Future Reflections                                                                                           Convention 2004

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Free Braille Books Program

Blind kids want the same things sighted kids do. They want to watch their favorite television shows, go roller-skating with the gang, buy the current fashionable shoes, and read the newest popular book. Children enjoy collecting their favorite books and reading them over and over. Many adults today continue to cherish their Nancy Drew® or The Hardy Boys® book collections. Experts in literacy say that this type of popular literature plays an important role in developing reading skills and a love of reading among children. We at the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF) believe blind children ought to have the opportunity to enjoy literature, develop literacy skills, and learn to love reading, just like their sighted peers. Through the Free Braille Books Program we are working to make this possible.

In 1997 the AAF started this program to provide blind children a free Braille book every month from a popular children’s reading series. The books are for the children to keep and collect for as long as they want them.

The titles published every month are the same titles that are available in bookstores and public libraries everywhere. In the past six years over one hundred twenty-six titles from popular children’s reading series were distributed to thousands of blind children. These titles were from the following reading series: Goosebumps®, Goosebumps® Series 2000, Animorphs®, Baby-Sitters Club, Baby-Sitters Club—Friends Forever, The Nightmare Room™, Little House chapter books, Nancy Drew®, The Hardy Boys®, A to Z MysTerieS®, and Junie B. Jones chapter books.

Because reading interests and trends change, the AAF periodically reviews and changes the titles offered. Beginning January 1, 2004, AAF will issue six titles each from the A to Z MysTerieS® series (reading levels 2.6 and up), the ever-popular Junie B. Jones series written by Barbara Parks (reading level 2.0 and up), and the Matt Christopher Sports Bio Bookshelf (suitable for preteens). The books will be shipped in alternating months: two titles in January, one title in February, and so forth to the end of the year. Blind youngsters, blind parents, teachers of the blind, schools, and libraries serving the blind are eligible to participate in this program. Participants may enroll in or withdraw from the program at any time. They may also choose to receive one, two, or all three titles, as they like. And the books are free and theirs to keep.

No child should be left out because he or she is blind. Because of this program blind children can now discuss the newest book with their classmates and build their very own collection of books—just like their sighted friends.

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