Michael Morpurgo has written the first title in a range of picture books for dyslexic adults who want to read to their children.
Publisher Barrington Stoke was inspired to create the Red Squirrel Picture Books titles after meeting a man with dyslexia at a book event.
“We were approached by a gentleman who told us that it broke his heart that he couldn’t read to his child because of his dyslexia,” m.d. Mairi Kidd told The Bookseller. “So we talked to Michael Morpurgo, who we were already working with on low text books [textbooks that use a limited number of words]."
Morpurgo said: "I've always admired the team at Barrington Stoke, their passion for stories and for making stories accessible for children for whom reading is a challenge. It's only by loving stories ourselves and by passing on that love that we create readers. I was immediately taken with the idea of Red Squirrel books, a picture book list that dyslexic parents and less confident readers can read with their children."
All I Said Was, written by Morpurgo and illustrated by Ross Collins, tells the story of a boy who wants to fly swapping place with a bird who wants to read. A second title, Itch Scritch Scratch, from writer Eleanor Updale and illustrator Sarah Horne, will be published at the same time, March 2014.
Kidd said the layout of picture books can be difficult for adults with dyslexia.
“In a picturebook, the language and typeface are often very varied,” she said. “The text can be cut into small chunks or is sometimes spun around a picture, which can make a book tricky if you don’t have good reading skills.”
Barrington Stoke worked with the authors and illustrators to ensure that the books aresuitable for dyslexic readers. So with Ross’s illustrations, the publisher looked for sequences that went from left to right and backgrounds that weren’t too busy, said Kidd. It was a “negotiation” process, she added.
The books will be sold alongside other children’s books with a discreet sticker saying "This book helps more families grow a love of reading".
“Parents or carers with dyslexia want to be the same as everyone else and they want to buy a book in a bookshop that everyone will buy,” Kidd explained.
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