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‘The Black Book of Colours’ By Menena Cottin



Cultural notes

Our eyes tell us about colour. But what if you are blind? Can you still know colours? Using simple language and beautiful textured art, this book shows you how to see without your eyes. The pages are black, but using your imagination and your senses you can hear, smell, touch and taste colours

The book is written with braille letters accompanying the text on each page, allowing readers to inspect and gently feel the patterns of tiny bumps that share the same meaning as the letters and words they’re used to.

While the braille included in the book isn’t printed in a way that allows it to be read by blind children, its presence allows sighted readers to consider the similarities and differences between their own literacy and that of a blind peer.

Each two-page spread describes a specific color, and is accompanied with an illustration meant to be seen with the fingertips.

Suggested activities

Group/ Circle Time:

  • Colour: What is your favorite color? Why?, Give children a colour and ask them to name different things that are that colour – including animals, plants, food and items. Choose a colour and ask children to describe what that colour tastes like to them.
  • Senses: Sit outside, ask children to close their eyes for a minute and then ask them what they heard, felt, smelled. Choose something from the room, hide it behind your back and describe it to the children, getting them to guess what the item is.

Art & Craft: 

  • Create your own tactile book  ensuring that the materials used reflect how the item would really feel.
  • Create your own pages for The Black Book of Colour, using black paper and school glue to create raised pictures. Ask children to describe their colour and write this on the bottom of their work

Sensory Play:

  • Do a blindfolded ‘trust walk’

Puzzles/ Games:

  • Instead of catching/throwing a beanbag, have beanbags of different textures that can be matched. Each child gets a beanbag and must pick the matching beanbag out of a basket by touch.

Community Engagement

  • Invite community organisations to visit your service – Guide Dogs Australia offer free sessions where they come out and teach children all about people with vision impairments, including what other people can do to help. They bring along a Guide Dog, as well as letting children put on clouded glasses to see what it is like to have low vision

External Links

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.