It is just as important for blind or near blind children to participate in story book reading as it is for any other child. The ritual of sitting reading a story, particularly at bedtime, is one that has been practiced for generations around the world, and is not only a time of bonding and re-affirming that bond between parent, or carer, and child; it is a time of exploration for the child. What are the choices in books for blind children?
Book Styles for Visually Impaired Children
There are a number of styles of book designed to capture and hold the interest for young children with restricted or no sight.
One of these is tactile books, which with the use of texture introduce the child to different shapes and materials. This helps them to differentiate and learn between various objects which they will probably encounter in everyday life. These are a fun way of building skills and of making literacy absorbing and magical for a visually impaired child.
Enabling the child and adult to read along together, text and Braille books are a great step up from tactile books. Allowing the child to feel the words as they are read helps to familiarize them with Braille; and sets them on the road to reading for themselves when they grow up.
Books don’t have to come with Braille as you can Braille a simple text yourself or ask your TVI to do it, but there are a number of organizations through which you can purchase already brailled books for your child.
Especially for Children
The National Braille Press (NBP) expresses its mission as promoting the literacy of blind children through Braille and to provide access through information which empowers blind people to actively engage in work, family and community matters. They have an extensive selection of reading matter available through their website for children; with quite literally hundreds of books available, either as ebooks or hard copy, expanding your child’s library and their world is made easy.
Their book of the month for July 2013 is “Where Does Pepper Come From and Other Fun Facts”. Designed for children of 5 years and up, available in contracted Braille, the book explores some zany questions, including: where pepper comes from; why snails carry their houses with them; and why flamingos are pink. The book is a combination science and riddle book, with each question being given a humorous answer before exploring the facts behind them. This is a book club selection available from the NBP’s Braille Bookclub: the only book club which features a new book every month.
You can join this book club in one of two ways: either by subscribing to the free monthly notices (available in print or Braille) which detail the book of the month; or alternatively by buying an annual subscription to automatically receive 12 monthly print/Braille books.
It goes without saying that helping the visually impaired child to develop their vision of the world in which we live is so important. This is a wonderful way of supporting your child’s continuing development and a great means of making sure that the time you spend with them is quality time which you will both enjoy.
And into Adulthood
Of course enriching the world of a visually impaired person does not end with their childhood. It is equally as important to provide structured and supportive materials for an adult as it is for a child. It is of no use to open the world to a young child, only to starve them as an adult. Many parents and carers will find themselves with a lifelong role supporting their child and will need resources which will appeal to a more mature person. The National Braille Press (NBP) offers a wide range of reading material, including periodicals, information and apps on computers and technology; home and health; literature and poetry; general fiction; and self help publications.
Online, organizations like http://www.livingblind.com/ provide communities where visually impaired adults can exchange information and ideas with others. These types of sites offer useful support based around such subjects as college, employment and relationships, as well as providing a forum for interaction with other people.
Lorna d’Entremont adds, check out on our Special Needs Book Review site our guest post introducing the book, The Transcriber – Book for Teens about Sibling Rivalry and Disability by Kristen Witucki –
Author, Kristen Witucki, says her book The Transcriber is a book for people with disabilities, their families and friends. It is a tale of sibling rivalry, growing up with a blind sibling, and the meaning of disability. The book is especially crafted for young adults and teens.
Read also our Interview with Kristen Witucki
Read our Interview with Kristen Witucki