by Nathan Slaymaker
What Is Braille is a pleasantly informative book explaining the history of Braille, its significance, and the many ways it is used in daily life. The book is particularly suited for advanced elementary or middle school children, but it also holds plenty of information for adults who don’t know much about Braille as well. The colorful illustrated book starts by introducing us to a young girl, Kaitlyn, who is blind. Kaitlyn is able to live just like everyone else, in part through the use of Braille.
The book informatively explains just how the Braille alphabet works, along with various ways to read and write with it, such as the translation of most written works into Braille, and the Perkins Braille machine.
The book then reveals the development of the written word for the blind, developing from the tedious process of reading raised letters on the page, to the “night writing” technique, to young Louis Braille and ingenious code.
The book continues with an assortment of very successful people, including our MOVIEGUIDE(r) friend Judy Redlich (www.judyredlich.com), who are blind yet continue to make a great impact on the world, largely enabled by the use of Braille and other aids. Blind author, Deborah Kent, has written more than 20 novels and numerous nonfiction books for children.
The book finally returns to Kaitlyn, now with greater insight into how she lives her life. She wants to be a Braille teacher when she grows up, knowing that the thing that has so helped her life can also make so many people like her have better lives themselves.
Overall, What Is Braille is a very good insight into the history of Braille and the lives of those it helps. While aimed at a younger audience, it isn’t overly simple, and the information it provides can really help people unacquainted with blindness better understand one aspect of many people’s lives.