Easy on the Eyes: Large Print Books for Teens

By Burns, Elizabeth | Young Adult Library Services, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Easy on the Eyes: Large Print Books for Teens


Burns, Elizabeth, Young Adult Library Services


Large-print books--those are for when you get older! Teenagers are lucky--they don't have to worry about small newspaper print or hard-to-read menus. Except, some do! Teenagers with low vision or reading disabilities and those who are reluctant readers need large-print books.

Statistics for teenagers with low vision can be hard to find. Lighthouse International says that "3 percent of individuals age six and older, representing 7.9 million people, have difficulty seeing words and letters in ordinary newspaper print even when wearing glasses or contact lenses." (1)

Teenagers with dyslexia and reading disabilities also benefit from books with a larger type size. (2) Wesley Yandell Jr. reported on the success of using large print in School Library Journal:

   [L]arger print is easier on students' eyes,
   something that may be a factor with kids
   who have undiagnosed vision problems.
   There may be a psychological factor as well.
   When kids first learn to read, they use Large
   print. As their reading acuity grows, the
   type size shrinks, and some students may
   perceive the smaller print as harder to read.
   The use of large print may unconsciously
   help them return to their earlier learning
   experiences, when they perceived reading as
   easier and more enjoyable. (3)

As explained by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the minimum type size for large print is 14 point, but most large-print books are in 16 or 18-point type. Novels are in 10- to 12-point type, and newspapers are often printed in 8-point type. (4) Isabel Warren-Lynch, Executive Art Director for Random House Children's Books, says that picture books are printed in 16- to 24-point type--and up! Middle-grade books are in 14-point type. (5) This article is in 12-point type. As teenagers leave behind children's books, they find that print, literally, gets smaller. Reading can turn from fun to a chore.

Commercial large-print publishers don't always carry young adult tides. Thorndike Press publishes at least two young adult books each month. (6) The Library Reproduction Service Large Print School Books and InfoCon publish a large number of books for teens and also provide "large print on demand" for tides that cannot be found elsewhere. Prices can vary widely, with on-demand services costing more. Resources listed in the sidebar have more information about some of the numerous sources for large-print books, newspapers, and magazines.

The Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader eBooks allow users to increase the type size of any book to 20 points, turning a regular book into large print at no additional cost.

You don't need to have everything in your collection--you just need to help your teens find sources for large print.

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