Magazine article NATE Classroom

Barrington Stoke Books: Inspiring Reluctant Readers

Magazine article NATE Classroom

Barrington Stoke Books: Inspiring Reluctant Readers

Article excerpt

Barrington Stoke books help every child to love reading. They publish for reluctant, dyslexic and struggling readers--kids who find reading difficult, or who aren't yet ready to cope with long books, or who simply don't enjoy books.

Barrington Stoke was founded by Lucy Juckes and myself with very clear aims and objectives. Its books were to fill a particular gap in the market. When, far later than their contemporaries, the struggling readers at last reached a level where they could read 'real' books, there was nothing out there to tempt them. Books with the right interest age were too hard. Those with easily accessible text were too babyish in content. Inspiring books were needed to bridge the gap. So Lucy and I embarked on a challenging publishing venture.

Lucy, who had run the marketing department for Bloomsbury publishers, had all the essential skills to set up and run the company. I was formerly principal at Eairley House school and was responsible for ensuring that the books were on target. After many years of involvement with children with reading problems, I was well aware of the amount of professional expertise that was available in the field. Not only teachers, but speech and language therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists and even orthoptists had strong ideas as to how books could be made more accessible and more attractive for the less able reader. The children themselves could articulate their preferences and needs with surprising accuracy, yet this great store of knowledge was largely untapped and certainly not co-ordinated. Individual ideas were not necessarily original but the combination of so many of them worked miracles. Remove all stones and hazards from the path and the fledgling cyclist will ride off in triumph. And reading, like cycling, is a skill that once learnt is never forgotten.

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The stories are written by some of the most famous and best-loved children's authors around. Stories that hook you from the first page. Stories that grab you and don't let go. Stories that make you want to carry on reading.

When a reader is hooked on a story, his or her reading ability improves. A child who wants to read on will read more fluently and have fewer problems understanding difficult words--because he wants to read on! That's why books for reluctant readers have to have fabulous stories. They need other things too--the presentation and the language level are vital, and Barrington Stoke use a variety of carefully tested methods to make books easier and more accessible for reluctant and struggling readers.

But in the end, it all comes down to the story. Barrington Stoke books are never dumbed-down or patronising. They are compelling stories that children enjoy reading, they are very accessible so that readers build up their confidence, and they look and have great covers so good that nobody feels embarrassed reading them. There is nothing on the covers to suggest that the books are for reluctant readers. Every detail matters:

* Barrington Stoke uses their own font, Barrington Stoke Roman, which was specially designed by language specialists. …

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