Large Print and Its Impact on Readers: Guest Blog Post

aSZKt543_400x400Hello everyone!  This blog post is all about large print and what a valuable part of the library collection it can be!  I was recently introduced to Sabine McAlpine, whose passion for large print led her to her current position as Strategic Director at Thorndike Press, which also partners with Follett School Solutions to provide large print to create a more inclusive library for all types of readers.  Before starting at Thorndike Press 20 years ago, Sabine volunteered at public libraries, running story time, reading with children of all ages, and putting the FUN in reading.  A reluctant reader herself, her compassion and drive to reach children where they are continued as she was accepted as a reading coach, volunteering weekly at local schools, supporting and helping to create a culture and love of reading.  Now that you know a little more about her, let’s get started!

Hi Sabine!  Thanks for doing this guest post!  Could you share with us some common fallacies about large print?

One of the first hurdles for educators to overcome is the perceived stigma associated with large print. They often think of large print as a medium for older adults or the visually impaired and the books will be larger in size.  When in fact, we publish hundreds of high interest, award-winning, and curriculum favorites in large print. These books are changing the mindsets students have about their own reading capacities and reading experience. In research conducted by Project Tomorrow, nearly 60% of middle school students stated that they were better able to stay focused and did not lose their place due to distractions when reading the large print book. In addition, Thorndike Press takes the potential stigma seriously. Our books are similar in size and weight to the standard print edition. They are produced with the same cover art and illustrations as the original edition, and do not feature the words “Large Print” on the outside of the book. All Thorndike Press titles are unabridged and hardcovers are library bound and have a 100% guarantee on the binding.


So glad you are printing for demographics for young adults!  A question most people, including myself have is how can you fit an entire book into large print when they look like they have the same number of pages?

I have been asked this question more times than can count! To explain this, I typically show an example of Harry Potter in regular and large print and my answer is, “it’s magic!” The magic is our paper, a high quality, high opacity, thinner paper that ink does not bleed through. This allows us to keep the book a similar size. Thorndike Press large print books are in a 16-point, Serif font, with increased white space, which is less intimidating to a student, and has been proven to lessen decoding and tracking issues and increase fluency and comprehension.


That’s a great example to share (because would doesn’t like Harry Potter!)  So, what readers are most drawn to large print and why?

It has been amazing to watch, hear, and see all different types of students drawn to the larger font format, but most notably are those that what we define as striving readers. With large print striving readers have exhibited increased engagement and academic achievement, creating equity in their learning environment. Teachers overwhelmingly identify “easily distracted” and “lacking comprehension of what they are reading” as defining characteristics for their striving or reluctant readers. In the Project Tomorrow study, three-quarters of teachers said that their students reading below grade level demonstrated evidence of increased reading comprehension and better retention with the large print books. 95% of these teachers committed to continual use of large print in their classroom. A significant impact has been noted for students learning English and special education students. Almost two-thirds of teachers said that the large print text resulted in faster acquisition of English by ELL/ESL students.


Thanks for sharing stats from Project Tomorrow!  Another question librarians and educators ask is if  large print books are still valuable in the age of e-book technology and font size?

This is an interesting question as there’s a common misunderstanding that because the font size can be increased with e-books that they could offer the same results as the print book. While we believe that students can gain from all reading resources, studies have shown that retainment, enjoyment, and comprehension increase when reading the print format. The average student spends 9-10 hours on a screen a day with eye fatigue setting in after only 90 minutes. When asked, more than 50% of students in grades 3-12 said that school reading experiences would be more enjoyable if all books were in large print. Project Tomorrow also found that students who read large print text have increased student growth in Lexile levels and higher student comprehension scores even when reading large print books above their reading level.  Additionally, 69% of reluctant readers said that they enjoyed reading the large print text more than any other class books during the school year.


I’m learning so much from this myself!!  So, let’s get tap into our more creative side.  What would be some creative ways to display large print to capture attention?

Media specialists and teachers are so amazing. They are the experts in increasing engagement. Most educators place their large print titles in a separate area, near their new books or graphic novels, when introducing the new format to students, parents, and teachers. I’ve seen great displays and and one that comes to mind was “Magnify Your Reading.” Media specialists are fantastic at book talks, like you, Naomi, and always bring the large print, simply showing the students an available format that can be less frustrating or overwhelming. Recently, I’ve had several media specialists and teachers add large print to their book discussion groups, lit. circles, and classroom collections. One librarian shared that she sees it as no different than offering other formats, like graphic novels, as literacy intervention resources that inspire reading and build confidence.


Thanks for sharing that display!  Finally, what are your future projects with Thorndike Press and large print?

