Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Braille Books and the Teenager

3 weeks into summer “vacation”, and the kid is already bored with TV and surfing the Internet. Yippee!
Yes, some moms would be at their wits end with that feeling, but not in our house. It’s so nice to walk into the room and ask, “Hey, kiddo, wanna read?” and hear him say yes. You see, reading is a little different for him than for most kids. Everything he reads has to be in Braille.
El Grande has been blind since birth. He loves a good story like any kid. His reading material, though, takes a little more effort to find and then a lot more space to store. And in his teenage stubbornness, he refuses to read anything his mother or father recommend. When he read a review online of Among the Hidden, the first in the Shadow Children series, and asked me if we could order it in Braille, I said yes. I knew he’d love it – if he discovered it himself.
We have our own routine for reading, too. He prefers to read together (mainly with me), a habit we got into with the Harry Potter series. He reads his Braille copy while I read silently along in my print copy. I can help him out if there’s an unfamiliar word, and we can enjoy the stories together. We have what the pop psychologists call Quality Time, a time for just the two of us. The only down side to this set-up is that he doesn’t read as much on his own. Well, I’ll have to work on that.
Braille is harder to come by than print, too. Our local library has a decent-sized collection, but El Grande tends to read slowly when he reads for pleasure, and reading aloud to his mom goes more slowly yet. We almost always end up with overdue fines, and the fines double if the book (like many Braille novels) takes up two volumes. (Grumble, grumble, yes I’ve tried to complain, but no luck). New releases (like the beloved Harry Potter) are not available right away. We have to wait until the book is embossed (Braille printed) and then shipped.
We buy books, too, and I never begrudge the cost. How could I? Books rule! The storage space though – in a house already short on closets, there’s no spare room for the large boxes of Braille books.
Well, the big boxes will get stuck in corners until I find a better idea. Reading matters – in print or in Braille. Every kid, blind or sighted, deserves good books.

In the papasan: print copy and Braille copy of current book, Among the Hidden. And yes, it's about two inches thick. In the corner behind the chair, under the boom box, is the Braille edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, book 5 out of 6 (so far). The other Harry Potter books are in the other boxes, cleverly hidden behind the bookshelf.

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