World Braille Day

In honor of World Braille Day on January 4th, 2024, we want to celebrate the origins of Braille and highlight fiction and non-fiction books that focus on children with visual disabilities, the origins of Braille, and guide-dogs. World Braille Day is a reminder of the importance of accessibility and independence for people who are blind or visually impaired. We would like to raise awareness on the importance of Braille as a means of communication but also strive for accessibility and rights for blind and visually impaired people.

Adler, David A.
Illustrators: Wallner, John C.; Wallner, Alexandra.
A Picture Book of Louis Braille. 1997. Picture Book.
A biographical picture book on the origins of Braille and its creator Louis Braille. This picture book delves into the life of Louis Braille, a nineteenth-century Frenchmen accidentally blinded when he was a child, and how he invented the raised dot system known as Braille for reading and writing used globally for the blind.
Q. SB. B237a

Almada, Ariel Andrés
Walking Through a World of Aromas. 2012. Picture Book.
Walking Through a World of Aromas, a winner at the International Latino Book Awards, tells the story of Annie, a girl who was born blind. Annie has the gift of being able to sense other people’s deepest emotions. She can bring those emotions to life through her cooking. Annie spends her days in the kitchen with her grandmother and helps the townspeople overcome their ailments physically and emotionally with her culinary creations. That is until Annie meets someone new who awakens a boundless affection in her that will introduce her senses to a whole new world. Walking Through a World of Aromas is an enchanting story about Annie trying to mold her place in the world and finding love and acceptance along the way.
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Glaser, Edie A.
Illustrators: Burgio, Maria R.; Paraschiv, Doina.
All Children Have Different Eyes: Learn To Play and Make Friends. 2007. Picture Book.
All Children Have Different Eyes is an empowering book for children with visual impairments. The book teaches children how to respond to social issues, how to respond to bullies, how to address in confidence their condition, and how to manage mistakes being made. Activities are featured in the back of the book for teachers and parents on tools for how to develop these social competencies. When reading this book all kids will understand how to play with others and be better playmates with children that have visual disabilities.
Q. SE. G4622a

Hall, Becky
Illustrator: Ettlinger, Doris.
Morris and Buddy: The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog. 2007. Picture Book.
A biographical story of Morris Frank, a man who lost his sight in 1924 when he was sixteen. Morris learned from his father there was an American dog trainer in Switzerland which later allowed him to meet Buddy who became the first seeing-eye dog. Morris eventually became the co-founder of the first guide-dog school in the United States, traveling across the US and Canada to promote the use of guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired.

S.362.4183 H14m
Keats, Ezra Jack.
Apt. 3. 1971. Picture Book.
Apt. 3 explores two brothers who hear the sweet sounds of a harmonica float through the halls of Sam and Ben’s tenement. The melodies inspire the two brothers to go in search of who is playing the music. They encounter the blind man who is the source of the beautiful music, and who “sees” with his ears. The search for the music ends with a new friendship between the brothers and the blind man.
Q. SE. K22a

Lang, Glenna
Looking out for Sarah. 2003. Picture Book.
In this story we explore the lives of Sarah and her guide dog Perry. Perry helps Sarah go shopping, to the post office, and take the train from school. Sarah, who is a blind musician and teacher tells the story to her students of how she walked from Boston to New York with her guide dog to show the world how much someone can accomplish with the help of a guide dog like Perry.
SE. L25l

Lebeuf, Darren
Illustrator: Barron, Ashley.
My City Speaks. 2021. Picture Book.
This picture book details the life of a young girl who is visually impaired on her way to her violin recital where she senses all types of noise and rhythms from her city as she walks with her father through the streets, markets, the playground, and the community garden. In her city it “rushes and stops and waits and goes.” It “pitters and patters, and drips and drains.” Its “echoes” and “trills,” and is both “smelly” and “sweet.” With Ashley Barron as the illustrator, you can expect brightly and richly colored collage illustrations that add mesmerizing details and depth to the story. My City Speaks captures the essence of living in a concrete jungle, inspires kids to listen to their own towns and cities, all the while emphasizing a character study on adaptability.
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Liao, Jimmy
The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination. 2006. Picture Book.
An enriching tale of a young woman who is losing her sight and trying to find her place in the world. It is an English language translation originally published in Chinese. The young woman sets out to explore the world and discover one step at a time with her walking stick and dog to help guide her. The story is imaginative, courageous, full of heart, and hope as the young woman begins her emotionally healing journey.
SE. L6137s2006

