Dyslexia Awareness Week, 2019.

Lovely readers (of all abilities!) I am so excited to be doing a post to coincide with Dyslexia Awareness Week – and even more so because I have had the chance to interview the lovely Kirstin at Barrington Stoke, the super awesome dyslexia-friendly publishers, about this special week and the work they do to make reading more accessible for children and young adults. I hope you all enjoy this little collaboration – and feel free to comment or tweet me, Kirstin and/or Barrington Stoke with any further questions you may have. 

Lovely Kirstin, could you please tell us a little about yourself and your role at Barrington Stoke? How long have you worked for the publisher, what is a highlight of your job?

Thanks for having me on your blog, lovely Grace! I am the PR and Rights Manager at Barrington Stoke. I started as an intern over seven(!) years ago and simply never left. My role's changed and shifted in that time, and now I wear a couple of different hats – I am responsible for all the PR for the company, running campaigns, sorting all events, conferences and festivals, and generally anything to do with press and messaging. Then I'm also responsible for selling our titles into other languages and selling other subsidiary rights like extracts, audio and adaptations. It's a fast and busy job with lots of going on, but the absolute best thing about it is the impact you can see the books having – not a week goes by where we don't have a parent, teacher, librarian, bookseller or even a child themself contacting us to share their story about what a difference the books have made. It's incredible.

The most basic question, maybe ever: what is Dyslexia Awareness Week? How can we acknowledge and celebrate it? 

Dyslexia Awareness Week marks out time in the calendar to recognise dyslexia and reflect on how we can best support those people in our lives who are dyslexic. Some studies estimate as many as 1 in 5 people have dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies, but many people might not be diagnosed and have found other ways of coping. Dyslexia is legally classified as a disability but some people don't like to think of it in those terms. It's a processing issue, so people with dyslexia absorb or retain all of the same information as someone without dyslexia, they might just find it takes longer to process or recall. So think about how you communicate or what else you could do to make information accessible or available in multiple ways. Above all, use Dyslexia Awareness Week as a way of celebrating our differences and further removing stigma!

What kind of things does the wonderful Barrington Stoke do to help those of us with dyslexia? 

The whole company was founded on the idea of making books for children and young people who have dyslexia or struggle to read, so accessibility is key – we have our own font, designed by dyslexia and ophthalmology experts to give each letter its own distinct shape and help the eye track along the line; we print on thick, off-white paper to help with visual stress and prevent the letters 'dancing' on the page; we specially edit the books to tease out words or sentence structures that could become obstacles for a reader who is not confident, all while keeping the story flowing and the content age-appropriate; last but not least, we ask the biggest and best children's authors to write for us so that our readers are reading the same authors as their peers. And so every book is simply just a great story that can be enjoyed by even more readers! 

How can WE readers help and support those we know who live with dyslexia?

There are so many people in the UK and across the world living with dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies – some studies estimate as many as 1 in 5 people. So potentially a lot of people could benefit from a little extra thought in text layouts and design – keep that in mind if you are putting anything together! As readers we all want people to love books and stories as much as we do, but remember to open up sharing and recommending to include all kinds of reading so there's something for everyone. Let everyone find their own way and seek out new things that you can share together. At Barrington Stoke, we're committed to helping grow a love of reading in everyone but we're not experts in diagnosing dyslexia or supporting in other ways, so do check out all the brilliant charities and initiatives that are in place to provide guidance and resources. Here are just a few that we work with or admire:

I hope your readers found this useful! Happy Dyslexia Awareness Week and thank you so much for spotlighting Barrington Stoke! 

Thank you so much for chatting (via email, sadly I can’t get to Scotland right now, but maybe someday…) with me, Kirstin! You’re an absolute boss. I’d like to encourage my readers to also check out the Barrington Stoke blog for news on their latest releases and much more; I particularly enjoyed the very informative post about building dyslexia-friendly spaces!

Also, here are a few of my favourite books by these guys, in no particular order: 
Unboxed, by Non Pratt (see my review of this one HERE) (Young Adult)
Tin Boy, by Steve Cole (illustrated by Oriol Vidal) (8-12)
Grave Matter, by Juno Dawson (illustrated by Alex T. Smith) (Young Adult)
Letting Go, by Cat Clarke (see my interview with the lovely Cat HERE(Young Adult)
Race to the Frozen North, by Catherine Johnson (illustrated by Katie Hickey) (8-12)
The Last Days of Archie Maxwell, by Annabel Pitcher (Young Adult)

AND to celebrate even more, you can get 15% off single titles on the Barrington Stoke website with the code DAW2019. Go go go!


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