The more I delve into the world of children’s books (largely thanks to having 7 years and counting of reading to my own kids, and also thanks to my new love affair with Barefoot Books), the more I realize how absolutely critical it is for little readers to be exposed to all sorts of differences in the characters that they read. They need to read extensively about children who are different from them in some way. This is a great way to open up conversations about things that make us different, things that make us unique and special, and things that make us so strikingly similar even amidst all those differences, too.
My own children have asked me questions about what it might be like to have a visual impairment, and this has prompted my search for some good children’s books that feature blind characters. I’ve put together a list of some of my top picks in case you’d like to check some out from your local library or even pick up a copy of something new on Amazon. Please note that these aren’t tactile books designed specifically for visually impaired readers, but rather traditional books that showcase blind individuals in the stories. Affiliate links are included at no cost to you.
1. Six Dots
This is a wonderful presentation of the story of Louis Braille, written specifically for children. My kids loved it and were very inspired by the impact a young person can have on the world!
Zulay is the main character of this story, and her wish is to run in the race during field day at school. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does exactly what she sets out to do!
This is a great read about a real person, George Mendoza, who lost his sight at age 15 and went on to excel in several different areas, including art and athletics.
Has your child seen a guide dog at work and had questions? This book is a great way to open up more conversation on the subject! It’s a story about Sarah and her guide dog, Perry, and you are literally walked through their busy day out and about.
A great read where a visually impaired child shows her classmates how she makes excellent use of her other senses to help her “see” in different ways.
The descriptive detail in this book about a family’s yearly trip to the ocean can give children a lot to think about, especially as it relates to trying to imagine things in a different way than simply relying on what they can see. Images are beautiful, too!
A perfect introduction to the life of Helen Keller for children in 1st-3rd grade. Children can better understand the frustrations Helen experienced as a child, the importance of Anne Sullivan in helping Helen overcome her challenges, and the inspiration that Helen provided to others throughout her life.
This book is the 2012 Creative Child Magazine Book of the year award winner, and for great reason! It is a captivating story of an adventurous young orphan who happens to be blind, and who invents the Daruma doll thanks to her keen observation skills. This doll goes on to provide income for her entire village and serve as a symbol of resilience, as it rights itself whenever it is tipped over.
This book doesn’t focus on children who are blind, in particular, but it made this list because it is the most inclusive book I have ever personally encountered. There are several instances throughout the book showcasing children with visual impairments, as well as children of every shape, size, color and ability. It’s currently my all-time favorite children’s book!
The author answers 13 thought-provoking questions that children have asked her over the years about being blind. Each one addresses a different aspect of her experience, from coping with her loss and dealing with people who don’t know how to treat a blind person to marrying a man she couldn’t see and being a blind mom. What a great, honest read, that addresses many of the questions children might want to ask.
This is another great biography, focused on the Grammy winner Doc Watson, who was considered one of the greatest bluegrass and country music artists of all time.
12. Mandy Sue Day
A lovely tale of a day on the farm and how Mandy enjoys it, thoroughly. Only at the close of the book does the reader come to understand the Mandy is blind, which can give young readers a better understanding of just how extensively other senses can be relied upon in daily life. A great pick for horse lovers, too!
13. Brian’s Bird
Brian has a new parakeet, and the reader gets to experience through the story just how much Brian, who is blind, can still enjoy his new pet through touch. This is also a very realistic story of dealing with sibling conflict, which all children who are siblings can relate to in some way, and the power of teamwork to solve problems.
14. The Secret Code
This is a quick, simple story that is geared toward younger readers (4-7, perhaps) that focuses on how fun reading is, whether you use your eyes to read or your hands, with Braille.
This is a true story about a boy, Davey, who moves to a new school and how his classmates learn to understand what makes Davey different (he is blind). It does a wonderful job of showcasing Davey’s capabilities even without sight, and it shows an honest portrayal of frustrations that can occur when you are struggling to understand someone who is different, as well as the benefit that can come from working together to find solutions that work for everyone. It’s a compelling story that will interest children and bring about great discussions.
I’d love to hear which of these are your favorites! Any to add to the list? Please leave a comment if there’s something else you think should be included.