January is National Braille Literacy Awareness Month. Braille is a touchable language for people who can’t see to read. It uses a group of raised bumps to represent the letters of the alphabet. It was invented by Louis Braille, who was also blind, and was born on January 4th, 1809.
The Santa Clara County Library District offers almost 150 different titles in braille for children. Most of them also have pictures and words so that family or friends can read aloud to blind children while they read the Braille letters. Many have textured pages, providing illustrations the reader can feel.
The library bookmobile visits Chandler Tripp School in San Jose every two weeks. Chandler Tripp School provides learning programs for children who are blind, deaf, or have other disabilities. The bookmobile brings bins of Braille books for the children to explore with their teachers, as well as music for them to enjoy in the classroom. They choose the books they want to borrow and bring them to the desk. Each student has his own library card. The school has added Braille letters spelling out the children’s names on the cards. The children touch the library cards to read the names. Once they find their cards, they can check out their books.
Another great resource for blind children to learn Braille is Braille Bug. Braille Bug is a website developed by the American Federation for the Blind for children learning to read Braille. The website has information about the Braille language for children, parents and teachers. It provides information about Louis Braille and Helen Keller. And it has free games and puzzles to help children learn to read Braille.
If you would like to try out Braille books from your library, just search “braille books” in the library catalog (or use the link here). You can request to have the titles you want sent to your local library for you.