Tried and tested

20th April 2007 at 01:00
Barrington Stoke, which publishes 50 books a year for children with reading difficulties, has been named Children's Publisher of the Year

AN EDINBURGH-based publishing company, which specialises in books for children who have dyslexia, or are struggling or reluctant readers, has won a new publishing award.

Barrington Stoke has been named the Lightning Source Children's Publisher of the Year, one of nine categories in the inaugural Independent Pub-lishing Awards, run by the Independent Publishers Guild. The awards celebrate the success of independent publishers and their contributions to culture, business and education.

Barrington Stoke publishes titles by authors including Michael Morpurgo, Malorie Blackman, Julia Donaldson, Terry Deary, Catherine MacPhail, Alan Durant, Phil Ardagh, Theresa Breslin and Julie Bertagna. A language editor ensures the content is appropriate for children with dyslexia or reading difficulties.

The books, now used in three-quarters of secondary schools in Scotland, are tested, prior to publication, by children at the appropriate reading age.

Features include clear and direct language structures, challenging yet familiar vocabulary, well-spaced text and short chapters. No right-hand justification of the text, resulting in varied length lines, helps readers to keep their place, while specially modified fonts and cream or off-white paper ease the reading process.

The judges of the awards commended the Edinburgh publisher for its outstanding commitment to children who have dyslexia or find reading difficult.

"Barrington Stoke has stuck closely to its niche and its readers while constantly seeking ways to innovate," states the judging panel. "It continues to attract fantastic authors to its list and looks to improve what is already an excellent publishing idea."

Caroline Vass, the educational sales and marketing manager at Barrington Stoke, says it is vital to provide reading resources for struggling readers.

"We've got so many children who are at level B or below with their reading but are at a higher interest level; children who are maybe 13 but have a reading age of eight but understand higher age content," she says.

"All of our manuscripts go out to children of the appropriate age; they are our first editors. Every comment goes to the language editor. Teachers love this scheme because it builds the kids' self-esteem if they're helping to edit a book."

Barrington Stoke publishes more than 50 books a year, for readers aged eight and up. Its educational work stretches from P4 to S6, and some titles attract funding from the Scottish Arts Council.

"We're in 75 per cent of secondaries in Scotland and we're gradually building up primary schools as well," says Mrs Vass. "Four years ago, when we began our educational work, we had virtually no presence in schools.

"We started producing books for dyslexic readers but everything we do works well for struggling readers too. We don't publish versions of people's books; they're all original books. It's not just about the words; it's about the paper, the font, the spacing."

For teachers, she says the books are useful for mixed ability primary whole class work, lower English sets, inclusion, learning support, behaviour support and developing independent readers. The company also publishes resources for teachers.

Barrington Stoke was also highly commended in a second category of the Independent Publishing Awards: SBS Worldwide Edu-cation Publisher of the Year.

* Featherstone Education, which specialises in books for adults who work with children from birth to eight, won the SBS Worldwide Education Publisher of the Year award for its commitment to the publishing process, from creating and editing books to printing them on in-house digital facilities and dispatching and invoicing.

The judges commented: "This is a truly independent publisher that clearly lives and breathes what it is doing. It is close to its market, has a robust strategy and deserves its commercial success."

* www.barringtonstoke.co.uk

* www.featherstone.com

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