Make Reading More Accessible on National Book Lovers Day

6 min read

| By Gale Staff |

August 9th is National Book Lovers Day, a day to celebrate the love of reading. How can you help more people find joy in reading? Connect them to large print books.

While large print is typically associated with adults with visual impairments, it can also benefit struggling youth readers, adults who aren’t motivated to read, and anyone who needs a break from digital devices. With a larger font size and more space between lines and words, large print books are perfect for people who have difficulty reading standard-sized print, or for people who simply want to relax and enjoy a book without straining their eyes.

Reading is for everyone, and promoting large print books on National Book Lovers Day is an excellent way to share more inclusive reading options.

Large print books can enhance reading comprehension. They make reading more comfortable and enjoyable, which can boost understanding and help people read for longer periods. Not to mention, reading large print books can simply be more relaxing.

People have busy, stressful, and eventful lives. Reading is an opportunity that allows people to escape from the comfort of home without staring at a screen. Large print books have fewer words per page, so readers can flip pages faster. This makes readers feel like they are progressing more, keeping their attention longer.

Large print books are also effective literacy tools. The large text and added space between words can help readers more easily recognize letters, slow down their reading, and keep their attention longer. Large print books have been proven to help students improve their reading skills, including decoding, fluency, tracking, and comprehension.

In support of collection equity, many librarians have already implemented changes in their collections to include more large print books. Jill Haile, collection development manager at Jacksonville Public Library system, said, “It’s about curating collections that cross formats. And large print is an important component of this strategy.”

Monique Franklin, an adult collection development coordinator at Fort Bend County Libraries, emphasizes the importance of meeting community needs. “One of our branches with high circulation is very much a community library,” Franklin says. “The area has a lot of families, is near high schools, shopping… there is a very diverse community there. So, all ages, all cultures [in that community] have created a high demand for a large print.”

A library with a healthy large print collection brings a more accessible reading option to better serve its diverse community.

Common misconceptions of large print books are that they are designed for older people, people with poor eyesight, or people who struggle with reading. In fact, large print text is just one of many ways that any reader can personalize their reading experience.

“Large print is for anybody,” Franklin says. “We don’t put ages on it. We don’t tell anybody, ‘Oh, you might like this collection better’ because of how we view them. It’s an important collection, and it’s growing.”

In today’s world, consumers have access to all types of media and devices that they can easily customize to fit their needs. Text font, format, type, color, and brightness on devices can be changed in an instant. Offering more formats in your library’s book collection is another way to bring readers options for greater accessibility.

Brenna Shanks, a selection librarian for the King County Library System, said, “We’re here to find any tool we can offer to try to raise literacy across our communities. We all have devices that let us change the font. I think that teens are so used to consuming material in a variety of formats that it’s possible teens won’t carry that stigma [that comes with large print], especially now that Thorndike Press is making an effort to produce titles that are identical in terms of cover art and presentation.”

Large print books allow everyone to enjoy reading no matter their age, reading level, or disability, whether that person is picking up a book for the first time or is a veteran reader looking for a change.

Most libraries have sections dedicated to adult large print books, but the format is just as beneficial for young readers. A nationwide reading assessment revealed that almost two-thirds of 4th and 8th graders are not reading at grade level.1 Many striving readers are affected by vision impairments, dyslexia, ADHD, or other learning differences that make reading difficult. They may also lack confidence, motivation, or interest in reading.

A large print study found 42% of middle school students correlated schoolwork reading with stress before being introduced to large print. After experiencing large print in the classroom, this number dropped to 24% of students.2

This study also revealed a range of benefits from introducing students to large print.

  • 76% of below-grade-level readers had better retention with large print.
  • 73% of at-grade-level readers spent more time reading with large print.
  • 67% of students reported they experienced less anxiety about reading with large print.

It’s not uncommon for children or teens struggling with reading to become discouraged, giving up on the process altogether. However, large print books can take away some of the frustrations struggling readers feel, increasing engagement and making reading more enjoyable.

“Large print is a transitional material for anyone who’s… struggling with reading,” Shanks says. “Equity is so often economic and related to resources and what you have access to. As many things as we can give people access to helps equity.”

One of the challenges that libraries face is how to increase the awareness of large print books among young readers, adults, teachers, and librarians. Many people may not know that large print books exist, or they may have misconceptions about them.

Here are some strategies to help promote large print in your library:

  • Create attractive and accessible large print displays.
  • Promote large print books through various forms of media like newsletters, flyers, posters, and bookmarks.
  • Provide social events like book talks, book clubs, and reading challenges that feature large print books.
  • Educate parents, teachers, and librarians about the benefits of large print books for young readers.
  • Collaborate with schools and community organizations to provide large print books to young readers who need them.

You also don’t have to be a librarian to advocate for large print books—anyone can take steps to help spread awareness. Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk to your library about increasing the size of their large print collection.
  • Ask your local bookstore to carry a wider selection of large print books.
  • Promote large print books and their benefits on social media.
  • Write a letter to your local newspaper about the importance of large print books.

As a leading large print publisher, Thorndike Press helps people of all ages enjoy reading. Expertly curated monthly releases make diverse, award-winning, up-and-coming, and bestselling titles more accessible. Learn more about what Thorndike Press is doing to increase large print book collections across the nation, and start browsing the large print collection today!

1. National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation’s Report Card 2017, July 2019.
2. “Advancing Literacy with Large Print,” Project Tomorrow® and Thorndike Press, March 2020.

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