- Disabilities & the Disabled
Free Braille Books for Children
Where to Find Free Braille Books for Children
Looking for free braille books for a blind child? Here are some sources!
Access to interesting and fun reading material is just as important to blind children as sighted. While most public libraries do not keep braille books in their stacks, there are a number of sources where you can order free children's books in braille format.
It is essential for blind children to develop their literacy skills and become good braille readers. According to the National Federation of the Blind, the unemployment rate for blind adults is around 80%, and is much higher for those who cannot read braille than for those who are braille literate. Parents and teachers of blind children should make braille literacy one of the priorities of childhood.
Having access to interesting and readable braille materials is the best way to interest your child in reading. When reading for pleasure, your child should be using braille books that are a couple of reading levels below the materials they are using in school. So, if your child is reading Judy Blume books in school, which are at the 4th or 5th reading level, select a series such as Magic Treehouse, which is at the 2nd or 3rd reading level, for reading fun. This will allow your child to enjoy his or her reading skills, and increase mastery and reading speed.
My teenage daughter has been blind from birth. I have exposed her to braille since I adopted her when she was ten months old. As a result of this exposure, combined with instruction from excellent teachers, she has surpassed expectations in her braille abilities. Not only this, but she loves to read! Having plenty of interesting books to read has been a key factor in her literacy.
We have not had a lot of money to invest in braille books. They can be very expensive. I have raised her, since she was five years old, as a single mother. She has benefited from these programs that offer free braille books to children, and we have taken full advantage of most of them over the years.
Above, you can see a photo of my daughter when she was about eight years old, reading a free braille children's Bible she received at church. (Photo property of author and may not be reused. All rights reserved).
Looking for Free Braille Books?
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For whom are you looking for free braille books and materials?
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped - Lending Library for Braille Books
Register your child with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. This free lending service of the Library of Congress serves United States citizens and legal residents who are blind, low vision or reading disabled. Call 1-888-NLS-READ to locate your state branch.
You will have to provide documentation of your child's disability, which you can obtain from your child's ophthalmologist or teacher of the visually impaired (tvi).
Upon registration your child will have access to all of the braille and audio materials available in the National Library Service. You can browse through a catalog, request specific titles or let the librarian select some books for you.
All books are sent through the mail free matter for the blind. It is possible to visit some of the libraries in person. There is no charge to participate in this program.
My daughter used to borrow many braille books through NLS. Now she primarily listens to audio books, which she downloads onto her Book Port Plus or her iPod Touch. She prefers this over receiving random books in the mail at this stage of her life.
- National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
A lending library of braille materials for blind and visually impaired children and adults who are citizens or legal residents of the United States.
Kenneth Jernigan Library - Another Lending Library for Braille Books
Blind and visually impaired children, as well as teachers and schools, are eligible to borrow braille books from the Kenneth Jernigan Library. This library has a constantly changing collection of around 40,000 volumes of braille materials which are loaned to patrons through the mail.
I have less experience with this program. We did borrow from them when my daughter was little, but I forgot to transfer our membership after a move and we never got back to it.
The books we received from them were mostly Little Golden Books that volunteers had taken apart, brailled and put back together to make a print/braille book. I believe we were able to keep each book for two weeks, or maybe a month. As I recall, they were pretty strict about how long you could keep the books, but this was more than ten years ago, so my memory is a bit foggy on this point.
- Kenneth Jernigan Library
The Kenneth Jernigan Library allows your child to borrow books through the mail. Books are selected for your child based on reading level, or you may request specific titles.
Braille Alphabet Blocks
My daughter had these blocks when she was little. They helped her learn braille while she thought she was just playing.
Seedlings Angel Program - Two Free Braille Books Per Year
Sign up for the Angel Program at Seedlings Braille Books for Children. Once a year your blind or visually impaired child can receive two free books from Seedlings Braille Books for Children. You can select the titles your child would enjoy from their catalog. Seedlings produces braille copies of popular titles for children and young adults from board books for the youngest children to fiction and nonfiction for young adult readers.
This is an incredible program that has allowed us to build a nice home library for my daughter over the years. The books arrive shortly before Christmas, and a few years I was able to use them as Santa gifts for my little girl. It is great to be able to let the child pick out some books that they can keep.
- Seedlings Braille Books for Children
Seedlings offers every blind child two free braille books per year from their extensive catalog of children's and young adult titles.
American Action Fund - Free Braille Books for Your Child
Sign your child up for free braille books from the American Action Fund. Once a month or so your child will receive a braille chapter book or non-fiction book that is theirs to keep. Usually these books are part of a series.
In years past, my daughter received books from the Little House, My Weird School, and Junie B. Jones series. This year they are sending out a series of Fluffy books, as well as a biographical series with such titles as Lives of the Musicians and Lives of the Artists.
It is fun and rewarding for children to receive these free braille books regularly in the mail.
- American Action Fund
Free braille books delivered through the mail to your child approximately once a month.
Braille Institute - Up to Twelve Free Braille Books Per Year
Order some free braille books from the Braille Institute. Children can select up to twelve free books per year from their Braille Special Collection Program. These are books your child may keep. Any visually impaired child between the ages of 3 and 18, residing in the U.S. or Canada is eligible for this program.
My daughter loves getting these free books as well. Several times a year a catalog arrives and she can choose up to four books. Some of the books have tactile illustrations or other special features, and these count as multiple books. There is a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction titles that will be interesting to children across many ages and developmental levels.
- Special Collections
Braille Institute provides free services to blind and visually impaired people.
Help Your Child Learn to Read Braille
When my daughter was a toddler, I spent a few hours with her tvi (teacher of the visually impaired), learning the braille alphabet. From there I went on to learn contractions on my own. It's not as hard as you might think, and it certainly puts you in a better position to help your child with homework or if they get stuck while reading for pleasure.
I consider knowing braille to be an important aspect of raising (or teaching) a blind child. Strengthen your child's braille literacy with these items!
This book is an excellent resource for any parent or teacher wanting to accelerate her approach to teaching braille. Highly recommended!
Just Enough to Know Better -- A Braille Primer
This workbook will take sighted parents step by step through the process of learning beginning braille. By the time you finish this book you will be qualified to help your blind child with her braille homework or write a love note in braille to put into her lunchbox. What could be more useful than that?!
Braille Magnetic Letters
Magnetic braille letters to help your child practice making words. These colorful braille letters will stick to any magnetic surface. Put the on the fridge or use a cookie sheet to give your child practice with braille.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments! Do you know another source for free braille books for children which is not mentioned here?
I will be adding future lenses on where to buy braille books for children, as well as lenses about braille books for adults and how to access audiobooks for the blind.