When Bendigo’s Peita Allen was first diagnosed she did not know much about multiple sclerosis, other than that when she was young she had taken part in the MS Readathon.
The national one-month reading challenge is marking its 40th year, with a launch and birthday cake in Point Cook.
But for Ms Allen and many other parents the Readathon will be a chance to curl up at home with their children and share stories.
And while Ms Allen’s children Dante and Julian will get to choose their stories for the Readathon, she says that day one has been set aside for Mem Fox’s Possum Magic. That book was one of her childhood Readathon favourites.
“Usually we are around a dining table or in a bedroom reading,” she says.
This year’s new-look Readathon offers an interactive website-based challenge to primary and junior secondary school-aged children to read whatever they like, as long as it is during August.
The new website gives children the opportunity to rate and review books as well as collect reward badges online.
MS Readathon ambassador and children’s book expert, Lucinda Dodds, praised the initiative for influencing kids to make friends with books and develop a reading habit.
“Books can take kids on an adventure, make them laugh and help them learn. It’s a great way to celebrate the enjoyment of reading and the website’s new features make participation in the MS Readathon more fun and more social,” she said.
Students raise money for MS by getting sponsored for reading as much as they can.
The Readathon helps raise funds for MS Family Camps, which Ms Allen and her family attended last year.
“It was a chance for my boys to meet other families who struggle with MS and make them realise that they are not alone,” she said.
“There’s a lot of times they have to miss out on weekend activities with school. I can’t always go to them because sometimes I’m unwell.
“So it gave my kids a chance to see there are others who sometimes miss out on things too, but we get to do fun things like the camp, where we can all have fun together.”