Future Reflections                                                                                       Convention, 2002

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Touch the Universe: A Review

by Carol Castellano

Many parents and teachers of blind and visually impaired children have been excitedly awaiting publication of Touch the Universe: a NASA Braille Book of Astronomy, after receiving word of the gala publication event held at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore. This wonderful book is now available from The Joseph Henry Press in Washington, DC.  To order this book go on kine to http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10307.html.

Images of the planets, stars, and galaxies captured by astronomers with the Hubble Space Telescope form the core of the book. These gorgeous full-color images are also beautifully rendered in raised line form. Accompanying each illustration is a brief explanation in large print and Braille. Author Noreen Grice, an astronomy teacher and planetarium educator who also wrote the Touch the Stars books, writes in clear, simple terms easily understandable by children from third grade or so on up. Following each explanation is a brief guide to viewing the tactile image. Grice’s enthusiasm for astronomy and wonder at the universe is evident throughout the book. Wonderful astronomy terms like “local supercluster,” “gaseous nebulae,” and “globular cluster NGC” add to the fun.

The illustrations begin with the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth and proceed farther and farther away from our home planet, all the way to the most distant reaches of the universe ever photographed. How exciting that there is now a way for blind children to get a glimpse of a world they ordinarily would not get to see. I tried the book out on three blind students, a fifth grader, an eighth grader, and a senior in high school. One of the kids almost refused to give it back to me! I am sure blind adults would also appreciate and enjoy the book.

If you’ve ever marveled at the size and complexity of the universe and if you’d like to awaken or nourish that wonder in your child, be sure to get this book. 

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