September, 2016

Dear teachers and parents of the visually impaired and school librarians,

In our effort to promote braille literacy among children, Wisconsin Braille Inc. is very pleased to offer another new selection of free braille books, financially supported by the Glen Stacey Fund. This year’s collection was well researched and includes recommended children’s books not already available in braille [accomplished by checking the databases at American Printing House for the Blind (www.aph.org) and the National Library Service ((www.loc.gov/nls)].

Through both prose and poetry, this year’s collection offers books that are fanciful as well as serious; several have very timely themes. The committee has included a few bilingual books in both English and Spanish as was requested last year. Of particular importance to our children who are being taught in school settings is the book My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay. Two delightful books are offered in print/braille for pre-readers. Again this year, we are bundling three books of similar theme (dealing with feelings) in one braille volume. We sincerely hope that our selection meets the needs of your readers! All the books in this year’s collection are produced in UEB.

While this project is supported by Glen Stacey funds, none of these funds are used by Wisconsin Braille for its day-to-day operations. We rely on our membership dues to support our other activities, notably a newsletter and a website. If you appreciate receiving these free books, we would urge you to become a member of Wisconsin Braille Inc. Annual dues are only $10 for a regular membership or $30 for a sustaining membership. A membership form is attached or may be found on our website: www.wisbrl.org. Wisconsin Braille does not sell its membership list to any other organization.

One decided advantage of becoming a member of Wisconsin Braille Inc. is that you may order additional books from our composite list. This benefit is no longer available for non-members. The composite list is found on our website: www.wisbrl.org.

Abuelita, Full of Life by Ilena de Vida

Jose is not sure what to expect when his grandmother from Mexico moves in, except that he will certainly have to change his ways. What he discovers is that he doesn’t mind one bit. Abuelita is full of surprises, and full of life. This book is a beautiful depiction of intergenerational relationships with excellent Spanish translations on each page. Ages 4-8; pre-school-grade 3.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

This is a story of a 10-year-old boy, Jackson, whose imaginary friend (a seven-foot-tall talking cat) helps him cope with a family crisis--an impending eviction notice. Crenshaw is the companion that Jackson needs to realize that the weight of the world is not on his shoulders. Grades 4-8.

The Death of the Hat, A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects selected by Paul B. Janeczko

Poetry, scholars claim, is one of the oldest living art forms. This book offers a rich and varied collection of poetry from across many epochs. Some poems may be recognizable, but others will be new to readers. Ages 10 and older.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle

Born in Cuba in the 1920’s, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dreamed of drumming the rhythms of her native country, but was told that only boys could learn to play drums. Finally her father agreed to find her a teacher who was amazed at her talent and helped her change others’ attitudes. Millo became a world famous musician who played alongside many jazz greats. A winner of the 2016 Charlotte Zolotov Award for ages 4-8.

Good Night, Good Dog by Mary Lyn Ray

It’s time to say goodnight. But what if a dog isn’t sleepy? Fresh and tender, this book captures how a reluctant pup warms to bedtime in a way that young children will recognize immediately—and find as reassuring as their own bed. A Charlotte Zolotov Award winner, this book comes highly recommended. Produced in print/braille for ages 2-4.

Granddaddy’s Turn—A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael Bandy

A young African American boy who idolizes his grandfather walks with him from their farm to town so he can vote for the very first time in his life. Proudly the boy takes a photo of this granddaddy holding his ballot. When granddaddy can’t read a very difficult text, he is told that he cannot vote. Fast forward to the little boy now a grown man and old enough to vote for the first time in 1976. He takes the photo of his granddaddy with him to the polls. A note at the end provides further information about the voting rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. Ages 6-9.

Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat

A serious, yet hopeful story about the sadness of a little girl, Saya, whose Haitian mother has been sent away to a prison for undocumented immigrants. With the help of her father and a newspaper reporter, Saya learns about the power of words and stories. The book echoes the author's own experiences. A Kirkus Best Book of 2015 for grades 2-5.

