Orca introduces new Ultra-Readable books to reach more readers

Orca Book Publishers is introducing a new Ultra-Readable format for their bestselling lines of high interest, low reading level (hi-lo) books aimed at striving readers. 

All of Orca’s new hi-lo books are now being published in this format, which is designed to be more appealing to a wider range of reading levels and abilities, including readers with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties. With more than 200 hi-lo books on its list, Orca will now be reprinting all hi-lo titles in this format.

Ultra-Readable books have a larger trim size, a more readable font, and are printed on cream paper to minimize contrast, allowing readers to focus more easily on the text. 

Mere Joyce, the author of one of Orca’s first new Ultra-Readable books, Jelly Roll, experienced challenges with reading as a child herself, which she discusses in a video introducing the format. 

“Not only could long or overly complicated passages be hard for me to process, but little things like low-quality paper, crowded text, and even things as simple as not having every page numbered, would get me stuck, and make the process of reading exhausting and frustrating,” she explains.

“So I love the Ultra-Readable format, because it not only addresses striving readers in its content but also in those little things in the layout and design as well.”

All of Orca’s hi-lo novels are also available in ebook formats, and in response to COVID-19, we are now offering digital subscriptions which allow classrooms to access our collections of multiple hi-lo titles.

Reaching a broader audience of striving readers has been one of Orca’s goals since the launch of the first hi-lo series, the Orca Soundings, in 2002. These books covered a range of gritty, issues-driven stories and found their mark with teen readers who struggled with reading.

The Orca Soundings series for high-schoolers has since grown to nearly 150 titles in print. A second line of hi-lo books, the Orca Currents, is geared towards younger readers, with middle-school settings and protagonists and age-appropriate plots.

All of Orca’s hi-lo books feature short chapters, simplified sentence structures, and increased spacing between words and lines, in order to be more accessible for aspiring readers. They also boast fast-paced plots to keep readers’ interest.

Orca also publishes the “Meg and Greg” series by Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae, which is designed to help readers with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties by introducing new phonograms (combinations of letters that represent a specific sound) one at a time through fun, accessible stories. Each book focuses on four new phonograms.

The “Meg and Greg” series is aimed at a younger audience than Orca’s hi-lo books, ideal for elementary school-age readers. The first two books in the series, Meg and Greg: A Duck in a Sock and Meg and Greg: Frank and the Skunk, were released in 2020. A third book will be published in August 2021.

Praise for Ultra-Readable books:

“These engaging, fast-paced books…depict difficult topics with sensitivity.”—School Library Journal

“Joyce deftly endows each character with a rich inner life…Struggling readers can easily access the mindful, satisfying tale. A sweet success.”—Kirkus Reviews on Jelly Roll by Mere Joyce

“Highly recommended…Fishel’s story zips along and the vocabulary and length make it accessi­ble even for reluctant readers…Readers will support [Fish] throughout his struggle to pursue his own interests and rise beyond labeling.”—Jewish Book Council on Fish Out of Water by Joanne Levy

“Through the novel’s accessible language and short chapters, readers of all levels and backgrounds will be able to relate to and learn from Jen’s overcoming racial prejudice and intolerance…Highly Recommended.”—CM: Canadian Review of Materials on Dreaming in Color by Melanie Florence

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