Monday, October 25, 2010

Little black book

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin (535.6 CoB 2008 PIC BK) can be used to engage kids on many different levels, cognitively, emotionally and physically.

In this book, a young blind boy tells us what colour means to him. Colours become associated with things that stimulate his other senses, such as the taste of red for an unripe, sour strawberry or the pain a scraped knee, yellow for the soft feathers of baby chicks,the tart, fresh taste of lemon ice cream for the colour green or for the "king of all colours", black, the feel of his mother’s silky hair.

The book also provides its own textual associations; we can feel Braille text as we read the narrative at the same time.  Because the pages are black, the illustrations (also in black) have been done in glossy, slightly raised relief. The images catch in the light as the pages are turned, begging the reader to rub their fingers over the whole page.

As far as classroom usage, this book makes great connections to science units about the senses, blindness (also health) and colours.  The Black Book of Colors would make an interesting addition to art lessons, as well.

Literature often takes us into the lives of others showing us places that we can’t or won’t go, both in terms of real places but also places found only in the heart and mind. The strength of this boy’s ability to ‘see’ colours despite his blindness allows us to understand and empathize.  No big drama here.  He just ‘sees’ his world a little differently than we do.


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