Maya’s Blanket -- La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown

Little Maya loves her special blanket (manta) which was made by her grandmother (abuelita). Over time the manta goes through many changes until it is finally only useful as a bookmark (marcador de libros). When she loses her bookmark, Maya realizes that she can write the story down. And when she is grown with a little girl of her own, she tells that story to her. A 2016 Charlotte Zolotow winner and highly recommended, the book is written in Spanish and English. Ages 4-8.

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best

Zulay, who is blind, wants to be treated like other kids in her first grade inclusive class. And, mostly, she is. She and her three best friends love to sing and dance, and help each other in math, reading and art. Zulay also receives instruction from a special teacher and with her help participates in Field Day activities as her friends cheer her on. Produced in print/braille for ages 5-8.

Our Great Big Backyard by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager

Written in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of our national parks, this book recounts the story of a family’s summer vacation to five parks. Jane, the oldest child who spends a lot of time online, thinks the outdoors is boring, but learns eventually that what she discovers is actually quite exciting. Suggested for ages 6-10.

The Slowest Book Ever by April Pulley Sayre

This book is made for sampling, page flipping and rereading. It can be read from back to front or the middle to the end or beginning. Read it slowly, re-read it. The book offers its readers slow nature, slow animal thoughts, slow plant facts, slow geology facts and other wonderfully slow stuff. The Slowest Book Ever will be enjoyed by children who like reading facts about anything and everything. Grades 3-7.

The Storyteller's Candle (La velita de los cuentes) by Lucia Gonzales

This warmhearted Spanish/English bilingual story is told from the perspective of two newly arrived Puerto Rican children who are made to feel at home in New York City because of a gifted storyteller and librarian, Pura Belpre, the first Latina hired by the New York City public library system. Grades K-3.

The Three Questions (Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy) by Jon J. Muth

Nikolai is a boy who believes that if he can find the answers to his three questions, he will always know how to be a good person. He asks his animal friends these questions: “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” The simple Zen-based exploration shows a child who, in doing good deeds, finds inner peace. This simple and direct message is a wonderful reminder for children of all ages. Suggested for ages 5-9.

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

This book tells the story of Aref Al-Imri, an elementary school student living in Oman. When his parents tell him that he will be moving from Oman to Ann Arbor, Michigan, he becomes very sad and refuses to pack his suitcase. His mother reaches out to his beloved grandfather for help. Together, Aref and his grandfather go on a series of adventures. At each stop, his grandfather finds a small stone to slip into Aref’s suitcase, momentos of home. Winner of the Middle East Best Book Award for intermediate students.

This year we are offering another set of three books in one volume. All have a common theme: children and their feelings. The books are:

The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up by Bradley Trevor Greive.

This story explains what a blue day feels like, what may cause it and how to get over it. The story is told with great humor and is useful in helping young children understand uncomfortable feelings and what can be done about them. Grades 2-4.

Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly

Emily’s life is a little mixed up. Her dad has moved out and everything is changing. “When Picasso was very sad,” says Emily, “he only painted in shades of Blue. And now I am in my blue period.” Grades 1-5.

When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

This is the story of Sophie, who is teased for drawing a unique picture of a tree and then is teased about it. Sophie’s teacher helps her classmates see the value of accepting the beautifully different picture. In turn the children learn that it is not good to tease one another for being different or doing things differently. Grades 2-4.

Please remember to submit your order by December 15, 2016 at the latest, using the accompanying order form; send it only to the address on the form. You may continue to order print/braille books for early readers in either contracted or uncontracted braille. Books for older readers may be ordered in hard copy braille or e-files. Just indicate your preferences on the order form.

Teachers, please work with your school librarians to make them aware of our project and answer any questions they may have. Likewise, please alert the parents with whom you work about our project, especially those who do not have ready access to school libraries; this group may well include the parents of preschool blind children. You should receive your books in the spring of 2017 before school dismisses for summer vacation. Many thanks for using our service!

Special Book Project Committee Members,
Sandy Adams, Cindy Collins, Mary Ann Damm, Marilyn Harmon, Alison McKee
Email contact: skadams@tds.net