While large-print books are typically associated with older readers or people with visual disabilities, Thorndike Press manager of acquisitions Bonnie Simcock says the appeal of large-print books is much broader than many people realize. “It’s finding a younger audience, and it is proven to support English-language learners, below-grade-level readers, and anyone whose eyes need a break from digital screens,” she says.
Thorndike Press publishes a vast library of large-print titles for all ages across multiple genres. In addition to the 1,100 adult large-print titles Thorndike publishes annually, it currently has more than 1,000 juvenile and YA large-print books—a list that is steadily growing to meet the needs of developing readers.
Currently, authors on the children’s list include Kwame Alexander, Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Jason Reynolds, and Angie Thomas. Popular series for kids include Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Dork Diaries, and Spy School. Thorndike acquisitions editors routinely seek out and evaluate book submissions such as these from major publishers while also monitoring reviews, awards, bestseller lists, and book club picks. Thorndike’s youth large-print titles feature original cover art, are unabridged, and aren’t labeled as large print on the cover or spine. As a result, Thorndike children’s and YA books are virtually indistinguishable from standard-print editions—which is crucial for readers who might be self-conscious about their skill levels.
The benefits of large print are innumerable and backed by a recent national study conducted with Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit education organization. According to the study, by virtue of being more legible, large print can specifically help with word decoding and tracking, which facilitates concentration, reading enjoyment, and comprehension overall. In the Project Tomorrow study, 73% of readers in grades three through 12 reported that they spent more time reading when provided with large-print materials, and 43% reported that their anxiety surrounding reading was reduced by reading large print. Fewer words per page means readers can feel gratified by turning pages more quickly, which results in feelings of pride and enjoyment.
Thorndike Press books feature wider margins and line spacing than traditional formats, and the use of serif fonts and dark ink helps to increase legibility. “Youth large-print books make the process of visualizing information easier for readers,” Simcock says, “which can lead to reading more often and for longer periods of time.”
Large print is also beneficial because of its simplicity and accessibility. Thorndike editors routinely reach out to librarians and educators to determine the needs of student body populations. For English-language learners, for example, 62% of the students studied found greater success by reading large print. “Large-print books support collection equity,” Simcock says. And Thorndike makes discoverability easy. Titles can be searched by subject, theme, and interest.
Public libraries can automatically receive a curated collection of large-print titles monthly or seasonally through subscription plans. Simcock’s message is simple. “Get a youth large-print edition in your hands, especially if you haven’t seen the format in a while,” she says. “These aren’t the heavy tomes of yesteryear. Once you introduce young readers to large print, those titles won’t sit on the shelf.”
Thorndike is committed to acquiring books that enrich, challenge, and entice readers of all ages and backgrounds. To ensure that its library remains expansive and relevant to readers, Thorndike is adding at least four titles a month that represent Black authors and two titles a month that represent Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and Latinx/Hispanic authors and stories. Also upcoming is a collection of young adult fiction books in Spanish. “We feature authors and protagonists of traditionally underrepresented groups and content, covering themes from neurodiversity and body positivity to various socioeconomic backgrounds,” Simcock says. “Large print is for everyone and we’re continuously working to ensure we provide equity in content to match the equitable format.”