My children have become really anti-social.  They don’t talk to me, apart from the odd grunt, and they barely even look at me.  They aren’t teenagers and I don’t actually mind.  Why?

They are reading.  On their own.  ALL the time.

They came home from school last week with a piece of paper bearing just three short words and these three short words appear to have ignited an obsession.  The magic words?

“Read to Rio”

The school has set their pupils a challenge: to collectively read their way to Rio in time for the Olympics.  Every book read counts as a distance of 5km.  Then, to make things a little more interesting they are competing against another school to see which one gets closest in the allocated time.  Brilliant.  Reading and competition what could possibly go wrong?


Whilst it is fabulous that this initiative is encouraging all ages, and abilities, to read it is also encouraging them to select short books.  Books that can be read in one sitting.  Books that they have read before.  Books that are not particularly challenging in style or in content.  Books that perhaps have limited educational value – if there is such a thing?  Am I being fussy that several Rainbow Magic Fairy books have moved them 25km closer to Rio?  Does it matter that a book is being judged on its page count rather than its synopsis?   Should I care that picture books have made a return to our reading lists?

I have been blessed with children who enjoy reading and so I know that I am being pernickity about this challenge.  I know I should be of the mindset that ALL reading is good.  But.  I have this little niggle in my brain.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging our children to seek out quality, not just quantity?

Take the dreaded Rainbow Magic (or Beast Quest) books that number a hundred and yet all seem to be the same.  These are books that follow a formula, that use language that does nothing to ignite a passion for words or storytelling.   Read one and you’ve read ’em all.  I hate these books with a passion that is almost as strong as T’s love of them.  There are so many brilliant modern authors out there, so many literary classics to be enjoyed yet T has read 5 of these formulaic tales in as many evenings just to finish a book and allow her to motor down the  road to Rio.  I don’t blame her, I’d probably do the same.  I just believe that reading shouldn’t ever be about quantity.  Reading should be about learning, challenging, entertaining and escaping whilst revelling in the art of the wordsmith.

Reading should take the reader on a journey.

Oh.  Ah.

Reading is taking my children to Rio.