A way into books for children with dyslexia
As Dyslexia Awareness Week begins, we look at some of the fantastic dyslexia friendly children's books being produced by Barrington Stoke.
Dyslexia Awareness Week, an annual event celebrated around the world to raise public awareness about dyslexia, begins today and runs until Sunday 6th November.
It's seems the perfect time to highlight some of the fantastic books from Barrington Stoke, an Edinburgh-based firm which is now 14 years old and the main British publishing house devoted to books for reluctant and struggling readers.
It's vital that children who are dyslexic have access to attractive, enjoyable reading and Barrington Stoke have top children's authors writing engaging, short books which offer a way for dyslexic children, or those struggling with other learning disabilities or simply reluctant to read, to enjoy the huge pleasures and vital learning experiences of reading.
Among the newer titles available are City Boy, by Alan Combes, a charming football story that is great for football-made teenagers who have a reading age of six to seven. The story is a heartwarming tale of a grandfather helping his young grandson to become a footballer - and a rounded person.
If it's rugby that takes a child's fancy, then there is also a dyslexia friendly version of the lively rugby tale Scrum! by Tom Palmer.
Dyslexia is certainly no indicator of lower intelligence (Picasso, Steven Spielberg and WB Yeats were among those were dyslexic) and children who enjoy good writing will love Anthony McGowan's witty tale of schooldays in Leeds called The Fall.
Barrington Stoke books are often bursting with humour, too. Mr Gum author Andy Stanton's Sterling And The Canary and The Story Of Matthew Buzzington provide plenty of laughs for any kind of reader.
The drawings used in their books make them inviting publications to read. Sonia Leong drew the illustrations for Chris Bradford's Ninja: First Mission and they complement the pacy story well. If you like a bit of scary horror, then Tommy Donbavand's Wolf - about a boy who turns into a werewolf - will have you eagerly turning pages.
But it is not just boys who suffer dyslexia and reading problems, of course. Bernadette McLean, Principal of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, said: "It has been known for many years that boys are more likely to be identified as dyslexic than girls but research in the United States indicates that this is because boys are easier to identify. Schools are more likely to pick up boys who are misbehaving for further referral as they tend to resort to bad behaviour more than girls. We find, at Helen Arkell, that by the age of 13 we are assessing as many girls as boys. It seems that girls can compensate for longer and cover over their difficulties, but when the environment becomes more demanding their difficulties become obvious."
So how welcome it is that there are specific girl-friendly titles among the 2011 Barrngton Stoke offerings. For teenage girls, whose reading age is 6-7, there is Jo Cotterill's Take Two, which is about two girls, Carla and Lily, who decide to get their own back on the cheesy, handsome captain of the rugby team who asks them both to go to the same prom.
For struggling teen readers who like history, and who have a reading age of around eight, there is Anne Perry's Tudor Rose, the first in the Timepiece series.
For the pre-teens, there is Candy Girl by Karen McCombie, which is about a girl called Dixie who finds out it's not all sweetness working at her favourite magazine - Candy. Some of the writers even use out-of-date picture bylines from when they were young and slim. Can that sort of thing really go on in publishing?
Books help children reach their full potential and Barrington Stoke, a previous winner of Children's Publisher Of The Year, are finding innovative and entertaining ways, without dumbing down or being patronising, of publishing accessible books for children who may need them most of all. Their books use all the means to be dyslexia-friendly - they are printed on thick, cream-coloured matt paper with good line spacing and concise sentences and the covers are wonderfully vibrant and draw you straight in.
It's also worth noting that these are the books for children. Barrington Stoke also produce books for adults, something rather essential given that their estimates are that around 11 million adults (18-65) have a reading age of 13 or below.