flat.
If you want to throw money at me for reading (please do!), here’s my fundraising page. At least this way you can pay a flat rate, and avoid my rellies’ nervousness as their hands hovered over their purses.