Parents and Professionals

Girl with small headphones

This page is for families, teachers, librarians and other professionals who would like to know more about Young Calibre. It's designed to answer questions you may wish to ask but if you don't find what you are looking for here, just phone us on 01296 432 339 or email

Charlotte in bedroom

Who can join?

If a child or young person has a sight problem or dyslexia and finds it difficult to read print they can join. They can also be a member if they can't read because of some other disabilities - for example if they can't hold a book or turn pages. Click here for information on how to join or read our latest newsletter.

You may wonder if audio books are a good idea or think children should concentrate on learning to read print/braille. Parent, Roy Apps says:-

"Our son is severely dyslexic but very bright in all other respects. With the help of his teacher he has begun to write stories. These stories are informed by the extraordinary breadth of reading he has been able to achieve only through the Calibre Library."

Teachers and parents tell us that audio books are simply vital in giving children a love of books as well as a great deal of fun. Reading large print or braille is hard work and "decoding" words is very tiring for children with poor sight or dyslexia. The physical effort involved can be very demotivating, acting as a barrier to their enjoyment and understanding of the story. With quality audio recordings, comprehension is aided through the professional reader's skilled use of tone, emphasis, timing and accent.,

"My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia and was falling behind her peers as she struggled to read. The audiobooks from Calibre enabled her to read the same books as her friends, increase her vocabulary and in consequence her confidence rose immeasurably. Now, aged 16, she has just completed nine GCSEs and has become a confident reader both for her school work and for pleasure."
Louise Healy, parent

Audio books give children access to literature that they might otherwise miss out on altogether and the fun they get often encourages them to work harder at developing their reading skills. Children can develop their reading skills if they listen while trying to follow the print - this helps dyslexic children in particular to improve word recognition and reading speed.

Audio books also give children access to stories that are right for their developmental level - they might only be able to read print books that are rather childish for them. And children learn things from books. Books can unlock so much - new ideas, fresh worlds, insights, knowledge, new vocabulary - and spark their imagination and their own creativity. Some children begin to read independently as a result of the inspiration and new found confidence sparked by listening to audio.

"Children are very private. Sharing the intimacy of reading a book with them can be a catalyst for conversations that might otherwise not happen. Through books you learn about yourself and your child, and find it easier to talk about difficult experiences."
Anne Fine, author, mum and patron of Calibre

Moreover disabled children have rights to equality under the Disability Discrimination Act. Access to information in their preferred format is one of these rights and Calibre, along with many other agencies in this field, believes this should include leisure reading as well as 'information'. For more information see the Right to Read Campaign

"Joe would like to say how much he enjoys all your books. He listens avidly every evening. Thanks from me too - I still read to him but not quite so often now!"
Joe's mum

Do you supply textbooks?

Oliver listens to an MP3 CDNo, Young Calibre is a leisure reading service though we have many books that are read in English lessons (for example Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm). We have over 100 titles relevant to the GCSE and A Level syllabus of major examination boards as well as titles for PHSE in the National Curriculum. Please see our Education page for further details.

If you need textbooks in non-print formats, there is a useful leaflet called Ways of Reading which describes other reading resources available to young people with sight problems, dyslexia or physical disabilities. To view the leaflet click here.


"Car journeys used to be a nightmare until we joined Young Calibre. Now Jade just plugs herself in to her latest book and we get perfect peace!"
Jade's dad

How does Calibre select books for the library?

We choose Young Calibre books very carefully. We trawl The Bookseller (a magazine about all new books) for ideas, read reviews in newspapers and magazines then take home a selection of books and read them ourselves. We look for quality - books that are well-written, will stand the test of time and offer great entertainment value. We choose books that will appeal to boys or girls or both, young children and teenagers so that we get a good balance. Then we either record new books ourselves or buy commercial recordings. We grade the books by educational key stage so that families and teachers have a guide as to what is suitable.

"One of the special virtues of libraries is that they offer unmediated access to books - children can explore, read what they want. That's so important if children are to develop a love of books."
Jake Hope, Children's Librarian, Lancashire County Council

When we choose books we also bear in mind that our young members don't want to be excluded from whatever their peers are reading. But we also choose less familiar books if, in our view, they have as much to offer as those on the best-seller lists.

In case you were not aware of this - young members can also borrow books from the main library, except for 'x' rated ones (which may contain violence, strong language or explicit sex scenes and are not suitable for young people).

"Adam is making progress with his reading - he makes more effort now that he realises books are fun!"
Adam's teacher

Choosing books from catalogueHow do members choose books?

This can be a challenge with over 1,500 books in the Young Calibre library and 8,000 more in the main collection. Most teachers and families opt to get books by key stage - we simply send books in that range. Obviously that means a young member will sometimes get a book they don't like - but they should send it back and we'll send another.

Our online catalogue allows you to choose and order books online, with a search facility so that you can select by title, author and key stage. See the How to choose books page for details of catalogues.

Press Play gives reading ideas and a list of new books in the collection.

How many books can individual members have?

We usually send two books to each member so that there is a new one to start as soon as one is finished, and we send another when you return one. If you would like extra, for example for the long summer holidays or a stay in hospital, just let us know.

"We just wanted to say thank you for the audio newsletter that was sent to Liam. He has enjoyed it so much, and has listened to it at least three times so far! It really hit the spot with him - a huge success - THANK YOU!"
Liam's mum

Is there a group membership?

Calibre Audio Library offers group membership of our download and streaming service of audio books for people with sight problems, dyslexia or another disability which prevents them from reading print. Our group membership scheme enables groups to borrow books from our extensive library for their users who fit one, or any, of these criteria.

We have three different offers for groups so you can tailor the service to suit your needs. Just click on this link to find out more. This service is available to UK establishments only.

If you prefer, the children can become members in their own right and can be registered from school.

Can you send all books to dyslexic children?

We are delighted that through campaigning with the Right to Read Alliance, previous copyright restrictions have been lifted and all Young Calibre members now have access to the whole library. Dyslexic children are now able to enjoy the same range of books as our young members with sight problems.

What does it cost to join?

There is a single joining fee of £20 to become a member of Young Calibre. After that, we have no subscription charges, no postal charges and no fines for late, lost or damaged audiobooks. This means the service is available to all families on low incomes.

Is the service easy to use?

"Oliver really enjoys the service and it has helped him enormously."
Oliver's dad

The service is very easy to use. Once families (or teachers) have sent us the application form, we start sending out audio books by key stage, despatching another as soon as one is returned. That means the young member is never without a book and the family/teacher does not need to renew the membership. The family does not even need to be knowledgeable about books. If families (or young members) wish, they can select a personal book list, using the online catalogue or Press Play. When a young member reaches 16 they can join the main library. We will transfer the membership over automatically unless advised otherwise.