The Secret and Simple Literacy Solution Every School Needs


Educators have faced tremendous challenges over the past few years, and these challenges have weighed heavily on staff morale.

Students and educators have suffered significant personal losses from COVID-19. The trauma this caused affected their well-being and, at times, their focus on academics. Absenteeism has been an ongoing problem since schools reopened.

In this context, educators are tasked with overcoming the considerable learning losses that happened during the pandemic. Given these obstacles, it’s no wonder teachers and administrators have never felt so burned out and helpless, or that teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low..

Educators urgently need solutions that can improve student learning outcomes while making their jobs easier, not harder.

The good news is that there is a simple, tech-free solution that can help solve a host of challenges in schools today – from low literacy skills to lack of equity and even meeting the needs of populations. special needs, such as English language learners and students with disabilities.

What is this secret and simple literacy solution that every school can benefit from? The answer might surprise you: it’s as simple as providing young people with large-print books.

Large-print books give educators the gift of simplicity because they don’t require extra effort from teachers. They are backed by research showing clear benefits for students. Additionally, schools can use some of the billions of dollars they receive in federal pandemic aid to purchase large-print books for their classrooms.

Five Key Challenges Large Print Books Solve

In 2019, the highly respected nonprofit research organization Project Tomorrow® launched a study to determine the effectiveness of large-print books. The Project Tomorrow National Study revealed five key areas where large print books can help:

Reading ability

Teachers surveyed by Project Tomorrow overwhelmingly agreed that the two struggling readers and students who read at grade level have benefited from reading large-print books. For instance:

  • 80% said large-print books benefit students who have trouble following or lack confidence in reading.
  • 75% said students who read below grade level demonstrated better comprehension and retention from reading large-print books.
  • 73% said large-print books improved reading fluency for those who read at grade level.
  • One college reported an increase in Lexile reading levels of 2 to 3 times the recommended average growth.

Pleasure of reading

Large-print books not only help students become better readers, but they also make reading more enjoyable for them, allowing them to spend more time reading. Consider these findings from Project Tomorrow’s research:

  • 69% of avid readers said they enjoy reading large-print books more than any other book during the school year.
  • 67% of teachers noted that large print reduced stress and anxiety in students reading below and grade level.
  • High school students reported a 43% reduction in feelings of anxiety about reading when using the large print format.
  • Nearly 60% of college students said they could concentrate better and didn’t lose their place due to distractions when reading large-print books.
  • 54% of students in grades 3-12 said their school reading experiences would be more enjoyable if all books were in large print.

English learning

Project Tomorrow’s research also found that large-print books had a profound effect on the success of English Language Learners (ELLs):

  • 62% of teachers said they learned the English language faster when ELL students read large-print books.
  • 42% of teachers reported improved decoding skills in ELL students who read large-print books.
  • 47% of teachers said ELL students reading large-print books had greater confidence in their reading abilities, felt less anxiety or stress about reading, and spent more time reading.
  • 44% of teachers noticed an increase in ELL student participation in classroom read-aloud activities using large-print books.

special education

Another population that can greatly benefit from reading large-print books is students receiving special education services. Project Tomorrow found:

  • 68% of teachers reported greater engagement in reading activities among special education students.
  • 57% of teachers said special education students had better letter and word recognition from reading large-print books.
  • 59% of teachers noticed that special education students liked to read in large print and were less distracted during long periods of sustained reading.
  • 47% of teachers agreed that overall student fluency in special education was improved through the use of large print.

Student Equity

Equity Infographic

Large-print materials offer many benefits to readers who do not read at an academic level. Adding large-print books is an important step toward maintaining a collection focused on equitable access for all students.

Adding large-print materials goes beyond supporting students who dislike reading or avid readers who are still working on their reading skills. Large-print books can be enjoyed by students of all reading levels, from avid readers and students with eyestrain, to English learners and young adults who want to improve their literacy skills.

Access to large print books is an easy and affordable way to increase equity; large print is an impactful format for all readers.

“The longer the words, the more engaged you are in reading it.”

Nicole Ferroli, a seventh-grade ELA teacher at O’Neill Middle School in Downers Grove, Illinois, had never had experience with large-print books. When the school librarian brought them to her attention, she was initially hesitant to try them.

“I thought the large print was for struggling readers,” Ferroli said.. However, she gave her students the opportunity to read a large-print book during a unit on historical fiction.

At the end of this unit, “I realized that readers at all levels of my class love large print,” observed Ferroli.

The next book his class read was The foreigners by SE Hinton. Even though all the students were reading the same text, they could choose whether they wanted to read in large print or in regular print.

“I was shocked at the number of students who chose to read the large print text rather than the regular block print text,” Ferroli said. “It was almost half and half.”

She added: ‘Large print has essentially become part of our classroom library, and it’s been incredibly powerful for our students to be able to see the titles they want to read, but now in a format they know is there. will help them be successful.”

An eighth-grader at O’Neill Middle School said large-print books are “less intimidating” than small-print materials. “The bigger the words, the more engaged you are in reading them,” she noted..

A simple way to have a big impact

Large-print books are a simple, technology-free way to make a big difference in the literacy skills of a wide range of students. And because they represent an evidence-based intervention supported by Level 2 and Level 3 research.As defined by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools can use federal grant money to purchase large-print materials, including the $190 billion available in emergency funding for elementary schools and secondary (ESSER).

Discover over 1,000 large-print titles supporting standards-based curriculum in the most recent Thorndike Press catalog. Thorndike Press, of Gale, part of the Cengage Group, is the leading publisher of large-print books for K-12 school systems. Their catalog of large-print books grows every month with new high-interest fiction and non-fiction books, including contemporary classics, award-winning and bestsellers.

For more information on how educators and students can benefit from using large print materials in the classroom, download the free white paper, Advancing Literacy with Large Print.

For help with ESSER funding, access practical resources developed by Project Tomorrow.

Large print books from Thorndike Press are about the same size or smaller than standard print editions.

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