Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adult Literacy and A Winter Kill

I'm not going to answer the sociopath question. How's that for being a sociopath! Instead I'd like to tell you a bit about an adult literacy project I am involved in.

Over 10 million Canadians are working at marginal levels of literacy

Over 90 million Americans are functionally illiterate.

My new book, A Winter Kill, has just been released by the Rapid Reads imprint of Orca Publishing.

Literacy (or lack thereof) is a serious problem in your country and mine. For many reasons there are adults out in the world who can’t read properly. Whether because they had undiagnosed learning disabilities at school, because English isn’t their first language, because they didn’t have teachers and parents who encouraged reading, they reached adulthood lacking what might be the most essential skill in the world today.

The ability to read.

Because they can’t read they face enormous difficulties. Government or legal documents are a minefield, most jobs are out of reach. Understanding a newspaper can be impossible.

Fortunately, anyone can learn to read. At any age or in any environment.
However, it can be very hard for an adult to admit that they can’t read and to seek help. They’re embarrassed to be seen reading children’s books.

So the people at the Canadian children’s publisher Orca decided to create line of short, fast-paced, easy to read adult books. They called the imprint Rapid Reads.
Rapid Read books are not only aimed at adults with literacy problems, but at immigrants struggling to learn English, reluctant readers, and anyone in search of a good book that can be read in one sitting.

A Winter Kill is short at 15,000 words (my other books are between 80,000 and 100,000 words). A normal reader can read it in about 45 minutes.

It’s an adult book, with adult themes and adult language aimed at adults. It just happens to be written at a Grade 2 – 3 level.

It’s short and plainly written. A mystery stripped down to its barest form, with no subplots, no flashbacks, only one point of view, very little character development.

When I went to Africa in November I discovered another purpose for a Rapid Reads book. I faced a series of airplane trips. At the beginning and end of each one I had to turn off my e-reader. Now, I can’t last more than a minute without having something to read. Fortunately, I had a Rapid Reads book, small and compact, tucked into my bag. Out it came, perfect for those times when I had to put away the book I was reading. (A Winter Kill is be available in e-format also).

If you or your library are involved in adult literacy or know anyone who is, pop over to Rapid Reads and find out more about their books.

When rookie police constable Nicole Patterson discovers a body on the edge of town, she’s drawn into a murder investigation that’s well beyond her experience and expertise.

A Winter Kill available from, And, as always, your favourite independent bookstore.

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