Thursday, January 24, 2008

Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures

Sullivan, George. 2007. HELEN KELLER: HER LIFE IN PICTURES. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780439918152 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

Most biographies rely on text to tell the story of a life in words. Biographies for younger readers often rely on illustrations—the more brightly colored, the better—to give life back to the life being presented. This biography of the indomitable Helen Keller is organized around photographs, many published for the first time, that show her spirit and intelligence even as they clearly document her lack of sight.

Photographs, depicting Miss Keller’s parents, her childhood home, and of Helen at various stages of her life, appear on each page, leaving less than a third of each page for text. This generous sizing allows the reader to study the details and contrasts of each picture, and coincidentally makes the book easier to share with a larger group. Each page number is represented in Braille as well as Arabic numerals; extensive back matter includes a chronology, bibliography, photo credits, index, Braille chart, and sources for further reading. This is an excellent introduction to the life of Helen Keller.

The name “Helen Keller” is presented in raised Braille lettering on the book jacket; have the participants feel this and discuss it. Where else have they encountered Braille lettering?

If you feel comfortable with the activity, pair children for a “blind walk” with one person guiding his/her blindfolded partner. Switch roles, then discuss.

Other books about Helen Keller:
Dolan, Sean. HELEN KELLER. ISBN 0516252690
Gibson, William. THE MIRACLE WORKER. ISBN 0743457587
Miller, Sarah Elizabeth. MISS SPITFIRE. ISBN 9781416925422

By Julie Brinker

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