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Espresso characters make their 'print' debut in a new series of children's books

(16th February 2011)

Espresso Education, the leading digital curriculum provider for primary schools, has teamed up with publishing company Franklin Watts to launch Phonics - the first of three series of children's books. The books bring alive the popular Espresso characters - Sal, Ash, Kim, Polly and Scully - who 'star' in the popular Espresso Primary service, to engage learners in literacy and topic work.

The first series of twelve titles to be launched this spring supports the teaching of reading through phonics. Recent headlines paint a gloomy picture: one in five children at the age of seven struggles to spell simple words. As a result, proficiency of reading by age six has been set as a specific priority by Michael Gove, Education Secretary. In November, he announced a phonics-based progress check in Year 1 to allow teachers to identify children not reading at level and to introduce remedial strategies. The use of Synthetic phonics in developing reading skills has regained popularity amongst education professionals and is a method supported by government.

The bold and colourful new book series is carefully graded and each book supports the teaching of reading through synthetic phonics. The fun stories introduce the characters and follow them in situations that children can relate to - such as Kim's Big Bed. Each book includes a simple puzzle for children to spot the rhyming words and an 'Espresso Connections' section that suggests further activities that can be found on the Espresso Primary digital service. This allows for a 'blended solution' where books and digital curriculum work together in a classroom setting, although the educational books can also 'stand alone' and be enjoyed on their own.

This phonics series will be followed shortly by a series of eight short story readers called 'Story Time' and a series of six non-fiction books called 'Ideas Box' that explore popular thematic topics, such as Chocolate and The Olympics, in a cross-curricular format.

Lewis Bronze, CEO of Espresso, says:
"We are very pleased that our much-loved Espresso characters have been successfully translated into print format - it's brought a fresh and new dimension to their personalities and lives. It's always been our mission to create high quality resources that make learning fun but are firmly grounded in the curriculum. These books further support this mission and it is our hope that teachers and children alike will benefit greatly from them."

Rachel Cooke, Publishing Director for Franklin Watts, says:
"With so much emphasis on digital learning, Franklin Watts' partnership with Espresso is a timely reminder of the important role books still play in children's education. They enrich the learning experience, broadening it from the classroom and putting it, quite literally, in the hands of the child. In the case of phonics, the Espresso characters give children a familiar world to practice and build their new reading skills, using their phonetic awareness to decode and enjoy real, satisfying stories."

At this Education Show, Espresso will literally bring Sal and her friends to life with a chance for schools to win a life size cardboard cut-out of one the Espresso characters. To take a first look at these exciting new books visit Stand O56 at the Education Show or www.education-show.com to enter the prize draw and take Sal home!

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Editors notes

Books are priced from £7.99 and can be purchased from spring 2011 via www.espresso.co.uk/books

About Espresso Education

Espresso Education is the UK market leader in the provision of video-based digital curriculum services to primary and secondary schools, featuring Espresso Primary, Clipbank for secondary and Channel 4 Learning. Its learning services offer the highest quality content and support resources to enhance teaching, stimulate learning and raise standards in the classroom. The services update their learning modules and news weekly, making it uniquely placed to respond quickly to the educational agenda while giving schools access to the freshest, most relevant and topical resources available today. Its international division licenses and distributes content into more than 40 countries worldwide. Espresso is the winner of six BETT Awards, a BAFTA Award and a Royal Television Society Award.

About Franklin Watts

Franklin Watts is the leading publisher of educational books for children, providing essential support for the curriculum in schools, libraries and the home. Our wide range of titles offers something for everyone - from top-quality non-fiction, perfect for classroom projects or homework help, to excellent reading resources, which really get kids turning the pages. Franklin Watts aims to give children of all abilities a life-long love of learning and books. www.franklinwatts.co.uk

Contact the Franklin Watts press team: Eveline Van Eijsden at eveline.vaneijsden@hachettechildrens.co.uk or phone 020 7053 6158