It’s that time of year again – World Book Day! We know the benefits of reading for children are incredible, from boosting creativity and indulging imaginations to expanding vocabulary and improving concentration.
Thanks to the rise in popularity of audiobooks, with trail blazers like RNIB Reading Services and Audible bringing accessible reading to the mainstream, blind and partially sighted children can enjoy reading with a broad range of stories to suit wherever their imagination takes them.
Did you know?
- The number of visually impaired people who read braille has been in long-term decline for a number of years, with some experts estimating it to be as low as 8%.
- Fewer than 5% of book titles are available in braille format.
- In 2019, a survey by the Publishers Association put the number of audiobook consumers at around 1 in 5.
So, it seems that audio is changing the landscape of literature and as children are growing up more tech-savvy than ever before that trend is only set to continue.
You can find an impressive range of audiobooks or accessible books for free at your local library or through services such as Living Paintings and Clear Vision Project. While it can be hard to find mainstream books that are accessible for children who are blind or partially sighted, the Booktrust does have a few ideas of good titles with tactile elements, embossing, die-cut holes, braille and audio.
Give reading a go…
The organisers of World Book Day have updated their World of Stories section with a bundle of free audiobooks of some wonderful children’s stories. There’s something for all ages, below are a few of our favourites:
Billy absolutely LOVES Nature Girl. She’s his favourite superhero EVER! He has read all the books, seen all the cartoons, and he’s even got his own Nature Girl costume!Then Billy hears a nasty voice in his head. What if he looks silly? What if his friends make fun of him? Going out in a costume can be scary, even if you are dressed up as your favourite character in the whole world. Can Billy be as brave as Nature Girl?
A modern classic, Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant has been a nursery favourite since his creation in 1989 and has sold over four million copies around the world. Elmer is not your normal grey elephant – his colourful exuberance cannot be contained for long! With his trademark cheeky humour, Elmer shows us that it’s OK to be different.
One day Izzy and her friends are surprised to find that their teacher, Miss Jones, is actually being nice to them. This is the woman who was caught secretly smiling when Maisie Miller fell off her chair. There can be only one conclusion: she’s been taken over by aliens, and now she wants to make them all aliens, too!
Gerald the monster HATES baths. Being all washed and clean? Yuck! So Gerald’s mum hires Maggie, a professional monster washer, to help. Can Gerald learn to have fun at bath time?
Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki’s sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook’s calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds – the real and the imagined – from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?
Ready to add to your library?
Here are some useful specialist services and suppliers:
- Living Paintings: a free library of tactile books with audio description.
- Clear Vision Project: a postal lending library of mainstream children’s books with added braille (or Moon), print and pictures.
- RNIB Library: a free library of digital, audio, braille and giant print books.
- Listening Books: a postal and internet audio book service.
- Access2Books: a community interest project supplying giant print and braille books.
- Bag Books: supply multisensory books.