Future Reflections Special Issue: Blind Children with Additional Disabilities
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by Katherine Schneider, PhD
Edina, MN: Beaver's Pond Press, Inc., 2010.
28 pages, $18.95
Reviewed by Janna Stein
From the Editor: When she was growing up Janna Stein regularly attended NFB conventions and seminars for parents of blind children. She is currently enrolled in a master's degree program at Northern Illinois University, studying to become a teacher of the visually impaired.
The first thing I noticed about Your Treasure Hunt was the array of brightly colored, eye-catching pictures on every page. The bunch of yellow dandelions on the cover relates to an anecdote the author recounts about the day she realized she was blind.
Although the book is ostensibly geared for young readers, I think Your Treasure Hunt will be most useful for parents or teachers of blind children. It can serve as a good jumping-off point to start a discussion about disability. Schneider offers many brief tales from her childhood, each followed by an introspective question for the young reader. After one anecdote she asks, "What are things that you are scared to do? How do you decide which ones you will try?" The questions encourage the child to think about how best to deal with some of the frustrations and setbacks that may go along with a disability. Speaking to the reader from personal experience, Schneider does not use a tone of pity. She encourages the child to think about and pursue future goals.
Your Treasure Hunt uses a straightforward, conversational manner of writing that is appealing in its frankness. However, it may prove tiresome to children who expect a picture book to take them away to a magical land of stories. The book uses little humor and few plot devices that would hold the attention of a small child. You may find your child squirming on your lap around the halfway point of this book.
With that said, Your Treasure Hunt may still be valuable in a number of situations. A teacher might use one of the questions from the book as part of a lesson on diversity or the healthy expression of emotions. A parent might curl up with a child and read a portion of this book to spark a conversation about what it means to have a disability.
Your Treasure Hunt features a helpful resource section for parents and teachers. There you can find a list of award-winning novels for young readers that include characters with disabilities. The resource section also lists sources of books in alternative formats and organizations that may be useful to parents or teachers of blind children or children with other disabilities.
The intentions behind this book are pure and good. Your Treasure Hunt emphasizes perseverance, optimism, and the idea that hard work will be rewarded. Katherine Schneider assures the young reader that it is normal to encounter barriers on one's "treasure hunt," but the gold can undoubtedly be found.
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