Accessible Books and Stories

Having previously described some useful apps for developing literacy skills, Helen now addresses another key question: where can we find books and stories that our children can use? Her class have enjoyed trying out some of the different books and stories, and there are books suitable for a wide range of abilities. 

Living Paintings Tactile Books

This is a free library service that will send out tactile books to parents and schools. The pack we were sent included tactile Brailled books, audio files and some additional materials. Living Paintings have books for early readers up to adults.

Our S1 class recently received the 'Spot' book pack which came with 3 books (each 3 pages long) with thick plastic pages and raised images to feel, audio books and even a Spot teddy! It was lovely to see students interacting with a book that was hard-wearing with easy-to-turn pages and simple tactile images.

Exploring a tactile book from the Living Paintings library.

Listening Books

For students who struggle to access text but can understand spoken language. Listening Books provides audiobooks via CD, download or streaming services. They offer a large list of titles with a lot of choice but the books are often quite complex and include many set texts and study guides for GCSE and A Level students.

RNIB Library

The RNIB offers an audio, Braille and large print book service for visually impaired children and adults with a huge range of titles, including simple texts as well as best sellers. Their audiobooks can be borrowed on CD, downloaded or listened to using a special DAISY player (or through DAISY software installed on your computer). Individual children can join the library and then have books sent home as well as to their school. 

ClearVision Library

A postal lending service for books in Braille, Moon and some tactile books at no cost to families. Students can borrow books for up to 6 weeks, and if you let the library know what your child is interested in they can tailor their selection so your child can try some new books they might enjoy.

Sparkup - The Magical Book Reader

Parents, carers, other family members and even the students themselves can record audio files for books which play the recorded 'text' as the students turn the pages of the book. This is a great little device which lets students access any story they like, read by one of their favourite people! It's light and very portable and when we tried to record some favourite books we found it very easy to use!

Listening to 'Dear Zoo' with a Sparkup reader

Homemade Tactile Books

Tactile books can be a lovely, engaging way to share a book with a child who likes to explore with their hands, and they can be great fun to make together! All you need is some card or paper for the pages, glue or velcro to attach items (velcro can be an interesting texture by itself, too, and lets you take objects off the page while glue can secure things that might otherwise get lost) and lots of different tactile things. You might like to make a tactile book about a favourite story, a part of your daily routine - for example, a book about the bathroom might include a toothbrush (feel the bristles!), a piece of towel or even some soap - or even a collection of favourite textures. Your child might like the ridges on a sheet of corrugated cardboard, some fuzzy fleece, some bubble wrap or smooth plastic. To add sound, you can use a recordable button or even buy a talking photo album. If you decide to use a talking photo album, you might need to add cardboard pages to fix your textures to.

These are only a few ideas - there are a great many more out there, but if you want to see some more ideas and advice on making your own tactile books, I find the Paths To Literacy page a great starter. Tactile books are often recommended for visually impaired students but because you can easily tailor them to your child's own interests, they can be a great introduction to book skills for all children.