Archives for category: Barrington Stoke

Saturday the 9th of July at 3pm Waterstones, Finchley Road O2, Finchley Road NW3 6LU


I don’t usually mention Waterstones on my blog – a fact confirmed by WordPress, which has just marked it as a spelling mistake.

I have, however, been concerned about children’s reading since I started selling books and as you may or may not be aware I often advise customers in my branch of Waterstones about books that may be of interest.

In particular I am often asked about books for children and teenagers, who have never come across a book that they have enjoyed; many of whom have never finished one. I also get asked for suggestions for readers with dyslexia.

I often start with discussing interests and what the potential readers enjoy doing. I try and find out if they just find the idea boring, and confirm to myself that there are no underlying problems apart from everyone getting at them to read ‘just one book’.

I talk to them about the books they want to read, against those that everyone says they should. I often temper the needs of the parent, (by now feeling left out and want to contribute), and who want their child to be reading the classics, preferably Homer’s Odyssey, with the idea of achieving the result of having the child read a book and enjoy it first…before we get on to James Joyce and his Finnegans Wake.

Often I will suggest thin books, of a subject matter that they think they might enjoy. Sometimes volumes that are supposed to be for younger readers and I will often suggest Barrington Stoke books.


This publisher produces books that are thin, and well written. They are also concerned with ensuring that they have good plots and what is more they are designed to make the actual process of reading a little easier. A particularly useful element of their philosophy for those with dyslexia.

On Saturday the 9th of July at 3pm at my branch (Waterstones, Finchley Road O2, Finchley Road NW3 6LU) we are having a representative from the publisher come to talk to anyone interested about Barrington Stoke books. She will also be bringing a selection of books with her for customers to purchase.

This is I think, almost a unique event. I have never heard of them sending someone before to a Waterstones to do this, and it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Amazingly, not only are they coming with books and a willingness to take up their time, they are also coming with cake – which I thought was a marvellous contribution.chocolate_cupcakes_with_raspberry_buttercream

Do come to this – it is for me rather special. I only started to read when I was eight. Perhaps things would have been different if someone had put a volume like these into my hands.

Waterstones at Finchley Road is very near Finchley Road tube station (just turn left and walk up to the O2 Centre), on the Metropolitan Line. You can also reach us from the over ground – Finchley and Frognal Station is just up the road (turn right out of the station and walk down to the O2 Centre).


There is also a large car park behind the centre, run by Sainsbury’s – for which there is a charge (though if you are there for under 2 hours you can visit for free if you spend £10 in their store). If coming towards London, the store is on the right hand side of Finchley Road, and the turning is before the centre, if coming from London, it is on your left and the turn for the car park is just after.

Do come – it would be lovely to see you!


Barrington Stoke is a publisher of thin octavo volumes specifically designed to help young people who have dyslexia to gain a love of reading. The books are written by authors who are already known in the publishing world, and include people like Michael Morpurgo, Philip Reeve, David Almond, Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Kevin Brooks, and Meg Rosoff to name just a very few.

Not only are the books slim, they are printed on off white paper, which prevents glare, and the typeface is such as to make it easy to read. They edit the text too so that as much as possible there is a reduced likelihood of words of a similar type being used in the same paragraph.

Lastly, (and possibly more importantly), the subject matter and plots are interesting and they seem to try to cover as many interests as possible.

To that end they have two indicators on the books – an Interest Age and a Reading Age – usually noted just beside the bar code.


The Interest Age, is the age of the reader – after all someone aged 5-8 is probably not going to be interested in something written for a teenager or young adult. The reverse is also true. So the Interest Age gives an indication of the type of age group for which the book has been written.

The Reading Age, however, gives an indication of the reading ability. So you may have someone who has an Interest Age of 12 or 13, but a Reading age of 7 or 8 and with the help of the codes on the back of the books you can fine tune the books that are purchased for them – so that they are both interesting and are suitable for their ability.

I am regularly astounded by the number of parents’, carers and others who are looking after young readers with dyslexia who are not made aware of this publisher. There is nothing like actually enjoying and finishing a book to encourage you to try another.

I am also beginning to suggest these books for some of my customers who have children who are just not interested at all. Not necessarily because they have dyslexia, but just because they haven’t experienced the joy of really enjoying a book and are becoming even more unwilling to try as they begin to come under pressure from their school and adults around them to at least ‘…finish one book!’

So I thought I would publish a post about it, to make people aware of this wonderful and thoughtful publisher.

The Internet site for Barrington Stoke is and is easily navigable – do take a look at the site, it may well be the start of a love affair with reading, and I sometimes think there is nothing quite like the pleasure of reading a good book.

Which on consideration, is quite astonishing.

I started to read aged 8, but that’s another story….