World Book Day is upon us again, which means classrooms everywhere will be filled with little Hermiones, Gruffalos and Hungry Caterpillars as children celebrate their favourite books by dressing up as their favourite characters. While its reading time for many it’s a good time to reflect on how things are changing for blind and partially sighted people who are keen to read.
Did you know?
- The number of 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 five percent of book titles are available in braille format.
- Thanks to advances in technology, the world of reading has opened up to blind and partially sighted people, with talking books available from most libraries.
- In 2019 a survey by the Publishers Association put the number of audiobook consumers at around one in five.
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.
This year the organisers of World Book Day have created the World of Stories with a bundle of free audiobooks of some wonderful children’s stories read by some well-loved voices. There’s something for all ages, below are just three of our favourites:
The thing about the Hueys is that they are all the same. They all look the same, think the same and do the same things. Until one day, Rupert Knits himself a new jumper . . . How will the other Hueys react? A hilarious story about individuality.
Claude is no ordinary dog – he leads an extraordinary life! When Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes set off for work, Claude decides what adventure he wants to have that day. Today he and Sir Bobblysock go to the city for the very first time. The have tea in a cafe, go shopping and visit a museum. It is all very normal until… Claude accidentally foils a robbery and becomes the local hero!
Harrison tries his best to be good. He doesn’t steal, he always shares with his sister and he never cheats at board games, but Harrison also has a BIG flaw … He can’t control his temper! So when he’s given a black hole instead of a balloon at a party, Harrison jumps at the chance to get rid of everything that makes him cross. But when it’s not just things he hates that are disappearing into the black hole but things he loves, too, Harrison starts to realise that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for…
While it can be hard to find mainstream books catering for children who are blind or partially sighted as our chair of trustees Anna Tylor recently found out, the Booktrust does have a few ideas of good titles with tactile elements, embossing, die-cut holes, braille and audio.
Here are also 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