In August, we were proud to publish a gorgeous new super-readable edition of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Our aim, as ever, was to reach more readers, this time by opening up a classic text to those with dyslexia, visual stress or other issues that affect an individual’s ability to cope with print.
So what makes a book more accessible?
For readers with poor vision, large print can really help open up the written word, and our edition of Of Mice and Men falls within the definition of large print, so hopefully it will be helpful to those who have compromised eyesight.
For readers with dyslexia, poor visual processing or other issues, however, large print in itself doesn’t necessarily help. For these readers the space between words and letters is also important – without a little additional space, they may perceive words and letters as blocks or blurs and struggle to make out what these say. Our edition of Of Mice and Men uses increased character spacing to keep things nice and clear. Also to help with visual perception, we have used very thick paper stock to help ensure the ‘ghost’ of the words on the reverse of each page doesn’t show through and confuse the eye.
Right there in black and white… or not
For readers with visual stress, scotopic sensitivity or Irlen’s syndrome, the contrast between black and white can be difficult. Rather than reading words easily, these readers may feel physical pain, may have to narrow their eyes against glare, or may perceive that words and letters move or dance on the page. For this reason we have printed a yellow Pantone® under the text of Of Mice and Men. This reduces the contrast and the issue of glare. The book may still be used with coloured filters or glasses by readers who find these helpful.
A shapely font
Our ‘Barrington Stoke Roman’ typeface has been specifically designed to be easy to read with a unique, exaggerated shape for every letter. This sets it apart from many other common typefaces, where many letters are mirrors of other letters, or certain letter combinations mimic other single letters.
Another way in
As our good friend, the author Vivian French says, when the door is locked sometimes it’s worth trying the window. If Of Mice and Men is too much for your young readers, Anne Cassidy has written a brilliant modern retelling in Thicker than Water. For some young readers, the retelling will help familiarise them with characters and themes and prepare them to tackle the Steinbeck original. It’s also, quite simply, a great read in its own right.
The primary rights holder of Of Mice and Men in the UK is Penguin Random House. Our thanks to PRH, to the Steinbeck Estate and to the Curtis Brown literary agency for their support in helping us make this wonderful text accessible to more readers.