Creating a Reader by Rachel Hamilton

I am slightly addicted to Facebook and one thing I particularly love is its trick of telling you what happened ‘On This Day’ last year, or the year before or a gazillion years ago. I like the flashback to things I’d forgotten, and I like the reminder of how much things have changed.

Recently, a link popped up to a blog post my daughter wrote three years ago when she was ten-years-old. It was done at a time when she was struggling to get to grips with the world of books. She adored stories, loved the idea of being a reader and always carried books around with her; but she found it difficult to process the printed page.

I ran a blogging site back then called ‘Book Walrus’, and I asked her to think about what would make books easier for her to read. She worked really hard and created this blog post:

Posted by walrus on Jan 12, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment


This blog post is written by Jodie

Hello, my name is Jodie and I’m 10. I like reading, but sometimes I find it hard to concentrate on books. Book Walrus asked me to write a note telling authors and publishers about the things that make books more appealing to someone like me:

1) A Clear Layout: 

I think some writers/publishers try to save money on printing their books by not using enough pages. DON’T DO THAT. It means the writing is too small and I can’t read it without screwing up my eyes and squinting a lot. Bye bye book.

A good book has big words, lots of space between the lines and a nice font where the letters are easy to tell apart from each other.

My mum sometimes gets me books from Barrington Stoke, which is a publisher that makes books for dyslexic readers. I’m not dyslexic but these books are good because the colour of their pages is a bit different which makes it much easier to read the words on them.

jodie-2 2) Lots of talking

I like to hear what characters say to each other. It makes me feel like I know them better. And it’s easier to read conversations than lots of long descriptions. It even looks nice! If I turn a page and there is lots of dialogue I feel happier about reading it because it won’t make my head ache like some reading does.

jodie-33) Shortness

I like books that are short because it takes so long to finish big books that I often forget what happened at the beginning by the time I get to the end.

I like chapters that are short, because then I can read a whole chapter before I put my book down and I can remember where I was when I pick it up again.

I like sentences that are short, so you don’t have to keep re-reading them over and over to work out what the writer means.

I like words that are short, because it interrupts the story when I have to go and find out what words mean.


4) Reminders of what’s going on

I think some writers/publishers think everyone can read their book in a day. NO!  NO! NO!  I can’t usually do that. So, it helps if there are reminders of who people are, or what they were talking about the last time I saw them, or why they are doing the things they are doing. Then, when I pick the book up again I don’t have to keep flicking back to remember.

This is why I like pictures. Because if I have to look back, I get reminded what is going on from the picture.


5) Interesting topics

A lot of short books are for smaller kids so characters are very young and the stories don’t interest me. Older kids like short books too, so they should include things for us. I like scary books with vampires in, but they usually appear in longer books.

My favourite book I have reviewed was ‘Love Bites’ by Jo Cotterill because it has all the things I said above (short, interesting, great pictures, good layout) and it was about vampires. Perfect!



The reason I found this post so interesting to re-read is that Jodie’s efforts paid off. After struggling with reading and with ‘English’ for the whole of primary school, something suddenly clicked in her head and she started to get the kind of pleasure from books she’d always dreamed of. Nowadays, she’s always got her head in a novel and has recently started vlogging about books she’s reading. Here are her two latest reviews:




I’m her mum, so of course I think her videos are brilliant. But I’m particularly proud because I know how far she’s come. Hooray for bookworms. Especially the ones who’ve had to work hard to get there.




About the blogger:


Rachel is a graduate of both Oxford University and Cambridge University and has put her education to good use by working in an ad age by working in an ad agency, a secondary school, a building site and a men’s prison. Her interests are books, films, stand-up comedy and cake, and she loves to make people laugh, especially when it’s intentional rather than accidental.


Her books include the Unicorn in New York series (OUP), The Case of the Exploding Brains, and The Case of the Exploding Loo (Simon & Schuster), which won the Worcestershire Awesomest Book Award and the Ossett Riveting Read Award

Twitter: RachelLHamilton

Facebook: RachelHamiltonAuthor

Website: http://www.rachel-hamilton.com

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