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What is a Big Book?

Big Books are the new phenomenon in children's publishing. You've probably seen them mentioned in catalogues and contracts. You may even have seen them in your local bookshop but, if you haven't been in a primary school recently, you're probably wondering why they've suddenly become so important.

The answer is the Literacy Hour and its emphasis on whole class teaching and shared reading. Each class in primary schools now spends part of each day looking at a book together but it's difficult for thirty children and a teacher to simultaneously see one of ordinary size. Hence the popularity of the large format Big Book designed to let everyone see well enough to join in.

A good Big Book can be the basis of a brilliant lesson which allows all the children to enjoy the text, sentence and word level, just as the Literacy Framework requires. However merely enlarging an existing book isn't always enough. I've seen several where the enlarged text is still too small to be read by those at the back of the group who, as a result, miss the point of the lesson, get bored and start to mess about.

If one of your books is going to be produced as a Big Book, you have reason to celebrate. It's good to think of so many children enjoying your words and the resulting increase in your royalties is very welcome. But if you are allowed any input at the design stage, try to make sure the text is big enough. Otherwise, teachers will find it difficult to use your book successfully and this in turn will affect your sales.

                                                                      Diana Kimpton

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