Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday Shout-Out: The Black Book of Colors (Cottin)

AUTHOR: Menena Cottin
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Groundwood Books
ISBN: 9780888998736
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: picture book
GIVE IT TO: all; it's perfect for any grade level  

SUMMARY: Uses all-black pages to describe colors via smell, taste, feel, and sound. Includes both text and braille words. The images are also made up of braille-like raised dots.

We have a new picture book section in my library, which serves students in Grades 6-12. I was new at my school last year, and I was sad to see that we did not previously have a picture book section in our teen library. I think that is a huge shame. There are so many fantastic picture books for teens and tweens. Once I created the section and added some books, my students quickly fell in love with it, too. Many students check them out to read to younger siblings, but there is also a nostalgia in reading picture books that teens love. The picture books are also great for English language learners (we have many at my international school). Further, they are a fantastic way for students to read and learn traditional stories from other cultures, and many allow students to emotionally connect with historical events. Yeah, I love picture books!!!

Anyway, one of the most popular books in my growing picture book section is The Black Book of Colors. This unique book has been popular with both students and teachers. Not only does it give students a chance to feel braille in a book, it could also serve as a great way for students to think about imagery and how they might describe something without describing what it looks like. For teachers, this book could be used to introduce imagery or as a writing prompt. For students, it is simply a beautiful, unique book that allows them to experience braille, likely for the first time.

My only complaint about this book is the "shallowness" of the braille in the book. I also had The Black Book of Colors in my previous school library, and over time, the braille flattened with use. Students will still get the gist of it, but true braille is deeper on the page and easier to feel.

TIPS FOR BOOKTALKING The Black Book of Colors:
  • Include in a booktalk of other picture books in your library. If you are working with older students, discuss the merits of picture books and why older students would want to check them out.
  • Use to introduce a booktalk featuring blindness, deafness, and other physical disabilities. Could also include books about teens with "sixth senses" and other supernatural senses.  


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