“A book welcomes you always, judges you never, and affects you for life. And it’s never too late to pick one up.” — Arianne McHugh, President, Saddleback Educational Publishing

This is the guiding premise that drives Arianne McHugh, President and CEO of Saddleback Educational Publishing, every day to continue creating engaging and effective books and materials to help all students experience success.  

As CEO of a company which has published and distributed books and curriculum designed to serve struggling, reluctant and at-risk students for more than 30 years, Arianne McHugh would like to share her favorite titles, tools and tips for engaging, supporting and fostering young readers in advance of National Literacy Month, coming up in September.  Below are just a few of her top picks as well as tips for developing a life-long reader.

Top Picks for Young Adult Struggling Readers:

NEW!! Always Upbeat / All That (Lockwood Lions Series) – Urban Teen Fiction Flip Book Series for grades 9-12. *Independent Publisher’s Book Awards Finalist 
Steve Jobs (Graphic Biography) – Graphic novel for 9-12 grade student at a lowered 4.0-5.0 reading level and only 25 pages
Unchained (Gravel Road Series) – Urban realistic fiction for grades 9-12 with themes such as foster care, drug abuse and urban life written at 3.0-4.0 reading level. *Independent Publisher’s Book Awards Silver Medalist  
Managing Money (Lifeskills) – Full-color handbook for teens transitioning into the real world, who need real life skills.  

reluctant readers

Leveled Text for Mathematics Workbooks (Math) – These high-interest texts are written at four different reading levels with matching visuals. There are 15 different topics in each book. Practice problems are provided to reinforce what is taught in the passage. 

Arianne’s Tips for Supporting a Struggling Reader:

 “Give them what they want! Sounds simple, right? It is. Rather than fighting them to read their school book list, let’s get them to open a book on   a topic of their choosing and enjoy it first. If they show an interest in football- start with books on football. Odds are, if they enjoy the process and the content, they will do it again…and again… and you get the point.

Start a home library. Find a place in your home, even if it is a corner, and make that the dedicated area for your collection.  Start by filling the area with books that you have. As you can, add to the collection by selecting topic-appropriate and engaging books. Expose your children to a variety of genres and topics. You never know what new interests they may find, just by being exposed to something different. 

Lead by Example. Set time aside yourself, to spend with your children, reading. It is okay to read separately – just setting the example will go far. If you don’t have the time, make it part of your child’s schedule. “After dinner, 15 minutes of reading time.”

Incorporate Technology. Everywhere children look, the digital world encompasses them, and while this is often a distraction from picking up the print book, it can also be starting point.  Whether you have a home computer or a digital device (iPad, Kindle, etc.), you have access to e-books, the new normal. In fact, by taking the time to get a local library card, you can have access to ‘virtually’ check books out to any reading device. This is the “new” library model, and it is wonderful for people without time or money (or who just love technology). 

More about Arianne McHugh and Saddleback Publishing:

Books are in Arianne McHugh’s blood. Growing up with a publishing executive father, Arianne feels so strongly about helping those who have fallen behind and inspiring a passion for reading that she and her husband, Tim McHugh, bought Saddleback Publishing from her dad in 2009. The company has since released hundreds of titles in various genres including Award-Winning Urban Fiction aimed at African American and Hispanic teens, “Hi-Lo” (high interest, low reading ability) Chapter Books, Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, Interactive Smartboard Lessons, Low Level Supplemental Curriculum and more aimed at struggling learners.  An industry leader in the category, Saddleback publishes books for young adults as low as 220 words at a 1st grade reading level, up to a 40,000 word novel at a 3rd grade reading level.

When she is not seeking out the most talented authors to write engaging and entertaining stories that speak to this generation of 5th-12th grade students, Arianne McHugh tirelessly travels the country to speak with teachers, librarians and others in education to help identify kids who are at risk and get books into their hands.  

Nineteen titles from Saddleback’s Urban Underground series were selected for the American Library Association YALSA  Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (2012) and they were recently awarded their first Silver Medal for their Urban Fiction title, Unchained, from the Independent Publishers Book Awards.