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Winner of the 2006 Educational Resources Awards
The Dark Man series has won great acclaim for its ability to engage older, very reluctant readers.
Starting at just 200 words a book and focusing on the key high frequency words, Dark Man offers older readers strong, atmospheric storylines combined with powerful black and white illustrations.
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24 reading books, 6 plays,
10 photocopiable workbooks,
plus Teacher's Guide
"Today I bought four of your books for my son. Andrew is nine and suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. He struggles with reading and I have found it very hard to find books he enjoys. Today I have found those books – yours! He loves them!"
"The Dark Man series is dark stuff indeed – gritty and full of tension and mystery. Perfectly pitched at reluctant teens and young adults ... More power to him!"
Ian Rankin, Bestselling author of the Rebus novels
The Dark Man series is carefully designed to appeal to very poor readers (or even non-readers) who have probably never successfully managed to read a book.
Each book features Dark Man, a shadowy, brooding loner who has been recruited to play a part in a secret, cataclysmic struggle between good and evil. He inhabits an underworld. He shuns society and lives in the cellars of abandoned buildings. He is, by nature, a creature of the night, always in the shadows.
The Dark Man books may appear to be rather 'on the edge' for 'educational' reading books, but in fact it is all surface: in terms of darkness / horror elements, the books imply much more than they actually show (or say).
The Dark Man books are all self contained stories, all of which reveal a little more about the Dark Man mythology. They don't need to be read in any particular order.
That said, the books do vary in difficulty.
The 24 reading books (and six plays) have been published in sets of six, so we now have sets 1, 2, 3 & 4 available.
Sets 1 & 2 offer stories of 200 – 400 words. Within each set, half of the books are at the very lowest level of just 200 words a book.
With Sets 3 and 4 we have stepped up a level, catering for a reading age of 7 – 8 years. There are more words , more pages and a slightly smaller font. The books are designed to challenge readers and build their reading stamina as their literacy skills develop. At the same time, readers are rewarded as the stories delve deeper and reveal more about the Dark Man.
Throughout the series, the books are printed on cream paper (particularly suitable for students with dyslexia or certain types of visual impairment).
The text uses a clear font (Century Gothic) with good letter formation.
The text is left justified and clearly separated from the illustrations, enabling words to be distinguished easily.
HMYOI Wetherby has around 360 young male prisoners, aged 15-18 years largely from West, South and East Yorkshire. Many of them have had a disrupted education and don’t see themselves as readers; some are non-readers. Finding books to cater for them is no easy task, but library staff have found particular success with the Dark Man series.
At Wetherby, the books are available in the library and are also used in the Education Department for one on one reading help. Staff explained that the books have been popular because they are short, with a small amount of text on each page, yet the illustrations and story combine to convey a powerful, adult plot.
Penny Pinn, Reader in Residence at the prison has been particularly impressed with the series. “Emergent readers gain self esteem from being able to read a whole book and they start to see themselves as readers. One lad said to me ‘The other teacher only made me read a page, I’ve read a whole book to you’. Another lad said ‘I can read these books now, I couldn’t when I came in here’.”
"The author of the series, Peter Lancett, spent an afternoon at Wetherby with a group of lads who had all spent time reading the books and thinking of questions to ask. During the visit there were lively discussions with questions such as: ‘How do you think up the story?’, ‘What made you start writing?’, ‘Do you write other sorts of books?’, ‘How much do you get paid for writing?’, ‘Have any of your books been made into films?’, ‘What do you like to read?’."
“Peter spoke in a language that was immediately accessible to the trainees. He was very approachable, down to earth and relaxed. The adult language and plot arouses the lads’ interest... There are so few of this kind of novel, it would be good if other authors could be encouraged to write for this age/ability group.”