Flying Start Books was launched in August 2000 by sisters Sarah Ensor and Rachel Walker.

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Flying Start Books offers high-quality literacy resources to schools and distributors around the world.

Growing up with a literacy specialist mother meant that the sisters couldn’t avoid being infused with a love of books and a firm belief that literacy is the key to success in life.

This passion led them to build a publishing company dedicated to giving children a flying start in life by launching them into literacy. Combining forces with their mother, Pam Holden, the trio created Red Rocket Readers, the company’s flagship reading series.

Our Story

At Flying Start we believe every child has the right to learn to read.

As we travel the world promoting our Red Rocket Readers we hear a lot of slogans: “No child left behind”; “Every child counts”; “Every child a reader”. Every country seems to have their own catch-phrase but what they’re really saying is: “We have a problem. We are failing to teach a whole group of our children to read, committing them to a life of struggle and, in many cases, failure.”

It’s all right there in the name. We created Flying Start Books with a very clear intention: to ensure children get off to a flying start, with reading and with life!Rachel Walker, Publishing Director, Flying Start Books

The 80/20 Rule

It starts with the simplest of things: First, we’ve made sure every capital i has a top and a tail. We’ve put extra space between the words, between the linesScreenShot985 and, at the lower levels, between each letter. Take a look at what happens when you type the letters f and l side by side: For a child still finding their way with letters this can look like a capital A, so we’ve spread the letters out a little to make it easier.

Choice of typeface is also critical. In many modern fonts some letters have been streamlined and simplified ScreenShot986to a point where they are indistinguishable from one another. As adults we’re well accustomed to reading the whole word picture but for a young child it’s not so easy. Try decoding the first three letters in this example, and then consider the page number!

Lower case q’s without flicks, curly g’s and a’s – they’re all confusions that children just don’t need at this early stage, so we’ve eliminated them.

Every book we create has to pass this test; Is it Child Focused – have we really put the needs of the child first? Is it Teacher Driven – were the strategies of our literacy expert supported and enhanced by the work of the editors, designers and artists? And last, but certainly not least, is it Fun? Only when we’ve checked all three boxes will we proceed.Sarah Ensor, Managing Director, Flying Start Books

Navigator Override

We’ve worked in the publishing industry for years, so we’ve heard all the excuses editors use for ignoring the author’s wishes: “The designer knows best about type and page layout”; “The artist won’t want to redraw that picture”; “There isn’t time to make those changes”; “It’s too expensive”; but at our place, that’s just not good enough.

We’ve given our series creator and principal author a unique authority: “Navigator Override”. This final veto at several key development stages means that Pam Holden, as the literacy expert, can insist on changes right up to the last minute, if she believes they are essential to support the learning process.