Irish authors offer advice for young readers in County Tipperary who are embarking on the 26th MS READaTHON

  • Authors urge, ‘Ask for book recommendations at your local library and bookshop’
  • Top 10 books for this year’s MS READaTHON selected by Irish authors
  • Still time to sign up for the MS READaTHON through your school, library or at


Irish authors joined today to offer some advice for young readers in County Tipperary who are to take part in the 26th MS READaTHON, and reminded young people that there is still time to sign up. The MS READaTHON reading month begins on October 11th until November 11th and any primary or secondary school student can take part through their school, library, local bookshop or online. MS Ireland’s biggest annual fundraising campaign, MS READaTHON provides vital local services and support for more than 8,000 people with MS and their families in Ireland.


Irish authors were surveyed on some key ‘book basics’. Those surveyed are urging both children and young adults seeking books to read, to ask at their local library and bookshop for suggestions on similar books to what they have previously read and liked. Advising on how to choose a book, most authors also find that a recommendation from a friend is ideal.


Author Emma Donoghue believes that the first paragraph will tell: “Read the opening paragraph to know if it’s a book you will like.” Eoin Colfer, best known for his Artemis Fowl series and Marita Conlon McKenna agree, advising to read the first page before you choose and check out the author’s other books. Conlon McKenna is author of the Children of the Famine series, which includes Under the Hawthorn Tree and Wildflower Girl.


Sarah Webb believes in trying different types of books – mystery, humour, fantasy, science fiction or hobbies. Although not a reader of fantasy, she loves Derek Landy’s Maleficent Seven. Nicola Pierce, author of Spirit of the Titanic: “Think of your favourite things, like what kinds of films you like to watch, and then look for those types of books. This is an important question: do you prefer to read interesting stories or do you prefer to read about interesting characters?”


All authors believe children and young adults greatly benefit from visiting the library, taking their time each visit and escaping into a world of books. Most of Darren Shan’s childhood books came from the library he says, “They are treasure troves of stories and librarians are often the best-read people around.” According to children’s author Emily Mason, “When you join a library you become part of a book-reading community and it’s not just books – there’s also CDs, DVDs, events.”


“The library keeps kids in the world of books…visit every week, readers, that’s an order!” is the message from Eoin Colfer. Marita Conlon McKenna claims that she would have been lost without her local library as a child who was a bookworm. Oisin McGann, who writes science fiction and fantasy books for children and teenagers, is enthusiastic, “I think everyone should get their head into books and should visit a library whenever they need to load up again.”


Authors were unanimous on thefact that if you don’t like a book after a few chapters, although it can often be worth sticking with it, do look for a new book and keep up the reading as there are lots of brilliant books out there! It’s also important to find a good place to read, comfortable and without distractions, just as you might set yourself up to watch a movie.


When asked whether they wouldchoose Kindle or hard copy, most authors claim that they love the feel of an actual book. Kindle is good when you’re on the road according to Darren Shan. Many combine both.


Irish authors’ top 10 books for this year’s MS READaTHON


  • Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne
  • Wonder by RJ Palacio
  • This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  • Ratburger by David Walliams
  • Little Women by Louisa Mary Alcott
  • Rebecca from the ‘Rebecca Books’ by Anna Carey
  • Ask Amy Green series by Sarah Webb
  • The Maleficent Seven by Derek Landy
  • It Wasn’t Me by Oliver Jeffers
  • Infinite Sky by CJ Flood


Irish authors’ all-time favourite character in a children’s book

  • Captain James Hook in Peter Pan by JM Barrie (difficult to pick a favourite, Eoin Colfer)
  • Anne Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (Martina Devlin)
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (Emma Donoghue)
  • All characters from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne  (maybe Tigger and Piglet are the funniest, but they are all brilliant, Chris Haughton)
  • Jo from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Cathy Kelly and Nicola Pierce)
  • Harriet in Harriet the Spy by  (Emily Mason discovered Harriet at 8 years old and read and re-read the book for years)
  • Sam and Gollum in The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (Difficult to choose, Oisin McGann)
  • Matilda in a Roald Dahl favourite (Marita Conlan McKenna)
  • Mary from The Secret Garden (JudyMay Murphy loves how stubborn she is, and courageous)
  • Dickon in The Secret Garden (Darren Shan loved how he could tame animals, event the wild ones, which he thought was cool
  • Margaret in Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume   (Sara Webb)


Paul Dietrich, MS READaTHON manager, comments: “We really appreciate the support of our Irish authors for MS READaTHON and thank them for their excellent contribution. There is a good level of sign-up so far this year and we are hoping that even more schools and students will sign up in the next week. You can get involved through your school, library or our website:”


Joined by Irish authors and celebrity mum Yvonne Keating, 16 year old Kerry Manning and her Dad, who has MS, have been encouraging children and young people to sign up for the 26th MS READaTHON as ambassadors for the campaign, since it launched in early September. Kerry previously took part in her primary school and will do so again this year with her friends as a fifth year student.



Visit to find out more, check out reading lists for each age group, submit book reviews, enter competitions and enjoy great content from Irish authors.


For schools around the country, the 26th MS READaTHON will provide:


·      Individual gift or certificate for each reader

·      School and Library awards

·      10 per cent of the money raised goes back into much needed resources for each participating school

·      The “Great Teacher Holiday draw”


And lots more…

To get involved with the 2013 MS READaTHON:

Tel:                 01 678 1600




Over 8,000 people have MS in Ireland, with thousands more family members affected. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease and is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young people in Ireland. MS can be a physically disabling condition but it can also affect the social, financial and emotional wellbeing of the person with MS.


Last year more than 16,000 children and young people in 625 schools around Ireland took part in MS READaTHON. Their efforts raised funds for local services such as one-to-one support for those newly diagnosed or struggling with their MS; physiotherapy and exercise classes; and respite to help the person recharge and to give their family a break from providing care


MS Ireland is the services, information and research society supporting people affected by MS. MS READaTHON raises funds to provide services like physiotherapy, one-to-one support from trained regional community workers, respite care and a range of living with MS group programmes and activities around the country.


For more information on MS and MS Ireland, visit our website on, call our information line on 1850 233 233 or email


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