Chris Jolly is Managing Director, and owner, of Jolly Learning Ltd. He founded the company in 1987, initially publishing some boxed reading games. He published the first part of Jolly Phonics in 1992.
He met Sue Lloyd, the founding author of Jolly Phonics, at a small conference in 1989. She explained how she got good results in teaching reading, but couldn’t get anyone to listen. Over the next two years Chris had her ideas trialled, and from these The Phonics Handbook was developed. By good fortune, at the time of its launch, the book was featured in a discussion about reading on a UK breakfast TV programme, which got Jolly Phonics off to a terrific start.
Chris’s aim from the beginning was to spread Sue’s ideas worldwide. Soon after the launch of The Phonics Handbook, he took the initiative to create a focus group in the US, which enabled him to adapt the Jolly Phonics products to be compatible with the US market as well.
Since its inception, the programme has become so widely used across the world that there are now many countries where the majority of children learn to read and write with Jolly Phonics. In response to the early popularity of Jolly Phonics, Jolly Grammar was soon introduced as a structured grammar programme to continue supporting children who had begun learning literacy with Jolly Phonics. Jolly Music was also developed as a programme for the systematic teaching of music using the principles of Kodaly, a Hungarian music educator. Marketing these publications has taken Chris to over 40 countries around the world.