I have the honour today of sharing with you details of a fantastic Kickstarter project that is all about producing great fiction for people with dyslexia. This is the first of a series of posts that I will be sharing across April to tell you all about the project and the people involved, and reviewing some of the books.
Books on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, with specialist publishers like Barrington Stokes and mainstream publishers such as Bloomsbury doing their part. However, there are sadly very few books for adults with Dyslexia in traditional mass market publishing.
Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.
Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.
Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:
“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot. “
This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.
There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.
You can still contribute outside the Kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.
The first of three books that I will be reviewing from the campaign is Anchor Point by Stan Nicholls.
Kye Beven is lacking confidence, and is ruthlessly bullied. Everyone except Dyan Varike, the best archer in the band, believes he is not good enough for the community’s defence. When Kye’s village is menaced by a despotic sorcerer, he reaches for his bow and steps up to the mark and saves his home.
I feel I should kick this off by saying that I do not have dyslexia, and have always been an avid reader. For me, reading is one of the great joys in life, and when I heard about this campaign to help bring this joy to people who might have previously been excluded, I knew I wanted to help spread the word. I must also confess that when I sat down to read the first of the books I had selected to review, I did have some concerns that I would find the story and its language overly simple, and difficult to review as I drew comparisons to the epic fantasy novels I love so much. For that pre-judgement I can offer the sincerest of apologies to Stan Nicholls and Books on the Hill because I was very much mistaken.
Whilst Anchor Point proved only to be a half hour read for me, Williams has created a cast of characters I was deeply invested in and a wonderful underdog hero in Kye to root for. The language is complex and the story is rich with detail and emotion. I am always so impressed by authors who can achieve this in a relatively small number of words, as this is something I really struggle with (in case you couldn’t tell that already from reading my reviews!).
Anchor Point is an absolute treat for fantasy lovers, and I am very much looking forward to reading more by Stan Williams, and discovering what the other authors involved with Books on the Hill have created for this campaign.