Rau, Dana Meachen
Illustrator: Weissman, Bari.
The Secret Code. 1998. Picture Book.
The Secret Code follows Oscar and Lucy. Oscar is blind, and during reading time in class Lucy notices that his book is different from the one she is reading. Lucy notices it has bumps all over the pages that Oscar is able to read with his fingers. By the end of the book Oscar teaches Lucy how to read Braille so they can read together. This picture book is a great introduction to Braille and displays the Braille alphabet as well for readers.
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Winkler, Henry
Everybody is Somebody. 2019. Middle Grade Braille Book.
This Braille edition of Everybody is Somebody tells the story of Hank Zipzer who, when a well-known author visits his school, is given the opportunity, along with two friends, to be her guide for the day and introduce her at the school assembly. The situation, however, forces Hank (who has dyslexia) to find imaginative ways to hide his struggles with reading. Will everyone be able to tell what is fact from fiction? This story features a common theme on being true to oneself and remaining your most authentic self.
Q. S. W729hhev2019

Yolen, Jane.

Illustrators: Charlip, Remy; Maraslis, Demetra.
The Seeing Stick. 1977. Picture Book.
The Seeing Stick, an original fairy tale story from Jane Yolen, explores the life of Hwei Min the only daughter of the emperor of China who has been blind since birth. Her father the emperor offers a reward to anyone that can cure her blindness, however to no avail. Magicians to physicians are unable to cure her. That is until one day when a mysterious old man appears carrying a stick to visit the princess. The old man tries to teach Hwei Min that there is more than one way to see the world. In this imaginative and rich story, it highlights the power of perception and the importance of human connection in our lives.
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Online Resources

Alt Text as Poetry

Alt Text as Poetry is an amazing resource for students and educators to learn about alt text and the innovative ways to incorporate it into a classroom. This project is a collaboration between Bojana Coklyat and Shannon Finnegan, both visually impaired, who created this project in order to “to put alt text on your radar (if it wasn’t already), to get you thinking about it creatively, and to explore a few of the key questions that come up when translating images into text.” The projects website contains a workbook on alt text and alt text as poetry as well as writing exercises.

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

The NLS is a free national library program that provides Braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. The online NLS site is filled with online educational resources for children.


Bookshare is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. The online library helps people with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy, and other reading barriers to customize their experience in order to suit their learning style. Through Bookshare they can find any book they may need for school, work, and reading for pleasure.

Paths to Technology

Paths to Technology developed by Perkins School for the Blind is a website designed to assist educators, families, and students on the latest technology for students with low vision and blindness. According to their website the site was “Created as an interactive site, Paths to Technology is a resource for defining and disseminating best practices, training, and support for teachers of students with visual impairments, braille transcribers, other education professionals, parents and students themselves.”


Books for and about the Vision-Impaired

Some people read with their eyes, but other people read with their hands. The SSHEL S-Collection has books for all types of readers. These books are great for anyone who likes to read—or would like to learn to read—in braille. There are also plenty of information books about the experience of being blind or vision impaired as well as biographies of famous blind individuals. Children with visual disabilities can find themselves in their pages, and visually-typical children can learn about someone who lives life a little differently than they do. Books in braille and books about blindness are perfect for classroom lessons about disabilities or for anyone eager to learn.

When searching for books in braille, try keywords “books in braille” or “braille books.”
When searching for print books about blind individuals or blindness in general, try a subject search of “juvenile literature” combined with keywords “vision impaired,”, “blind,” or “visual disability.”

Books in Braille

Andreae, Giles.
Giraffes Can’t Dance. 2013.
Gerald the giraffe just wants to dance—but his body won’t cooperate! His legs are too long and gangly, and he just feels silly until he finds the perfect music.

Armstrong, Nancy M.
Navajo Long Walk. 2014.
This is the story of a Navajo boy named Kee who must travel a long distance with his family and livestock to an internment camp, where he and his family are forced to live for four years before they can return to their reservation.

Carmi, Rebecca.
Amazing Magnetism: Magic School Bus #12. 2013.
Miss Frizzle’s class challenges another second grade class to a science contest. Miss Frizzle’s class was falling behind, but when your school bus is magic, anything can happen!
[SSHEL S COLLECTION Q. S. 538 C21a2013

Cowley, Joy.
Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey. 2015.
Miguel becomes friends with the turkey his Papa sends home for Thanksgiving Dinner and names him Gracias. But Gracias isn’t a pet–he’s supposed to be a meal! With a little help from his family, will Miguel be able to keep Gracias off the menu?

