Creating Haptic Books as a Volunteer – Reading Beyond the Lines
by Jenny Petersen
If someone asked you for the title of your favourite childhood book, what would it be? Can you still remember the story that you liked to read? Or the story that was read to you? Mine was Go, Dog. Go! by P.D Eastman (just read it again after probably 15 years.. quite amusing!)
When we first learned how to read, most of us were captivated by the images depicted by the illustrator. We used the vibrant pictures and colours to navigate our way through the story. It was often our vivid imagination, guided by the pictures, that transformed the story into a whole new adventure. It was only when we could actually read the story itself, that we understood the intended message of the author. This is the beauty of learning to read!
“For children who are blind, the discovery of reading is not so easy, and in fact can be quite challenging.”
For children who are blind, the discovery of reading is not so easy, and in fact can be quite challenging. Without the aid of an illustrated story, it is difficult for these children to engage with reading at all.
This is where the Haptic Books for Blind Children steps in. The Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband (DBSV) has an AMAZING project started to create interactive books for children who are blind or have impaired vision. The coolest thing is that myself and four other volunteers were invited to help with this process.
“The Haptic Book is completely interactive and sensory based. Children can feel the character’s hair, glasses, shoes and even handbags.”
The Haptic book is designed so that the child engages with something on every page. It is completely interactive and sensory based. Children can feel the character’s hair, glasses, shoes and even handbags. They can smell different scents and experience the 3-D setting that pops up on the pages. Parents can also switch up the story line with removable sentences to keep things exciting. These books are a way for children to explore stories, even before learning to read brail.
I cannot stress how much time, energy and love has been put into these books. Almost everything has been made by hand and over 100 books have been created! Meeting the colleague in charge of this project was inspiring. Her passion and commitment for these children is admirable.
That afternoon was a beautiful reminder to remain passionate about what we do, and who we do it for. Working for others is always an opportunity for kindness and generosity. This kind of dedication was modeled so clearly by those in charge of these haptic books. I hope to carry that same sort of passion in my own field of work in education.
“Maybe it seems cheesy or cliche, but I think its true. The world changes when our own hearts and attitudes change for the better!”
Maybe that is the answer to my Berlin problem (see first blog for details). If I keep getting better at this generosity/kindness thing, and you keep getting better at it, and your colleagues keep getting better at it and so on and so forth…Berlin will be amazing : ) Maybe it seems cheesy or cliche, but I think its true. The world changes when our own hearts and attitudes change for the better!
Born and raised as a Canadian prairie girl, Jenny now lives in Berlin with her husband. As a teacher, she enjoys working with children and has a specialization in primary education. Writing, shark documentaries, baking and traveling Europe are a few of her favorite hobbies.