Parents of children with dyslexia or reluctant readers will know only too well the struggle they face getting their kids excited about books.
But one mum managed to stumble upon a solution, almost by accident.
Mum-of-three Liz Pichon, 52, has recently published her 10th book in the ‘Tom Gates’ series, which follows the relatable adventures of a schoolboy.
Her engaging books revolutionise storytelling for kids with their brightly coloured covers, creative illustrations and array of fonts throughout.
“It’s almost been a coincidence that reluctant readers and kids with dyslexia have really got into books,” Pichon told The Huffington Post UK.
“If I sat down and consciously tried to do something for them, I don’t think I’d have been able to do it.”
Pichon, who is mum to Zack, 25, Ella, 21 and Lily, 17, is very much in tune with how much kids with dyslexia struggle to read.
Pichon has dyslexia herself and when her eldest son was five she found out that he also has the condition.
“We got the official statement when Zack was seven and he ended up going to a specialist dyslexic school,” Pichon explained.
“His diagnosis definitely played a part in remembering the kind of things both he and I loved when we were that age, struggling with words.
“I loved comics and books that were visual, books that you would open up and get to the story straight away.
“I also remember the books Zack was keen on like ‘Captain Underpants’ and more visual stories, so when I was writing them, I began remembering what he was like as a kid.
“He had enthusiasm, he jumped from subject to subject and that’s what I based the character of Tom Gates on.”
Pichon’s books have now reached millions of children and she is happy to have encouraged so many young readers.
“I really understand when parents say to me: ‘Your book got my son reading!’, that makes me very happy,” she said.
“Parents tell me there are so many children that don’t think reading and books are for them because they’re dyslexic.
“I say: ‘Don’t let that stop you’.
“We are in a real prime time for literature for kids, but as a child you have these wonderful picture books with drawings and then you jump to books with just lots and lots of text.
“Where do the pictures go? Kids with dyslexia enjoy these books and shouldn’t feel that in order for a book to be a ‘proper book’, you have to take out the pictures.”
Pichon’s books have been translated into 43 different languages worldwide and received several children’s book awards for their unique style.
But for Pichon this was completely unexpected, initially she hadn’t envisioned writing more than one book.
“If someone had said to me on book one you’ll be doing 10 more of these, I would have keeled over,” Pichon explained.
“It’s a bit like doing a marathon, I think about them individually and never imagined in a million years I’d be able to carry on the series as I have.”
And as long as the enthusiasm for Pichon’s books continues, she doesn’t planning on stopping any time soon.
“I think one of the things that makes the books so enjoyable is the style of illustration and doodles, it’s something children can copy,” she explained.
“They see it and copy it and feel like it’s their ‘thing’. I write about stuff that is familiar for all children so no matter where they’re from, they a can relate to them.
Pichon said she finds inspiration”everywhere and anywhere”. But she is greatly inspired by children – whether it’s an anecdote she heard from her daughter or a story from a friend’s child – and she hopes the inspiration goes both ways.
“I’m trying to show kids, through my books, that they have all those same stories and ideas in their own lives and they can tell their own stories,” she said.
“Kids always ask me where I get my ideas from and I always say I bet everyone has a funny situation at school they could develop and turn into stories too.
“And they do.”
The latest book in the ‘Tom Gates’ series ‘Super Good Skills (Almost)’ was published in May 2016 and book number 11 will be published in October 2016.