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Activity and strategy

Tactile Alphabet Book

A parent shares tips to make your own tactile books at home!

My daughter Anelia came to us in 2014 from Bulgaria. She basically sat in a chair for her first six years so she is considered “globally delayed.” She is fully blind from ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) and has “significant hearing loss” in her right ear.  She is non-verbal at this time and enjoys tactile sign language.
She loves to read books, but I think she struggles to understand half of the content.  I wanted books to have meaning for her and I wanted a way to increase our signing vocabulary. So after seeing the inspiring posts of Liam’s Mom, I decided to take a stab at making our own books!
four children looking at the tactile book, they are sitting on the floor and the youngest is sitting in one of the older children's lap

Elements of Books I Make

Since literacy is a family affair in this house, all the books I make for Anelia have to have:
  • an engaging story (I’m a stickler for engaging children’s literature). This can be with the plot or with a lovely cadence that entices the reader.
  • pictures that mean something to my sighted kids, from our picture library if possible.
  • tactile elements for my two daughters, Anelia and Mabel, who are blind and braille (our lovely TVI Miryam Vesset did the braille for this book).
  • words that mean something to Anelia and Mabel, preferably from their daily routines or an experience they’ve had.

Anelia looks at the piano page with her brother and sister.  Anelia with her brother


Putting the Story Together:  Anelia Likes…

I put together this story on a whim, using 4 letters I think Anelia is in the beginning stages of recognizing.  The items I choose to go with each letter are favorites of Anelia.  


Anelia likes a!  A is for apple.  Big A for Anelia.  Little a, Big A, hooray!
Anelia likes b!  b, b, b;  b for bells; b for banana;  b for ball
b for books; b for bath;  Anelia loves to swim in the bath!
Anelia loves m! m for mama; m for music
Big M for Mabel; small m; Big M; m m m
Anelia likes p!;  p is for piano;  p p p;  Anelia plays piano ppp! 
Anelia loves s!  s s s; s for swinging; s for sister
Anelia gives kisses to her sisters Mabel and Olive and they give kisses right back!  Kiss! Kiss!
    a page in the tactile book showing things that start with the letter a        a page in a tactile book showing items that start with b, like banana, bell, and ball   
a page in a tactile book showing items that start with b, like book, and bath       a page of a tactile book showing items that begin with m, like mama, music, and more
Big m is for mabel   Piano page
Swing page  Kiss page
I put all the items on Velcro so she could take them out and play with them and we could use them later to retell the story using our All in One Board.
two children sitting on the floor with the tactile book, they are handling tactile objects that are velcroed in to the book
I still don’t have anything for apple, banana, and swing, but I have a trip to the craft store and Home Depot planned.
The last picture is of the signs for the book. Anelia is using tactile sign and loving it, so we are using book reading as a way to increase her signs (and mine!) (Thank you Liam’s Mom for this idea!)
a piece of paper with the signs for book
I really want to expand our library with more experience books for Anelia and Mabel.  I have made other books to show body parts and my son Jericho (10) made one for Mabel’s birthday that had different textured papers in it.  
I had a lot of fun making this book and customizing it with words Anelia would recognize.  With just a simple idea I think I’ve created something we will be reading for many years.

wooden braille blocks

  • Various items attached with velcro. Attach the prickly side of the Velcro to the items so you can use them on an All in One board. 

items attached to a page in the tactile book including sample piano keys

  • A story I made up with lots of real pictures printed off my computer.
Student making orange juice with a teacher using a juicing machine.
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