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We have collated what we think are some of the best Super-Readable titles all of which are also dyslexia friendly for interest age 7+. They are all specifically written to help readers who have visual stress and for dyslexic readers to enjoy.
The grounds of a country house in the summer months of 1914 provide the setting for Emma Carroll’s spooky novella and she uses it to explore themes of growing understanding and the awful, looming threat of war. Brought together after an accident puts him temporarily into a wheelchair requiring someone to push it, Leo and Fran form an upstairs-downstairs friendship. Fran is unsettled by a series of strange, seemingly supernatural coincidences that seem to be warnings of things to come, while Leo is obsessed by events in Europe and what they may lead to. Their different worries merge in a deliciously spooky scene where the two young people encounter the ghosts of an Anglo-Saxon army, something they interpret as a warning of what is to come; sure enough, the story concludes with the announcement of World War I. Despite a sense of foreboding, we know that their friendship will endure and feel certain that, whatever happens, the future will hold good things for both. Emma Carroll is one of our foremost authors of historical fiction for children and creates a tangible sense of the tension of those summer months as well as an appealing, believable set of characters. Published by Barrington Stoke, the book is accessible to all readers, including those with dyslexia, and highly recommended.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | November 2020 Book of the Month | Tom McLaughlin’s new story stars a royal family, but as you’ve never imagined them before! When hapless Bertie, the Queen’s brother, gambles away their entire estate on a game of Happy Families, the whole family are turfed out. It seems no-one is particularly sorry to see them go either, they’ve been stuck-up, selfish and entitled. Life in their new home in King Street, Windsor takes some getting used to, but mixing with the hoi-polloi, aka their new neighbours, teaches the former royals to be much nicer people (as well as giving them a taste for Pot Noodle). It’s delightfully silly and very funny, but actually full of useful life lessons too. Published by Barrington Stoke, this is accessible to all readers including those reluctant, struggling or dyslexic.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Blue Peter Book Award winner Vashti Hardy joins the excellent Barrington Stoke list with this new book and concisely delivers an exciting sci-fi adventure in just 100 pages. 13-year-old Grace is frustrated that as the youngest member of her family she’s not allowed to run solo missions for their magical warden operation, which protects the people of Moreland. So when the alarm bell rings and she’s the only one in the office, she answers the call anyway, jumping into their transporter with her companion, clockwork raven Watson, and climbing out into what turns out to be some treacherous goings on. Will Grace need rescuing by her family, or will it be the other way round? It’s a great bit of adventure, with recognisable characters and family relationships and a vividly drawn other-world. More please!
Interest Age 5+ Reading Age 5 | Sally Gardner has a unique imagination and a special ability to create fresh, sparkling fairy tales for today. This new series introduces us to the utterly delightful little Tindims who, like the Borrowers, make their home out of things we humans – or Long Legs as they know us – throw away. ‘Rubbish today is treasure tomorrow’ is their motto, though from their floating home of Rubbish Island, they do worry just how many plastic bottles they can recycle. In this episode they are preparing for their Brightsea Festival, when Ethel B Dina is swept away. They save her of course – the Tindims are always going to find their happy endings. Children will love them and their recycled world, and these stories are beautifully accessible and perfectly illustrated by Lydia Corry. Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | There’s a very high level of cuteness in this book, in the shape of Noodle, the excitable but lovable little dog who becomes a special member of Wigley Primary. The children of Mr Reed’s class can hardly believe their luck when he’s introduced and his exploits certainly liven up the school day, not to mention their trip to the seaside. It’s not just that Doodle brings fun and silliness though, his presence helps Lou feel more confident, and brings all the children of the class together. Jonathan Meres clearly understands children as well as he understands dogs (Noodle is based on his own dog), and young readers will very much enjoy sharing Noodle’s adventures. Published by dyslexia specialists Barrington Stoke this is super readable and Noodle will be everyone’s friend.
