They all helped me read

March 19, 2015 • Posted in blindness, Braille, Uncategorized, visiting schools, Writing for Children by

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.

I made it through the reading--with help from all these kids.

I made it through the reading–with help from all these kids.

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.

Rudy Lubov On March 19, 2015 at 8:33 am

How generous of Blue Marlin!

Rudy J. Lubov

bethfinke On March 19, 2015 at 8:47 am

Yes! Blue Marlin gave Tutoring Chicago a 40% discount on each book, and then funds from sponsors and average folks who donate to Tutoring Chicago helped offset the rest. What joy it was to be part of a program where so many people come together to help these kids and their families.

Laura On March 19, 2015 at 9:18 am

I just love this post. Love thinking about the kids and their copies of the books, and everyone reading along.

Pam Berman On March 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

How sweet! Beth, I’m struggling along myself wanting to learn Braille, seeing the great advantages to being able to read, but reading Braille
is tough! Thanks for this post, it inspires me to keep on!

bethfinke On March 19, 2015 at 2:08 pm

You are very welcome. My recommendation: Maybe head over to Tutoring Chicago for reading help from the kids — they are great motivators!


Janet On March 19, 2015 at 9:49 am

I love this! Thanks – made my day.

bethfinke On March 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Glad to share. Those kids made *my* day, too.


Maria LaPlaca Bohrer On March 20, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Beautiful experience for you and the children, Beth! I wish I lived closer, I would love to read Sofia’s Stoop Story: 18th Street, Brooklyn to them.

bethfinke On March 20, 2015 at 9:31 pm

They. Would. Love. It.


Jean Spencer On March 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Hi Beth..What a great idea..the kids helped you and you helped them to continue to read..Miss you, Jean

bethfinke On March 22, 2015 at 12:21 am

You should know –as a retired teacher, you helped so many to learn — and love — to read.


djmiller2 On March 22, 2015 at 11:31 am

Beth, unfortunately I can’t make in to this next Weds. Memoir meeting. My grand daughter Zoe & girl friend are coming for a visit. See you next session. Joan M

bethfinke On March 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm

…and that’s a really great compliment coming from you, considering all the time you spend reading with kids, readingwith rhythym. THANKS!


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