Once I started digging in to why everyone seems to crank up the font size on the Kindle, more and more evidence has been sent my way. I want to thank Kerrie Smith, the Australian teacher and LEO at Education.au, for pointing out another significant research compilation on the importance of variable text size. This study was commissioned by the Thorndike Press™ and covers research studies that specifically identify comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary development as beneficiaries of properly enhanced fonts. Click on the image of the cover to get a PDF copy of the full study for yourself.
The findings are clear. Researchers report:
- the students improved between 41% and 70% on their SRA Reading scores after one year of large print remediation, gains that continued during summer breaks, unlike the typical loss from regular print books
- because there are fewer words and those words are easier to decode, struggling readers make substantial progress with comprehension, tracking, and fluency, all while making fewer decoding mistakes. Additionally, research shows that fewer words on the page lower anxiety levels in struggling readers
- at least one aspect of format — font size or style — was an important factor for 70% of the children when making book selections. Statements by the children regarding font revealed that they based their book selections on the legibility of the text
- students were able to read books on a higher reading level when the books were Large Print, as opposed to only being able to read on- or below-grade level books in regular print.
These are pretty compelling findings, especially given that original research was undertaken to specifically test the value of large print books for comprehension, fluency, and vocab development. The paper offers considerable ammunition for schools seeking grants to offer larger fonts to students in all phases of their academic and pleasure reading.