You know you want your child to grow up with a love of books. You want your child to be a good reader who cherishes her books and reads often.
You know you need to start this love affair with books early, but there is one problem.
Your child is going to be a braille reader.
You may be thinking that this is a real road block, that your child won't have the same access to books as her sighted peers will.
You can't just stroll down to your local book store, browse their Children's Section, and return home with an armful of books.
Well, maybe not, but there is a world of braille books out there just waiting to be discovered by your young reader.
And these books are a lot easier to find than you might think...
Free Braille Books
Let's start with the good stuff: The FREEBIES! There are many free braille books programs just waiting to send you tons of fun children's books.
- ReadBooks!: National Braille Press, along with Seedlings, distributes free braille book bags to families with blind and visually impaired children, ages birth to seven, across the U.S. and Canada. Each bag contains a print/braille children's book, a braille primer for parents, a tactile toy, info about braille literacy, and more!
- National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS): This is the Federal Library of Congress service that provides free braille books and audio books to blind patrons. This is the best place to start looking for braille books for your kids so have your TVI sign you up right away. And don't forget to check out their NLS Kids Zone for children's books and events.
- Free Braille Books Program: Sign up for free braille books through the American Action Fund.
- The Braille Special Collection: Previously known as Dots for Tots, this program is offered through the Braille Institute. Sign up for free braille children's books throughout the year!
- The Book Angel Project: Children in the US can sign up for two free books through this Seedlings project. You can sign up every year!
- APH/Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library have teamed up to provide free audio and print-braille books to preschoolers with visual impairments!
- Volunteer Braillists & Tapists, Inc.: VBTI has an extensive braille library with over 2000 titles, of which over 750 are children's books. Their books are available for free to anyone who requests them throughout the USA and Canada.
- Free Accessible Children's Magazines: Search the database and sign up for free Kids Magazines in audio, large print, or braille. APH also offers the Squid Tactile Activities Children's Magazine.
Buying Braille Books
There are also lots of places online that sell braille children's books, and for the most part, their prices are comparable to print books.
- Seedlings: A great place to buy braille children's books.
- National Braille Press: Another great place to buy braille children's books. We love their Children's Braille Book Club where you get a new braille book in the mail every month for $100 a year.
- BrailleInk: BrailleInk is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the experience of reading by providing materials with both print and braille in a unique, easy-to-use format that encourages shared reading and promotes braille awareness.
- I read with My hands: A wonderful set of tactile books and activities designed specifically for blind and visually impaired children. If you're tired of the same old "touch and feel" books that present very little tactile feedback for your child, you'll definitely want to check out these amazing books.
- Braille Bookstore: Great selection of braille books, braille dictionaries, and even braille flash cards. They also carry fun games like braille playing cards or braille dice.
- American Printing House for the Blind: APH offers some very nice books designed specifically for blind children with lovely tactile illustrations. Our favorite is Jelly Bean Jungle which includes scratch-and-sniff stickers so you can smell the jelly beans. These books are a bit pricey, though, so it might be a good idea to see if your TVI can get them through quota funds.
- ReadHowYouWant: ReadHowYouWant offers current books in multiple formats, from large print to braille. If you're looking for young adult books, especially new ones that have just been published, this is a great place to start.
Downloading Braille Books
You can also download braille books off the internet and either read them through a screen reader or print them at home with an embosser.
- BookShare: For a small subscription fee (or free if you're a visually impaired student) you can become a member of BookShare and begin sharing scanned print books which can then be downloaded and read through common braille or synthetic voice reading devices.
- Web-Braille: A service offered through the National Library Service, Web-Braille allows you to download any book, magazine, or musical score in the NLS database. Web-Braille files may be read online via a screen reader or downloaded for viewing offline or embossing with a braille display, braille-aware notetaker, or braille embosser.
More Fun Braille Resources
There are other ways to introduce your child to braille beyond books. Check out these fun programs and products too...
- Perkins Panda: The Perkins School for the Blind has created a really fun kit designed to introduce toddlers to Braille. The kit includes print-braille books, a big stuffed bear (with tactile paws and nose), audio versions of the stories, and toys that represent the activities in the story books.
- Slate Pals: This is NFB's pen-pal program for kids who read and write braille.
- NFB Share Braille: A new program from NFB where people can share their braille books. NFB connects people looking for braille books with people who have braille books to give away. What a great idea!
- APH Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books: A very nice (and thorough) online guide to creating accessible books for blind babies and toddlers. Lots of great hands-on ideas. This could be a great way to get your older kids involved in a craft project that will help your younger child with a vision impairment! The guide is also available as a downloadable pdf or a braille brf file.
- Everything Braille: A great site hosted by the National Braille Press. Learn about braille, tactile graphics, and play fun braille games.