Last week, NBP hosted an event to read several of our print/braille books to blind and sighted pre-school children. We had a print reader and a braille reader team up to share the Boston classic, Make Way for Ducklings (Penguin Young Readers), and a few other favorites. Our goal is to make these events more than just spending a nice afternoon with a good book – we want to raise awareness about braille as a literacy tool and let the world know that braille is still essential in a blind child’s education.
It seems that braille is still novel enough in the sighted world to draw attention in the media that helps us to spread the word about braille’s benefits. The kids always love our reading events—what’s not to love about a listening to a good story—and it’s always fun to feel the braille bumps on the pages after the storytelling.
As I traveled to the event with our braille reader for that day, she remarked on how much she loved Make Way for Ducklings. She thanked me for bringing a new copy because she had worn down the braille on hers from repeated readings to her children, and now grandchildren. She also expressed how much she loved braille – a common refrain among braille readers—and how afraid she was that it wouldn’t be used as much by future generations. I hear this sentiment often and it’s why we take our advocacy role seriously when it comes to literacy for blind children.
As we celebrate Children’s Book Week, the longest running national literacy week that honors books and the joy of reading for young people, remember that braille storybooks are an important part of this equation. Braille is still one of the best ways for a blind person to be literate and that’s worth celebrating all year.