We are thrilled to launch the Project Tomorrow white paper with a webinar on EdWeb, “Support Positive Literacy Outcomes with Large Print.” In addition, with the confluence of September being National Literacy month and the amazing results from the research, this sparks opportunities with mainstream media. We will be working with the District Administrator Magazine to share our results in October, holding several webinars with School Library Journal in January, attending all major national and regional shows, and offering free professional development to districts. I’m very excited to share that we will also offer a session at TLA 2020, “Reading Success Matters: Increase Literacy and Reading Engagement with Large Print,” with amazing panelists: Becky Calzada, Library Media Services Coordinator, Leander ISD, Carter Cook, Director Library Services, Fort Worth ISD, Julie Moore, Media Services Coordinator, Arlington ISD, and Renee Newry, Media Services Coordinator, Irving ISD.

Thanks Sabine for sharing your time and information!  I really enjoyed working on this post with you!







Narrative Non Fiction/Fiction book pairs

Last week, I was fortunate to attend and present at a library conference in North Texas, #ntxlibcamp (check out the hashtag and see all the great stuff/presentations that happened by amazing librarians!) One of the sessions I did was great narrative non-fiction for young adults 6-12.  And when I had more time, I also presented and shared a fiction/non-fiction booklist with everyone too!  So, if you’re looking for great non-fiction, try out these titles!!  And if you want to display them with fiction, here are some great pairs!
Here are some great non-fiction titles:

Here are some great fiction/non-fiction pairs:

Charged up Narrative Non-Fiction 90 Second Book Review! The Electric War by Mike Winchell

29540346Sometimes, it never occurs to me until after I’ve read a really good narrative non-fiction how impactful our history is to our present day.  I’m sure many kids and teens have heard about Thomas Edison, but do they know anything about George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla?  This novel allows the reader to peek into their lives and how different in personalities each were.  And while many revere Thomas Edison for his inventiveness, he had a dark side too, which is revealed in this novel.  I loved it from beginning to end!  Watch my 90 second book review to learn more, including tie-ins to curriculum!


90 Second Book Review: A Creepy Thriller!

37506333._sy475_I just uploaded my first (of hopefully more!) 90 second book review for this creepy thrillfest of a book!  Set in 1982, it’ll bring some feels from books you may have read in the past and definitely teens who like horror will want to read this one.  Here’s my 90 second review!

Hope you enjoy it (and if you visit my Youtube channel, I have some other interesting things for libraries/librarians on it)

Books, books, books! Get your TBR ready!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present at a conference in the Houston area, Setting the Trend. This conference has doubled in size in three years with about 700 showing up, both attendees and presenters. I did two sessions (which I’ll share here!) and one of those was a booktalk. I was overzealous and had a list WAY over what I could talk, so I thought I’d share the presentation with you. Each book has a recommended grade level (including mature readers) and if it was a diverse title, it is also listed.

And since I’m still reading, I also did a quick vlog on two great middle school/junior high books that should be a in MS/JH collection. You can find the link to this review here.

So, if you’ve read these, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did! If not, I hope you will enjoy them when you read them!! You can find some individual book reviews on the blog, but there are some I hadn’t reviewed but still really enjoyed.

Here is the breakdown of the titles I booktalked. Enjoy!

Get Your Summer Booklist (and sketchnotes!) On!

Bitmoji ImageAs the school year ends, it’s time to kick back a little and enjoy the summer!  If there is one thing librarians and educators have too little time of, it’s reading during the school year.  The same can be said about students as well.  Most of the school year, they are required to read textual information, for the most part, instead of having time to read what they want do without any following assignments…pure bliss!  SO…what better way to start the summer than by creating booklists!  The beauty of creating a list is that they can be HOWEVER 👏 YOU 👏 WANT 👏 TO👏.  You want it by genre? Go for it!  How about alphabetically, by popularity, by recommendation…hey even by color if you want to!  If you meet with a book club or a group of bibliophiles,  share them (as they also make for great TBR lists too!)

I’ve uploaded a new Youtube vlog post with FIVE different sketchnoting themes you can draw to put a creative spin on your lists.  They come with instructions for both paper AND digital, using the Adobe Draw App. I’ve also included some tools to make it easy 😊  BONUS: they are EASY sketchnotes too, so you won’t feel overwhelmed.  So, be a little creative with your booklists, learn something new (if you’ve never sketchnoted/bujo’ed) and enjoy yourself!

Continue reading “Get Your Summer Booklist (and sketchnotes!) On!”

YABAM!! And a vlog was born :)

Yes, it’s true!  I’ve just started a new weekly vlog on Youtube that’s all about young adult books, tricks and tips, ideas, programming and SO MUCH MORE (you should see the list I’m creating!!)  I’ve only got two up (see below) and they’re going to be short and sweet.  That includes booktalks, which I’m doing this next time!!

This all started in my head when I began to think, “How can I be more concise with by blog?  What can I do to bump it up?  And the word “vlog” appeared out of the sky, with a chorus singing in the background (lol!)  But really, I was just hoping to share the love quicker and easier 🙂

So if you want to stay updated on the vlog posts, you can always subscribe and spend a few minutes with me a week 🙂  Here’s the link if you’re interested and fear not!  I’m still going to blog too.  That’s in my blood!


