Elementary school teachers commend me for struggling to sound out words when I read from the Braille version of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound during school presentations. “That’s what we’re trying to get our kids to do!” They tell me, assuring me I needn’t apologize for my poor Braille-reading skills. “It’s good for the kids to see a grown-up working so hard to try to read — it convinces them to try hard to read, too.”
Monday evening my Seeing Eye dog and I visited Tutoring Chicago, a non-profit organization that offers free one-to-one tutoring services to economically disadvantaged children in grades one through six. Thanks to the generosity of donors, sponsors and my publisher, Blue Marlin Publications, every child in the group of first and second-graders there was presented with their own print copy of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound to read along with me.
During other school presentations, I only get through the first couple lines of Braille before closing the book and giving up., but these kids on Monday wouldn’t let me quit!
Anytime I struggled with a word or couldn’t sound it out on my own, one of the kids would read on from their own book or give me a clue so we could sound it out together. It was magical.
Only problem? It took us so long to read together that we didn’t have much time for question and answer time. The kids didn’t seem to mind that, though –as long as there was enough time for me to autograph their books in print and in Braille they were happy. And what a coincidence – so was I, knowing that each and every one of those curious and high-spirited kids in that group would be leaving that night with their very own brand new book to read at home.