How Many Reading Styles Live at Your Library?

5 min read

| By Andrea Drouillard |

Long Way Down (2017) is a novel written in verse by Jason Reynolds. It has been awarded as a Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and Printz Honor Book, just to name a few. Recently, I read the large print version published by Thorndike Press from Gale, a Cengage company. I felt accomplished to have read it cover-to-cover so effortlessly because physical books are challenging for me. If I want to complete a book, my brain typically prefers the audio version. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to complete a large print version of a book with such ease.

Author Jason Reynolds didn’t read his first book cover-to-cover until he was 17. For him, it was less about the reading process and more about feeling that books weren’t written in a voice that was natural or familiar to him. Reynolds credits rap music as a catalyst for connecting with reading and writing. Specifically, Queen Latifah’s Black Reign, the first cassette he ever purchased. He read the lyrics and the liner notes and realized that she had written brilliant poetry. This set Reynolds on his own path to discovering poetry and writing verse. 

Long Way Down “shares themes of many of Reynolds’s other books, which frequently deal with young adults coping with violence, death, and grief. Reynolds has stated that it is his intention to write books that accurately reflect the experiences of Black youth in America but are universal enough to engage readers of any age or ethnic background.”

Long Way Down is offered in standard print, large print, and graphic novel formats to give readers who have different learning styles more than one option. The following titles are helpful for teachers and librarians looking for additional ways to support and engage their students.

Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Waterville, ME: Thorndike Press from Gale, a Cengage Company, 2020.


Gale’s Novels for Students, volume 61, contains a 19-page overview of Long Way Down along with an introduction, author biography, character overview, themes, critical-thinking questions, and classroom activities.

Lee, Michelle, Melissa Sue Hill, and Jason Reynolds. “Long Way Down.” Essay. In Novels for Students. Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Novels, 113–31. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, a Cengage Company, 2019.


Novels in Verse for Teens advises teachers and librarians on how to use novels in verse in functional, hands-on ways with teens. Novels in verse are popular, a practical alternative to classics, and a great way to reach all teens, including marginalized or struggling teens and reluctant readers. This guide shows how to pair books with teens based on their needs, interests, and specific situations. It also suggests activities tied to Common Core and AASL standards to further engage readers.

Krok, Lisa. Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2020.


Novels in Verse for Teens advises teachers and librarians on how to use novels in verse in functional, hands-on ways with teens. Novels in verse are popular, a practical alternative to classics, and a great way to reach all teens, including marginalized or struggling teens and reluctant readers. This guide shows how to pair books with teens based on their needs, interests, and specific situations. It also suggests activities tied to Common Core and AASL standards to further engage readers.

Krok, Lisa. Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2020.


Sparks in the Dark discusses how educators can spark a lifelong love of learning as well as ways to incorporate literacy skills in every subject in engaging ways, empower students and staff to ask and explore tough questions about the world, encourage learners at all levels to choose books that challenge them, and take responsibility to seek and share learning for everyone’s benefit.

Crowder, Travis, and Todd Nesloney. Sparks in the Dark: Lessons, Ideas and Strategies to Illuminate the Reading and Writing Lives in All of Us. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Incorporated, 2018.


Want to push reading levels further? Check out https://www.gale.com/thorndike-striving-reader to learn more about the power of large print.


Meet the Author

Andrea Drouillard

Andrea Drouillard is a sales director for K‒12 and public library markets at Gale. She’s a mom, music lover, lipstick hoarder, gardener, and street art enthusiast who is always happiest by the water.

Follow @AndreaD_EdTech

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