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Large Print Books Spark Reading Confidence and Comprehension


Dr. Julie A. Evans

CEO, Project Tomorrow

Strong reading skills are essential for success in school and life. Yet reading is often a challenging and frustrating experience for many of our nation’s children. It’s important that educators and parents find new ways to make reading more meaningful for children and support striving readers.

With this goal in mind, Project Tomorrow® , a national education nonprofit organization, conducted a nationwide study on behalf of Thorndike Press from Gale, a Cengage company, investigating the impact of students reading large print-formatted books.

Our findings indicate text size makes a big difference. Results show students in grades 3-12 who read large print books developed stronger reading skills, felt more comfortable reading and adopted new mindsets about reading. This was especially true for striving readers in our study.

Newfound confidence

“I liked that the larger size font seemed much more interesting,” said an eighth grade study participant from Texas. “When you look at a billboard, the first thing you see is the larger print. When you look at a book that has all large print, it seems like it’s calling to you.” 

We provided students with large print versions of popular book titles, including “The Outsiders” and “I am Malala.” Teachers incorporated the large print versions into regular instructional practices. 

Every teacher knows there are some students who just don’t enjoy schoolwork reading. Motivating those students to read can be a challenge. 

An extremely significant finding from the study was that most of these reluctant readers said they enjoyed reading a large print book more than any other books during the school year. Some of these students even told us that the large print books contained more details than traditional books. This shows that, although the content remains the same, text size impacts the readability of books — and student engagement.

For children who experience anxiety while reading during class, large print text can be a gamechanger. Sixty-seven percent of teachers involved in our study noted that large print text reduced stress and anxiety in students reading below and at grade level. Without the stress of trying to not lose their place when reading, students are able to engage in deeper thinking about the book’s themes and lessons. 

Not your grandparents’ large print

“I honestly believe that if teachers and students don’t know about the awesomeness that is large print text, it’s because they haven’t had any experiences with it just yet,” a reading and language arts teacher from Illinois said. “It’s incredibly important for people to know that large print books are available and that ALL people can benefit from reading them.” 

The perception that large print books are only for older adults is inaccurate. Fifty-four percent of students said that school reading experiences would be more enjoyable if all books were large print. 

Today’s students value the importance of developing their skills for success in college, career, and life, and they recognize the need for strong reading skills. Large print removes stressful obstacles, such as being easily distracted or feeling overwhelmed by too much text on one page. This leaves readers with more time and ability to concentrate.

Fifty-five percent of student participants said they’d like to be able to read more large print books for school. Including large print books in classroom collections and the school library promotes greater access to the books, and provides an additional resource for students to hone their reading skills.

Whether they are used at home or in school, large print books are a low-cost, easy-to-use literacy solution. Our research shows that when students have access to large print materials, their comprehension levels and mindsets improve. 

For the full results from this study, visit gale.com/thorndikebooks.

Dr. Julie A. Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow, [email protected]

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