Here at Barrington Stoke, our mission is to help children and young people unlock a love of reading, and we were thrilled this year when one of our titles for teen readers, Lark by Anthony McGowan, won the Carnegie Medal, the oldest and most prestigious prize in children’s publishing.
We were founded over twenty years ago by a mother and daughter-in-law team who combined their expertise in dyslexia and children’s publishing to make books more accessible. We use a combination of specialist editing, a super-readable font and thick creamy paper to help ease the way in for those who have dyslexia, struggle with their reading, or simply don’t enjoy books and switch off easily. But the most important thing in terms of engaging these young readers is the strength of the story.
We’re helped in our mission by some of the most talented and best-loved authors writing for children today. For our readers, this means they can access the same great writers as their peers and not feel ‘locked out’ of the world of books – and it also means that these shorter stories are of the highest quality.
We don’t subscribe to the belief that engaging reluctant readers is only a matter of finding the right subject matter. Somewhere between 7 and 10% of the population are dyslexic – that’s approximately the same incidence as left-handedness, and we wouldn’t assume that all left-handed people like the same things. In some surveys as many as one in two children state that they do not enjoy reading, which means we are talking about a lot of children and therefore a broad scope of preferences.
So we work hard to find a wide range of authors and stories to ensure that we have something to offer everyone. For fact fanatics we recently published Survival in Space by David Long, an account of the incredible Apollo 13 mission packed with details about rockets and space exploration. This will be followed next year by Tragedy at Sea, David Long’s account of the Titanic disaster. Earlier this year we were delighted when Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award – it’s a sensitively told story about a boy who is struggling and confides his worries to a stone soldier. Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman has written a deft and powerful retelling of Wuthering Heights, which opens up the classic to modern readers.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is the story.