Cunningham, Ann.
Sadie Can Count: A Multisensory Book. 2006.
This book has both large print and braille for readers of all ability; similarly, it contains full-color illustrations along with other, more tactile details to be enjoyed by all.

Gidwitz, Adam.
A Tale Dark and Grimm. 2015.
Hansel and Gretel find their way into a few other stories and meet the characters living there as they try to learn to live happily ever after.

Keene, Carolyn.
The Pumpkin Patch Puzzle: Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #33. 2015.
Nancy and her Clue Crew have an autumn mystery to solve—someone has smashed all the pumpkins for the big pumpkin decorating contest!

Koster, Gloria.
The Peanut-Free Café. 2006.
What will a peanut-butter-loving school do when a new student with a nut allergy enrolls? Should the food be banned? How could an entire school ever give up peanut butter? Simon has a clever idea—a Peanut-Free Café!

Osborne, Mary Pope.
Ghost Town at Sundown. 2014.
Jack and Annie are at it again in their Magic Tree House—this time, they are sent back to the Old West to solve a mystery and meet cowboys and ghosts along the way.

Penn, Audrey.
The Kissing Hand. 2005.
Chester the raccoon feels a little apprehensive about starting Kindergarten, so his mother shows him a special trick to help him bring her love with him wherever he goes.

Rylant, Cynthia.
Henry and Mudge and Annie’s Perfect Pet: The Twentieth Book of their Adventures. 2013.
Henry’s cousin Annie likes Mudge the dog, but wants to decide what kind of pet would be just right for her. A bird? A kitty? Or something else?

Yousafzai, Malala.
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban. 2015.
Malala Yousafzai tells the story of her courage when she demanded her right for education and was shot by the Taliban at age 15. She survived and became one of the most inspiring figures of the decade.

Books about Braille, Blindness, and Blind Individuals

Non-fiction Books and Biographies for Beginning Readers

Alexander, Sally Hobart.
Do You Remember the Color Blue? 2000.
The author, who lost her sight at age 27, recounts the questions children have asked her, including, “How can you read?” and “Is it scary?”
[CCB and SSHEL S COLLECTION S. 305.908161 Al 27d]

Edwards, Nicola.
My Friend is Blind. 2005.
This book is an introduction to blindness for children who may have never encountered an individual with the disability. It includes color pictures and a glossary for additional learning.
[SSHEL S COLLECTION S. 617.7 Ed976m]

Moore, Eva.
Buddy, the First Seeing Eye Dog. 1996.
Readers follow Buddy the German shepherd as he trains to become America’s first seeing eye dog.
[SSHEL S COLLECTION S. 362.4183 M782b]

O’Connor, Barbara.
The World at His Fingertips: A Story about Louis Braille. 1997.
A short biography of Louis Braille, who invented the reading system of the same name after he was blinded as a child.

Rappaport, Doreen.
Helen Keller’s Big World. 2012.
Easily accessible for young readers, this biography of Helen Keller introduces children to her unique life.

Troupe, Quincy.
Little Stevie Wonder. 2005.
Learn all about blind musician Stevie Wonder’s life from his birth in Detroit to his worldwide success as a recording artist. This book includes a CD for additional sensory fun.

Non-fiction Books and Biographies for Intermediate to Advanced Readers

Alexander, Sally Hobart.
She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer. 2008.
Many people know of Helen Keller, but not as many are familiar with Laura Bridgman. Bridgman lost her sight, hearing, and some of her smell and taste as a child. She went on to study at the first school for the blind and later became a beloved teacher.

Dash, Joan.
The World at Her Fingertips: The Story of Helen Keller. 2001.
This in-depth biography of the famous Helen Keller provides curious readers with more details than ever before, including her college years and eventual involvement in the political world.

Jeffrey, Laura.
All about Braille: Reading by Touch. 2004.
An introduction to the braille system with a full explanation of its history and invention by Louis Braille.

Kent, Deborah.
Extraordinary People with Disabilities. 1996.
This book profiles famous individuals with disabilities—some visual—and emphasizes the continuing struggle for equal rights for the differently abled.
[SSHEL S COLLECTION S. 363.40922 K414e]

A New Free Resource
The U.S. government offers free, video-on-demand children’s television programming for thousands of students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing. For more information, see the news release and link.