Image source: Flickr CC / Mo Riza
There are so many ways to get involved in fundraising these days. You can grow a moustache. You can give up sugar or booze. You can walk, you can run, you can cycle ridiculous distances. You can. I don’t want to. I like reading. I’m also a writer and the more people read, the more likely my industry is to survive another year. So I thought I’d start a fundraiser that involves activities you can do in an armchair, in front of the heater with a glass of wine. It’s a readathon for grown-ups, and it’s called Just Read. That’s right: you read, you raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, you make the world an all-round better place.
Indigenous homes have fewer books, computers and educational resources than non-Indigenous homes do. Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5. By Year 7, the gap has widened, particularly for numeracy. 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’, according to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Reading is the best. It’s comforting; it blocks out the big mean world. It’s entertaining. It tells you about things you might otherwise never have known existed. It can make you both smarter and wiser. You can imagine being places you can’t go or people you can’t be. And you can use it to impress people.
What if you had never had the chance to learn to read? What would life be like without it? Helping Indigenous kids get their hands on books seems a worthy aim for a fundraiser based on reading.
Just Read readathon runs from 1 June to 31 July. You can read whatever you want, and as little or as much as you want. All that is between you and your sponsors: the main things are that you enjoy it, and that you raise some money. I publish new reading challenges regularly on the website in case you need some inspiration. The mechanics of taking money and giving receipts is being handled by fundraising website Everyday Hero, so you don’t have to bother your head with all that business.
To find out more and sign up, visit the website: justread.com.au
Jane Rawson wrote the novel, 'A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists', which Ed Wright at the Australian compared kindly to Neil Gaiman and Paul Auster, and the Advertiser's Patrick Allington said was 'one of the stranger debut novels I've read'. Jane blogs at http://janebryonyrawson.wordpress.com/ and is writing a non-fiction book about surviving climate change.
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.