The National Federation of the Blind Braille Reading Pals Club
A Pre-literacy Program for
Blind and Low Vision Children
Ages Infant to Seven
The Braille Reading Pals Club is an early literacy program that fosters positive attitudes about Braille for children and their families and promotes a love of reading by encouraging parents to read daily with their blind or low vision child.
Watch this short video that explains the importance of the Braille Reading Pals Club, with a parent's testimony of how the program has impacted her young child.
Participating club members will receive:
- A print-Braille book and a plush reading pal
- Monthly parent e-newsletter promoting tips for early Braille literacy
- Quarterly Braille activity sheets for young children
- Braille birthday cards for child participants
- Access to a network of resources devoted to serving parents of blind children
- Electronic reading log to track the time read with children each day
- Subscription to Future Reflections, a publication for parents of blind children
Mission of the Program:
- Introduce young children and their families to Braille
- Provide parents literacy strategies to use with their children
- Direct parents to essential resources for promoting success for their young blind children
- Help parents promote early literacy skills, a love of reading, and a positive attitude about Braille through daily reading with their blind children
Here's How the Program Works . . .
- Complete the Braille Reading Pals Club Registration form online, or print the Braille Reading Pals Club Registration form here (Word). The contact information is listed at the bottom of this page and on the hard copy application.
- You will receive a packet of materials for the program. It will include a print-Braille children's book, a plush Reading Pal, instructions about how to complete the program, a Braille alphabet card, literature for parents of blind children, and resource information about sources of children's Braille books.
- Schedule time to read to your child a minimum of fifteen minutes a day.
- Read the monthly parent e-newsletter for early literacy strategies to use when you read with your blind child.
- As much as possible, read from print-Braille books so that your child becomes accustomed to "seeing" Braille on a regular basis and begins to associate Braille with the pleasure of reading.
- Introduce the plush Reading Pal to your child. Explain that this is his/her Reading Pal to keep, BUT it only comes out when it is time to read. The Reading Pal is never played with any other time--only during reading time. Ask your child to name his/her Reading Pal, and encourage your child to develop a personality for the Reading Pal. You may want to discuss what type of animal it is, what type of voice it would have, and so forth. There are lots of possibilities for reading games with your Braille Reading Pal. Be creative, and use your parent e-newsletters to get ideas. Don't be dismayed or disappointed, however, if your child doesn't like the plush animal. You can do the program with a substitute or with different objects that illustrate the book. The time your child spends with you while reading is what is most valuable.
- Get into a comfortable position where your child can begin to independently hold the book, feel the Braille, and turn the pages. In the beginning, you just want him/her to get the concept that reading involves holding a book, touching Braille, and turning pages. If your child is reluctant to touch the Braille dots, suggest a "piggy hand ride." You should, ask your child to place his or her hands over yours and “go for a ride across the dotted page." This will help show the child how to move his or her hands across the page to feel the Braille. Most importantly, do not hold or move your child's hands to "force" him or her to look.
- Every time you read, make a habit of filling out a journal for that date. You can download the reading journal from our Web site. It will take less than 30 seconds to date it, fill in the amount of time read, and make a couple of brief comments about the reading activity for the day.
- When your child receives the quarterly activity sheet, read it with your child and help him or her to complete it. Show your child the Braille while you read the print.
- Label objects that your child will touch every day with Braille. Either label them with the child’s name or the name of the object that he or she is touching. You can order a Braille labeler and dymo tape from The Independence Market.
Visit here for a list of Braille Book Resources
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), a division of the National Federation of the Blind, is a great resource for parents of young blind children. Please visit the NOPBC main page for more great information.
The Braille Reading Pals Club is sponsored by the NFB Jernigan Institute, NOPBC, and the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF).
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about the Braille Reading Pals Program, please contact:
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314, Ext. 2312