January 4, 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birthday. This influential inventor was blinded at age 3 and went on to develop the Braille writing system, patterns of raised dots that can be read by touch. These books for kids tell Braille’s inspirational life story and describe what life is like for those who are blind.
For younger children, David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Louis Braille introduces the life and work of this important Frenchman. With watercolor illustrations, the story moves from Braille’s childhood accident to his career at the National Institute for Blind Children and his development of the Braille writing system.
An ideal biography for kids in grades 3-8, Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman tells the life story of Louis Braille, as well as presents the world of the blind before the invention of Braille writing.
Louis Braille: Inventor by Jennifer Fisher Bryant provides a thorough overview of Braille’s achievements, while focusing on his time at the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris, in this book ideal for children in middle grades.
Although not written for children, parents might enjoy reading Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius. This coffee table book by C. Michael Mellor contains many reproductions of letters, documents, photographs, and artistic works to complement the biographical text.
The Black Book of Colors, a unique book for young children by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faría, features raised black line drawings on a black background that kids can touch to decipher. The written text describes colors through imagery and also includes a translation in Braille so children can better understand how it is used. A full Braille alphabet is included at the end.
With full color photographs, Listen for the Bus: David's Story by Patricia McMahon depicts the life of David, a young blind boy, as he begins kindergarten. From school to horseback riding, readers are introduced to the many things David can do and the changes that take place in his school.
Author Sally Hobart Alexander lost her sight when she was 26. In Do You Remember the Color Blue?: And Other Questions Kids Ask About Blindness, she answers thirteen questions frequently asked about her daily life, from dressing to working with her guide dog, to raising her children.
In the picture book, Keep Your Ear On the Ball, Genevieve Petrillo writes a fictional story about a young boy who is blind. Well-meaning children try to help him do things, but capable Davey’s answer is always “thanks, but no thanks.” He does have trouble playing kickball with his friends until he learns to listen to the cues of his teammates as they work together.
Young readers will enjoy this fictional account depicting the day in the life of a seeing eye dog. Looking Out for Sarah by Glenna Lang describes the relationship between a blind woman and her guide dog as they complete their daily activities.