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I have blogged about Barrington Stoke publishers before, here at Making Them Readers. They are an independent publisher set up specifically to help children read by producing and publishing books which break down some of the barriers between the book and the reader.

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They produce books which are extensively tested by children and created for child readers, rather than created with an eye to what parents think children want.

They publish all their books on cream paper for instance, which if a child suffers from dyslexia, is much, much easier to read from than black print on white paper.

Fonts are clearer to read, font sizes are slightly bigger, even for older reader’s books. There are less words on every page, and more space around the words/lines, making it easier for children to orient themselves on the page. With older children’s books, chapter sizes are smaller and more manageable, making them achievable milestones for children.

Previously I have only had experience of older children’s books published by Barrington Stoke. They have a fine range of what are sometimes called high interest/low ability books, which I’ve explored with children in schools.

What high interest/low ability means is that when children struggle to read, their reading skills often lag behind the subject matter they are interested in. They quickly grow out of picture books and books with babyish content, but often, given the restrictions on their ability, this is all they can manage. In this situation you find that the children, quite understandably, rapidly lose any interest in reading at all, because the subjects they are reading about bore them. Once you’ve lost a child’s interest in reading, and they start to code the act of reading as ‘boring’ as well as being ‘difficult’, you have effectively lost them as a reader.

Barrington Stoke aim to change that by creating books which match the skills of readers who are struggling, with material that is actually of interest to them. Giving them books that they stand a chance of mastering with help and perseverance, and a subject matter they actually want to read about, can often do the trick.

If you want to find out more about this, you can go to their website where they provide a key to the kind of books that are available for older readers and you can figure out what is appropriate for what you need.

Their books are available to the general public, as well as to schools, and you can buy them singly if you prefer, rather than in complex grouped reading scheme bands.

Today though I want to talk to you about their range for young readers. I had not come across these before I took a trip to my local library on Monday. They had a very attractive display of books that were new to the library, and as I was looking for newly published books I wandered over.

I rarely get the chance to read picture books any more. It is a great sadness that my three have finally outgrown them. My eye however was drawn to some dinky, A5 sized books sitting at the front of the display. I picked them up. Then I brought them home.

They are called ‘Little Gems’, and are specifically designed for the younger reader, but with all the characteristics that the books for older readers share.

I thought the production quality was very high. The pages are thick, high quality paper that makes the pages easy to turn. The signature cream background was noticeable and apart from anything else, gives an incredibly aesthetically pleasing finish to the books. They are designed for small hands to hold, rather like Beatrix Potter’s tales. This would make them more difficult to share with a class if you wanted to read aloud, but perfect to share with an individual reader, and for a sole reader to take charge of for themselves.

There is a range of interesting titles, and I will be reviewing the two books I picked up in subsequent posts.

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