Future Reflections          Convention Report 2007

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Another Braille Book Flea Market Success

by Peggy Chong

You’ll need to be there awfully early to beat out most of these eager Braille readers for first look at the selections. The line began to form long before the doors were set to open.The Braille Book Flea Market is a joint project of the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). It has been an annual event now for six years. Children and parents alike look forward to this opportunity to attend a child-friendly event where they can find quality children's books in Braille for their child. There are no such events in their home communities, and many parents cannot afford to buy Braille storybooks, or certainly cannot buy as many as their children might like to have.

Plans for the Braille Book Flea Market that was held at our national convention in Atlanta, Georgia, this summer began very early in the year. Because our print/Braille storybooks were gone in just a few minutes at the 2006 event, a call went out at the first of the year for print/Braille and young reader books.

The Braille Book Flea Market is only made possible through help from committed volunteers that help unload, sort, and box Flea Market browsers’ selections.The call was answered in many ways. Parents, libraries, and schools thought of us when weeding out their collections, as they always do. But the exciting part for me was that local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and groups that NFB members belonged to took this on as a project and Brailled countless print/Braille and young reader books for us this year. Many of the transcribed storybooks were new copies made by volunteers who have attended past Braille Book Flea Markets and have seen for themselves how excited the children are about being able to pick out their very own books and take them home to keep! The volunteers who helped unbox the books ooohed and aaahed over the beautiful handmade books before putting them up for display. One special source of books this year was from the children at this year’s convention who attended Gail Wagner’s Braille storybook-making workshop prior to the flea market. Over a dozen books were created and donated from this effort.

Many volunteers, including several students and staff from the Iowa Department for the Blind, showed up at noon to unbox, sort, and set out the tens of thousands of books sent to us in the past several months. UPS assisted us with the gathering and transportation of the books before, during, and after the event.

Elora Garcia, age 11, of New York is one of many Braille readers to browse the books offered for free each year at the market.A line began to form outside the room twenty minutes before the doors opened. Eager parents and children wanted to be the first to look through the collection of books on hand. When the doors opened, the rush of people spread all through the room. Calls of “ Do you have any...” were heard throughout the room. Some families who have done this before got smart. If they were looking for more than one age group, the parents spilt up and scooped up what they could to take to an empty spot in the room to sort by themselves. When books were put back by one family, they were quickly scooped up by another.

Within an hour and fifteen minutes, almost all titles of books were taken from the display tables. It took a bit longer for the line at the tables where the books were shipped and labeled to go down. The hope was that the books could beat the children home. This year, there was nothing left to box up and save for next year.

While the children sorted through their treasures, they were able to have a bit of supper, too. Hot dogs and lemonade were provided by the NOPBC. That, too, was gone in short order. It was a great year, and we are already looking forward to planning another great event in Dallas in 2008.

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