"Look & Say" books for beginning readers

by Sara Hoople (Atherlay)
(Deposit, New York)

Read with friends who get to wear pajamas all the time.

Read with friends who get to wear pajamas all the time.

Read with friends who get to wear pajamas all the time.
Happy about Reading
Proud Reader
Excited about a Book!

I worked in publishing before becoming a teacher and seeing a need for beginning readers.

Preface: I worked in the children's marketing department of Macmillan Publishing Company, in the 80's. I was Publicity Manager for Scribner/McElderry/Atheneum/Aladdin books when I left to become a teacher in 1989 (then a reading specialist). In 1995, Simon & Schuster published my one-hit wonder, "Math in the Bath." So I had some idea of what I faced going in, when it comes to conventions, awards submissions, author visits,

After seven years as Reading Recovery teacher, I began putting together little books for beginning readers. I had seen what kinds of books worked well with kids. Though there are patterns to their responses, I always see something new every year. Most startling to me was how eagerly some of my reluctant cherubs went for the old "Dick & Jane" books. With serious reflection as to why, I came up with a formula that I now apply to the set of books on my site that I call "Look & Say" books.

I did approach some of the appropriate educational publishing houses, such as Pioneer Valley Press and Seedlings, and was turned down. Those kinds of houses generally do their own writing and really see no need for unsolicited Susie Schmoe. (Though I did get a nice nod from the peeps at PV: "Your materials are creative and interesting.")

So it seemed that to get my books out there, my own website was in order.

Now my collection has come together. I have 24 books currently - two versions of all but one - with one new book planned every two months. They are available as download-and-print, but I have also secured an isbn/bar code, an LCCN number, and copyright, for the collection as a whole. I submitted my collection to the Mom's Choice Awards and received status as a "Distinguished Honoree," a silver medal.

So what company did my printing? Me. And I demand quite a bit from my printer! If my website takes off, Courier Printing, here in Deposit, NY, will help me with printing the sets.

I've sold one set of books since launching the website in November, but I know it's because people still don't know about it yet. I have to get reviews; I have to go to Reading Recovery and Reading Association conventions as a vendor. I have to buy some well-placed ads (out of my price-range at the moment). And perhaps I can glean more awards.

I'll be happy to give you an access code to see the books in their completion--just email me.

Visit The Clownin' 'Round Readers Book Club.

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Jan 02, 2012
by: Sara

Steve, that's a great idea. I can offer it as an additional printing alternative. I tend to be hung up on color--then I have to remember it's not about me! I will actually set to work on that. It is the responses that I got from my field test peeps that really helped me to refine my work, since I had to go at this editor-less!

Thanks so much!

Jan 02, 2012
Download and Print
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Sara, I'm oh-so-intrigued by what you're doing.

Best Children's Books is a month or so away from launching our own online store. It'll feature books by me, re-formatted public domain books, and - eventually - books by other authors. All of it illustrated, all of it for download and print, as you say.

I arrived here in different fashion than you. The site is going on seven years old, so when the store launches it'll be to an existing audience.

One thing I'm doing is commissioning line art (coloring book pictures, essentially) rather than full color. I see two benefits to that:
  1. My customers won't be burning through print cartridges

  2. The printed books double as coloring books

We should probably trade notes some time. Until then, good luck!

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