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Birthday Book: Involving Friends and Family in Braille

The mother of a boy who is deafblind shares ideas on inviting family and friends to help to create a tactile book to celebrate his birthday.

Our Liam turned 5 last week and his little brother Finn turned 2 the week before. Liam and Finn celebrated their birthdays together with family and friends by having a birthday party at our house.  For those of you who don’t already know, my son Liam is deafblind.

This year, all of the guests created and brought a tactile page for Liam, to combine together to create a “birthday” book.  

Mother and son looking at tactile book together
The author looks at a tactile book with her son.


  • I slipped a cardboard page of a book, 3-hole punched and labeled in braille, with the invitations to the party and an instruction sheet that went something like this: I thought a fun theme, for Liam’s birthday book this year, would be a “shape book”. 
  • I will assign each family a “shape” it will already be labeled in braille for you on the page. 
  • Take whatever shape you were given; try to find items that have fun texture that match the assigned shape. For example, if you were given “square” you may glue a square tile onto the page or a square piece of sand paper. You could also use “puffy paint” to draw a square. You can also use any household item that you can find that is a square. You could use the squares to make a design if you want. You can add one square or 20 to the page. (If you want more than one page let me know!) 
page with a basketball and baseball
Cardboard page with a tactile sticker or a baseball and a basketball with the word “circle” in braille
page with different sensory items glued on
Cardboard page with different sensory items glued on and the word “rectangle” in print and braille
page out of the braille book
Cardboard page with “square” in print and braille


  • Use the most “heavy duty” glue you have to glue the items onto the page (super glue or hot glue work). 
  • Please make sure that the items you glue to the page are thin (no thicker than ½ inch) or it makes it hard to close the book. 
  • I will have a binder ready to go, so when Liam opens his “pages” presents, we can put them into the binder right away! And that way he knows they are gifts from individual people.

The birthday book was a HUGE success! It was a great opportunity for our friends and family (who are very involved and want to do things for our Liam) to create something for him, using braille. They did an amazing job. Liam LOVED opening up the pages and putting them into his “Happy Birthday Book” binder. He has read it just about every day at home, and also takes it to preschool with him every day to read at school. He can tell you who made which page. I am already thinking ahead to what themed book we should make for next year!! 

stars on braille birthday book
Tactile stars with “star” in print and braille
braille birthday book with hearts
Tactile hearts with “heart” in print and braille
braille book with diamonds
Tactile diamonds with “diamond” in print and braille

Purpose of Liam’s birthday book:

  • Reinforce the learning of shapes.
  • Recognizing the braille word for the shape and matching it with the tactile shapes on the page.
  • and MOST IMPORTANTLY, supporting his love for reading in a way that is meaningful and fun for him. 

Here are some other ideas for a birthday book:

  • Numbers, counting
  • ABC book
  • Texture book
  • Concepts such as: small/big, soft/hard, same/different, etc…
Birthday book collage: Involving friends and family in braille

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