Sense of Play

Sense of Play by Dana Meachen Rau

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There aren’t very many children’s books featuring characters who are blind, but the ones that do exist generally follow the same blueprint: Kids with vision are introduced to a child who is blind; The sighted kids at first feel trepidation to play with their new blind peer because they don’t know how to interact with him; The blind kid explains how he uses braille, a cane, and other adaptive equipment to help him in place of vision; All of the kids accept their new friend and are excited to learn more about how he uses his hands or his hearing to explore the world.

This is a perfectly fine story for a book, especially when we are introducing sighted kids to the concept of blindness, but the emphasis still tends to be on the difference of the child with a visual impairment, rather than on the things all of the kids have in common.

Sense of Play by Dana Meachen Rau
  • Hardcover Book
  • Rau, Dana Meachen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages – 07/31/2023 (Publication Date) – Capstone Editions (Publisher)

And that’s what I really love about Dana Meachen Rau’s new picture book, Sense of Play. Dana writes about two siblings, Chip and Joy, who spend a day together playing. Yes, Chip is holding a white cane on the cover of the book, and yes, he does read a book to Joy at one point during their adventures with “little dots in his book,” but besides those clues, you might not even notice Chip’s disability. In Dana’s world, Chip is just Chip!

Chip and Joy have a really sweet relationship and play games that are fully accessible to both without being preachy about adaptations, acceptance, or disability. In this book, Chip’s blindness is a very small part of his personality. Chip is firstly imaginative, protective of his little sister, funny, and smart!

Illustrated page from Sense of Play.
Chip and Joy listen to sounds in their home as part of their play.

Dana subtly weaves in references to sounds, smells, and tactile engagement to highlight how easy it is to play with a child who can’t see. Chip and Joy don’t need to work through the difficulties of relating to each other without vision, it just happens naturally, as is the case in real relationships. The story is charming and would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library!

Illustrated page from Sense of Play.
Smells and flavors are also a part of Chip and Joy’s play.

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