Saturday, September 18, 2010

Good Reads for Everyone

Recently Canadian news outlets reported a story predicting that adults with low literacy levels could increase by 25% in the next 2 decades. For avid readers, it is sometimes hard to put yourself in the shoes of a fellow Canadian who can't, or doesn't like to, read.

However, the two factors - low reading skills and low interest in reading - sometimes go hand in hand. If you're an adult who has lower level literacy skills, a novel, no matter how compelling the story, may simply be too frustrating to enjoy. And traditionally, books written at lower literacy levels have either been geared to children, too text-booky, or just not that compelling: not the sort of thing that would draw in someone even if they were looking to make reading a part of their lives.

Recognizing this gap, a number of publishers have begun putting out titles to try and reach these readers. Starting in the UK a few years ago, a series of books under the banner of Quick Reads were released. The books are original novels by well known authors, written at the grade 3 to 5 level. Authors who have participated include Ian Rankin, Maeve Binchy, Val McDermid and Andy McNab. In Ireland, a similar project was started up as part of the Open Door Series, and includes books by Roddy Doyle, Cecelia Ahern and others.

Following the success of both of those programs - in reaching, I might add both the intended audience and also established fans of the authors who were eager to read anything new by their favourite writers - Canadian publishers followed suit. So far, two series have been started up (under the names Good Reads and Rapid Reads) with the titles included being penned by up-and-coming and well established Canadian authors including Louise Penny, Zoe Whittall, Rabindranath Maharaj and Nova Scotian author William Kowalski.

If you know a reluctant reader who you think might be interested in one of these titles - or if you're looking for a quick, compelling read for the weekend - check out any of these series from the library.

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