August 2020 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Laura Dockrill packs a really big story into this compact little book and though she tackles some big issues too, she keeps them specific to her set of characters, so that even quite young readers will understand. Sequin’s mum is a dressmaker, sewing gowns and fabulous outfits for the stars. She never takes any credit though, preferring to stay in the background and in fact, she’s literally hiding herself away in the family’s flat at the top of a tower block. When Sequin does a school presentation about her mum, no-one believes her. It makes Sequin angry with her mum, but then a terrible danger threatens them and they both have to face their real fears. It’s a story that readers will absolutely love, with a twist that they’ll want to return to again and again. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
May 2020 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | It’s exactly fifty years since the infamous Apollo 13 space mission took off for the moon. For any young person who doesn’t know what happened – and indeed for those that do too – David Long’s retelling will keep them on the edge of their seats, awed by the challenges of space travel, and by the ingenuity and determination of those who work in it. Survival in Space describes with just the right level of detail, how a broken electrical wire led to the explosion that left astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise stranded 200,000 miles from home, and how they and the team on earth worked to engineer their eventual successful return. In Barrington Stoke style, this is accessible to all readers, including those with dyslexia, but is without any trace of simplification. David Long has a great track record in non-fiction and this will be another firm favourite. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Tony Bradman’s gripping novella about a (bad) day in the life of a boy caring for his mum is truly touching, and especially great for reluctant readers – the concise, considered storytelling holds attention, and the short chapters are perfect for encouraging readers to keep going, or take a break, as they require. Jayden’s Mum hasn’t been herself since losing her job at the supermarket. “Maybe Mum would do the washing today,” he wonders before school one morning. “They really needed some shopping as well – the fridge was almost empty.” With Mum still in bed, Jayden gets little sister Madison ready for school, all the while worrying about what they’ll do when there’s no money at all, what they’ll eat for dinner now the cupboards are bare. Things get even worse at school when his best friend tells him to “go away...We’re not friends anymore.” Meanwhile, Jayden’s new supply teacher isn’t having a good day either: “She’d wanted to teach kids, but she had also wanted to make a difference to their lives. Yet things had changed, and over the last few years she had seemed to spend all her time filling out forms... And that made her feel cross and sad.” And now she’s here in Jayden’s school feeling lost, wondering whether she should be a teacher at all. Seeing Jayden look so sad pains her heart and then, when his sadness turns to anger and erupts like an angry volcano, Miss Wilson helps him see light at the end of his dark tunnel. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
February 2020 Book of the Month | Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | This little story sparkles with magic and fun. It starts on Hallowe’en when friends Jessie and Ali find something very unexpected in their treat bucket – a little kitten. What’s even more surprising, the kitten is magic and can talk. They take the perfectly named Magicat home and all sorts of adventures follow – sheds are turned into treehouses, pancakes are cooked (almost) and the bully next door is put in his place. It’s all made even more exciting because Magicat isn’t quite as expert at the magic thing as he’d have you believe and some of the spells go delightfully wrong. Purrfect for newly confident readers as well as for those who are reluctant or dyslexic. Let’s hope there are more adventures to come for Magicat and his friends. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Nothing is what it seems in Alex Bell’s spritely, spooky novella that sees a girl figure out the sinister secrets of a toy factory. An atmosphere of underlying mystery is keenly evoked from the off: “The children of Cherryville all knew the factory was an evil place. Something awful had happened inside five years ago. It was something kids still whispered about in the playground and used to frighten each other at sleepovers.” And in the way of all creepy rumours, “None of the children in the town knew the truth for sure. They just knew that they should stay away from that factory.” Unfortunately for Tess, she and her younger siblings are forced to work in the factory when its reopening ominously coincides with her family’s farm falling on hard times. With its eccentric Willy Wonka-esque owner mysteriously only employing under twelve-year-olds, what else can they do? Inside the factory, it’s not long before all manner of terrifying events unfold, and all creepy fingers point to the teddy bears being behind them. Though short in length, this is big in impact: how’s this for an evocative description: “And the smell of damp gave way to the scent of goblin, which was something like black pepper and toffee apples mixed up together”? The story sprints to tense end, with a final twist in the tale that would give Roald Dahl a run for his money. And, being published by Barrington Stoke, it’s written and designed with reluctant and dyslexic readers in mind. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award 2020 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020, Best Story category | July 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2019 | A beautifully told, deeply moving story about how a boy finds a special way of remembering his soldier father. When Owen’s father dies fighting in Syria he finds himself caring for his mum who isn’t coping well. School becomes a struggle as he doesn’t want to tell anyone but he finds comfort and refuge in the local memorial garden when there is a crumbing statue as a memorial to those who died in the First World War. When the council decide to remodel the garden and remove the statue Owen knows that he must take dramatic action. And fast. Luckily, he gets the chance to write a poem for the opening of his school’s new library. Owen’s poem captures the importance of remembering while his presentation of it and the effect it has on the council brings him resolution. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+ Lisa Thompson, said of her Blue Peter nomination: “To have a book nominated for an award is wonderful, but to have a book in the final three of the Blue Peter Book Award is an absolute honour! I was an avid Blue Peter viewer as a child, and I am so delighted to see Owen and the Soldier included in the short list. It's so exciting!”
Interest Age 5-8 | Everyone knows that footballers are super-superstitious and when things suddenly start going wrong for the Saints, they decide their team is under a curse. The question is, what can they do to lift it? Stanley is the only one of them who really understands that lucky strips and garlic down their socks won’t get them winning again – only confidence and determination will do that. It’s up to him to change the team’s outlook. The action flows, both on the pitch and in the dressing room, and the story feels as real and authentic as a pair of muddy football boots. Steve May’s illustrations are bang on and in Barrington Stoke style, this is accessible even to reluctant or dyslexic readers. A winner!
There’s all the fun of the circus in Alexander McCall Smith’s new series, and a satisfying bit of junior sleuthing. Young Billy, Fern and Joe are performers in their family circus, but there’s a bit of Sherlock Holmes about them too: as their friend Mr Birdcage points out, they’re clever, and they like helping people. So when they notice a sad boy in the audience and find out his granny has gone missing, they set about finding her, using some of their circus skills in the process. Readers will be delighted to know that the circus’s troupe of dog stars play a part as well. It’s a lovely story and as ever filled with the all-embracing sense of kindness and integrity that is characteristic of McCall Smith’s writing.
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