Updated: Apr 24, 2022
At the end of each month, the Coalition for Literacy Equity is proud to shine the spotlight on guest bloggers. These writers will share topics that are of pressing importance to them, all while connecting to the Coalition’s larger mission. We welcome Debra Bonde, founder of Seedlings Braille Books for Children.
In the work to build literacy equity, we cannot overlook children who lack reading materials that accommodate their physical disabilities. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is dedicated to increasing the opportunity for literacy and education by providing high quality, free and low cost braille books for children ages 0-21. In 1984, Debra Bonde founded Seedlings, braille materials were scarce and expensive – over $100 for a braille book! Her goals were to increase the availability and lower the cost of braille books for children with vision loss in order to promote their literacy skills and the love of reading. Currently, the Michigan-based nonprofit not only distributes books, but also offers programming to support literacy development for children with vision loss learning to read in Braille.
"I am forever grateful for the services you provide to families and teachers of children who are blind or visually impaired. Thank you for giving the gift of literacy." – Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Seedlings' braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is keeping visually impaired children in the mainstream of popular literature and is reaching braille readers in all 50 states and over 75 foreign countries. Currently less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to them. Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Seedlings offers four free braille books to provide children with vision loss and teachers of the visually impaired braille books.
In 2021, with a small staff, and a group of loyal volunteers, Seedlings produced over 35,300 braille books and articles (63% of which were given away for free), with a grand total of 644,258 since 1984, equaling over 25 million pages of braille! We sell the rest of our braille books at a loss, for an average of $10 per book.
"The low-cost of Seedlings' books, as well as your generous grants, have made it possible for us to grow our home library with books from many genres and reading levels. At this stage, I especially appreciate the Braille-Print books as they provide a wonderful opportunity for Elizabeth to read side-by-side with me or a sibling. Thank you for helping us lay a solid foundation in Braille literacy. We couldn’t do it without you!” - Mother of eight-year old reader
Seedlings aims to get more braille books into the hands of children who need them and to add more titles to their braille book collection. Helping children read is life-changing for them, and for all of the literacy advocates who are involved with Seedlings.
For more information, see the following: