10 Storybooks for Children with Visual Disabilities

Last spring Nathan added a new diagnosis to his already long list.

Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI)

It is hard to explain CVI. There is not a ton of research on the disorder. In fact, it was not something that his doctor identified as a medical condition. But his school visual impairment (VI) teacher noticed there was something different in the way Nathan was processing what he saw. (Kudos to the school!) She referred us to an optometrist specializing in low vision.

After that visit we learned that Nathan has a vision impairment. However, it is not because of the anatomy of his eyes, but because of how his brain processes information. The VI teacher best explained it to me that it is like Nathan is seeing through a piece of Swiss cheese.

This means we have to use different techniques to get him to pay attention.

  1. High contrast images/backgrounds

  2. Uncluttered pages

  3. Light

  4. Movement

  5. Also, my unprofessional mom opinion is toys/books with texture help him visually pay attention to what he is touching.

Since his CVI diagnosis, I’ve been paying careful attention to which story books he likes. Ones that aren’t too babyish, because he is five after all. The books he goes back to over and over again are those with bright, primary colors. Some of the artwork is simple and some surprisingly complex and he’ll study the page for minutes at a time.

Also, he loves bears and puppies. We have lots of both.

Paddington

Nathan used to have a stuffed animal that looked like Paddington. He was obsessed with Paddington Bear. His very first teacher got him this book as a Christmas present and it has turned into a Nathan classic. I love the white backgrounds and colorful images. The illustrator uses lots of primary colors to help the characters in the story pop off the page. This books also has lots of words on each pages, which gives Nathan time to process the story through images. He loves looking at the characters’ faces and this book is a good one for all around meeting his visual criteria.  

I Know Jesus Loves Me

My mom found this book in a little gift shop in her beach community. It was a gift for Mac before Nathan was even born, but it made the move over the Nathan’s shelf a couple of years ago. The message is important and never gets old. The images are beautifully done. In addition, to using primary colors on light backgrounds, it includes a little boy in a wheelchair. (I love that!)

LEGO City: Build this City

The LEGO City series is one of Nathan’s favorites right now. So much so, that I’ve had to tape the binding back together three times. The way LEGO City pictures have a black outline, helps Nathan pay attention to the story. Also, he’s obsessed with crawling into Mac’s room to dig out LEGO people

Sammy the Seal and Danny the Dinosaur

These books are written and illustrated by Syd Hoff. He is an artist on many levels. His illustrations are outlined with a black line, which again helps Nathan focus on the contrast of the pictures telling the story.  

Pig the Pug

Oh my word, we love this storybook. I found it at our school’s book fair when a second grader said this would be a great read for Nathan. She was right. Not only are the images simple and bright, but the story rhymes. The rhythm of the reading along with the pictures of puppies capture Nathan’s attention every time I read it to him. There is now a whole line of Pig the Pug books.

We’re All Wonders

I am a big fan of the original book, Wonder. It is a young adult novel about a boy named Auggie who lives with a facial deformity. He deals with all sorts of rejection by his peers based on how he looks. We’re All Wonders is a book for younger readers based on the same storyline. The images are high contrast and the story that goes with it is one that resonates with me, and Nathan’s brother, in a special way.

I Spy Pets

This book uses single images per page of different pets. It is designed with a cut-out feature that let’s the young reader guess which pet is on the next page. It is a very interactive book.

Stripes for Eliana

This is a story about a little girl with Cri du chat syndrome. One of our local friends who has a child with CDC wrote this book after her daughter was born. It is based on the tradition that families and friends of people with CDC wear striped socks–one long, one short–during Cri du chat awareness week to show their support for people missing part of their chromosomes. And be sure to check out the illustration of Nathan in the front of this book with all of his CDC friends.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Everyone loves Clifford. That big huge RED dog is great for getting Nathan to visually attend to the page. The puppy pops off the page and he can identify the dog in no time. There are so many Clifford books. We especially love the hardcover ones because they last longer with my little reader.

Alpha Prints

These board books are super simple pictures using a finger or thumb print to create the image. There is a raised texture to the image, which helps Nathan attend better. We got the whole library of different categories: colors, shapes, animals, etc. This set is targeted to a much younger audience but we are using these to help build his sign vocabulary as well.

These books are great for anyone with small children, but especially if they have visual or other challenges processing information.

I’m constantly collecting ideas for resources that are helpful for Nathan. Can you think of other high contrast books that I haven’t? Have a child with CVI? Post your comments below. 

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My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!

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