My journey from an AR quiz writer to a published author

By Ruth Atkinson

Book covers for Amazing Racing and The Wishing Doll by Beverly Sanford

I joined Renaissance Learning in 2007 as a Quiz Writer, amazed that I was “getting paid to read books” – a dream job! The task of creating quizzes, much like writing a book, is a huge and challenging but very enjoyable one. Trying to explain the job to people who don’t know about Accelerated Reader is quite funny, as it goes far beyond just reading a book and writing questions about it. The challenge lies in choosing plot-based, memorable points that don’t confuse your reader – the same discipline can be applied to writing a book!

Working with Renaissance Learning has been an invaluable way to absorb the variety in children’s publishing and find books I might otherwise never have read. In recent years, I’ve grown to love reluctant reader titles – strong stories that often focus on sci-fi, horror and teen issues. They’re an interesting challenge when it comes to quizzing! They also provide a crucial reading resource for young people, which really matters to me.

It was this interest that led to me becoming an author for Badger Learning. I’d quizzed lots of their titles and so I was thrilled to be asked to submit ideas for their Teen Reads range. I found that the task of writing my first book, The Wishing Doll, was made easier by having read so many reluctant readers over the years. The weirdest part was seeing my own book on the shelf at Renaissance Learning, waiting to be quizzed by my colleagues!

My second Badger challenge is a non-fiction title, another area of quizzing that I really enjoy. I can say with some certainty that writing a non-fiction book is harder than quizzing one, but I’m very proud to have written a book about one of my passions – motorsports. I hope that people have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

The great thing about going from quiz writer to author is that in both jobs, I’ve felt hopeful that I’m helping young people to enjoy reading, and perhaps writing, too. As someone who pretty much lived in the library as a child, I know how much reading matters.


This article was originally published in the 2015 What Kids Are Reading report. Read more reflections on reading from children’s authors at whatkidsarereading.co.uk.



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