Add these to your TBR list NOW!

First of all, I remember the first time I saw those three letters in email conversations and always wondered, “What does TBR mean?”  So I asked 🙂  And if you, like me, don’t know what it is, here’s the answer –  “To Be Read.”  We ALL have that list, be it by our bedside, our coffee table, or our desk (hey, even the dining room table or your device!)  and I wanted to share a few titles I’ve recently read that should be on that list!

grim loveliesGrim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd.  2018, HMH Books for Young Readers

Modern day Paris is filled with witches, goblins, Pretties, and beasties.  But these witches wear Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada.  Ruled by the Royal Court, they have been given designated parts of Paris, including the humans (Pretties) living in them.  Mada Vittora is the most powerful and influential of the witches and she has made beasties to serve her, including Anouk her servant, Cricket the thief, Luc the apothecary, Beau the chauffeur and  Hunter Black, the mercenary.

But after one evening spent with the royals, Mada Vittora is found dead, and the beasties only have 48 hours until they turn back to their original forms.  But news of the death gets out through scryboards, crows, and the Haute (magical community), and Viggo, Mada Vittora’s boy, is set on revenge.  The only thing left for the beasties to do is seek asylum and help from Vittora’s enemy, Mada Zola.  But can she be trusted?  She is a witch…

This is a beautiful, dark, and fantastical book that creates a Paris that is dangerous, alluring, and grim.  The main character, Anouk, juxtaposes the setting with her purity and naivete, which the reader sees slowly dissolves as reality sets in.  The author left nothing and everything to the imagination from the spells cast to the tongues the witches use to cast the spells, to the history of the Haute and more.  Read this NOW, or at least put it at the top of your TBR pile!  Highly recommended for JH/HS

new kid

New Kid by Jerry Craft. 2019, Harper Collins

There is nothing Jordan loves more than drawing.  What he wants is to go to an art school, but his parents decide he needs to go to an Riverdale Academy Day School, which is a far cry from his Washington Heights neighborhood.  His first day there as a sixth grader, Jordan sees that he’s one of very few students of color and feels more out of place that ever.  He wants out.

But his parents tell him that time and patience can change things and so he must stick out the bus rides that have five stops before he gets to school, the bully who won’t stop bothering him, the teacher who seems biased, and trying to understand why pink shorts are so cool.

Eventually,  Jordan finds himself enjoying his new school and friends, but now doesn’t know where he fits in – is he Washington Heights Jordan or Riverdale Day School Jordan?

Jerry Craft does an amazing job presenting, in graphic novel format, a struggle that many kids find themselves in.  This is such a perfect book for junior high (and high school!) not only for its content and graphic novel popularity, but also in the characters, which are highly relatable.  Highly recommended for JH/HS.




shadow stateShadow State by Elyse Brayden.  2018, MacMillan.  

Brynn Caldwell is  an excellent student.  She excels in academics, paticularly science, which isn’t so unusual because her mother is a top science in a major pharmaceutical company and her father sits on the National Symphony Orchestra, a genius in his own right. But all it took was one bad semester….

Brynn suffered from acute depression and her grades, and friends, and her boyfriend abandoned her.  She is also having unusual flashbacks of being tied up in a room, a man’s voice…something she swears she’s never experienced before.

And now, her mother is being feted at a gala for creating a breakthrough medication, Cortexia, that allows soldiers coming back  from war with PTSD, to deal with their symptoms better through altering memories, feelings and emotions in a suggestive state.  But someone is out to sabotage the company and the drug, and it all involves Brynn…

Fast-paced YA action thriller at its best!  The premise for the novel lends itself to a mystery, although readers may be able to piece together the clues, but it still has an explosive ending.  Highly recommended for HS.


soul keepersThe Soul Keepers by Devon Taylor.  2018, Swoon Reads.

Rhett just watched himself die.  At first he was in a state of shock and confusion, but then Basil Winthrop shows up and tells him the Harbinger is about to pick them up and not to dawdle.

And what is the Harbinger?  It is a massive sea vessel that contains the souls of the dead that need to be ferried as well as place to protect them.  The crew members, known as syllektors, are VERY aware of psychons, who eat souls to stay alive.  The most dangerous missions are when Rhett and his small group of crewmates must collect souls, and possibly run into these monsters.

But Rhett is different, he was told by Urcena, the most dangerous leader of the psychons, that he is the Twice-Born Son.  And she wants him to find his power.  Once he does, she will come for it and him.  And the battle for the protection of souls begins.

This fantasy relies heavily on good vs. evil, but the best thing about it are that these aren’t angels and demons.  There is no heaven or hell.  There is the Harbinger and there is nothing.  The author did an amazing job of creating a world based on age old theme of good v. evil in such a fantastic, phantasmagoric way.  Recommended for HS.