‘Don’t ask what’s wrong with the reader, what’s wrong with the books?’: writing for readers with dyslexia

From tinting their pages yellow to redesigning fonts, publisher Barrington Stoke is leading the way in dyslexia-friendly books. They and their authors – including Meg Rosoff and Anthony McGowan – explain the practicalities

Mainstream understanding of dyslexia has come a long way from the days when children with reading difficulties were labelled simply lazy or stupid. This week in England and Wales is Dyslexia Awareness Week and according to the British Dyslexia Association, it’s estimated that 10% of the population are affected, 4% severely so. When there is a substantial body of evidence to show that children who read for pleasure achieve better academic results – and have greater levels of personal happiness throughout their lives – what is the best way to entice children to whom books seem inimical tests they’re set up to fail, into rewarding, enjoyable experiences?

Barrington Stoke is an Edinburgh-based publisher that specialises in books for children with dyslexia. Design and presentation are important factors in its output – with careful character spacing, and a bespoke font, called Barrington Stoke Roman, that minimises the chance of a reader confusing letter shapes. Illustrations are strategically placed to create a sense of accessibility, breaking up what may otherwise seem a dense textual barrier. The books are printed on a yellowish, tinted paper that minimises visual stress – a condition that can make printed words appear to dance or jump – and the pages are thicker too, to prevent words and pictures showing through the paper.

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From tinting their pages yellow to redesigning fonts, publisher Barrington Stoke is leading the way in dyslexia-friendly books. They and their authors – including Meg Rosoff and Anthony McGowan – explain the practicalities

Mainstream understanding of dyslexia has come a long way from the days when children with reading difficulties were labelled simply lazy or stupid. This week in England and Wales is Dyslexia Awareness Week and according to the British Dyslexia Association, it’s estimated that 10% of the population are affected, 4% severely so. When there is a substantial body of evidence to show that children who read for pleasure achieve better academic results – and have greater levels of personal happiness throughout their lives – what is the best way to entice children to whom books seem inimical tests they’re set up to fail, into rewarding, enjoyable experiences?

Barrington Stoke is an Edinburgh-based publisher that specialises in books for children with dyslexia. Design and presentation are important factors in its output – with careful character spacing, and a bespoke font, called Barrington Stoke Roman, that minimises the chance of a reader confusing letter shapes. Illustrations are strategically placed to create a sense of accessibility, breaking up what may otherwise seem a dense textual barrier. The books are printed on a yellowish, tinted paper that minimises visual stress – a condition that can make printed words appear to dance or jump – and the pages are thicker too, to prevent words and pictures showing through the paper.

Continue reading…
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