Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Language Experience Books

Experience Stories and Tactile Books


Experience book showing flashlight and telling about trip to low vision clinic.Experience stories, tactile books, and object books all provide an entrance to the world of literacy, using concrete materials relating to the child's own life. In general the language used is simple and based on key vocabulary within the child's own experience. Pages usually have braille, print, and real objects or partial objects attached to each page. It is often helpful to use a three-ring binder, as pages tend to be thick.


Tips for making tactile books:

  • When choosing tactile items to attach to a page, be sure to think about it from the child's perspective. For a child with limited vision and other disabilities, it is important to select real items or pieces of items that a child has touched as part of the experience. In other words, a raised line drawing to represent a tree is less meaningful than a piece of bark. Cotton balls do not represent clouds to a child who is blind, but rather leaves or a handful of grass may be a better way to represent being outside. Similarly, a matchbox car is visually similar to a real car, but will have no meaning to a child who is blind with additional disabilities. A better way to represent a car may be the buckle of a seat belt or part of a car seat.
  • Include print and braille on every page, even if the child is totally blind. This is important for other people who are reading the book, and will help to give the child continued exposure.
  • Have the child participate as much as possible in the creation of the book, including choosing the topic, telling the story, selecting the items to "illustrate" it, and attaching the items to the pages.

For more information, see also Tactile Experience Books on this site and Experience Books from Washington Sensory Disabilities Services with specific directions on how to create your own Experience Book: Experience Book Directions

 Photo courtesy of Deirdre Leech