Books on the Blog: Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Lynne Dorfman
Fabulous! Inspirational! Captivating! Award-winning author Jen Bryant has created another masterpiece with Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille. In this touching story, Bryant gives us the fictionalized voice of young Louis Braille, capturing the full range of emotions as he confronts his blindness and becomes a teenage inventor who makes his mark on the world.
From an early age Louis Braille loved to spend time with his father. An accident in his father’s workshop led to an eye infection that eventually caused his blindness. Luckily, he had a family who loved him and tried in every way to help him. A big decision that probably changed his life – Louis was sent to a school for the blind in Paris.
In this passionate tale, we learn that young Louis was driven by his desire to read everything and anything. But books were not easy to come by, and the words written for the blind were so large…
“C’est tout? “Is that all?” I asked.
“There are more,” the guide replied. “But they’re just like this one.
Words as large as my hand! Sentences that took up half a page! I sighed. Even if I read a hundred books like this, how much could I learn?
A great companion book for More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby, a story about Booker T. Washington, both stories inspire children to think about the joys of being a reader. Bryant’s book is about loss and achievement, wonderful for elementary and middle school readers who also face big and small challenges. Perhaps the best thing about this book: By focusing on a young inventor, the students in our classrooms can realize that they do not have to wait until they are finished with school to make a difference in their school, their community, or world…they can do it now!
Before reading the book, students can think about the significance of the title of Jen Bryant’s book. Like author Robert Burleigh, Bryant is providing a slice of life here, not Braille’s entire life story. Readers can describe Louis through two or three character traits, citing evidence using both text and illustrations from the book to support their responses. They can study Boris Kulikov’s incredible illustrations and page layouts and think about how they contributed to the understanding of young Louis Braille’s story. They can focus on how Bryant used the senses, particularly sounds, throughout this book. Students may decide to research to discover information about Braille’s later years. Some students may want to learn more about other young inventors. Be sure to read the backmatter, including Jen’s author’s note and additional resources. Students might enjoy writing a “slice of life” biography for an everyday hero they know well, continuing to find out interesting details through interviews.
Publication date is September 6, 2016. Brava, Jen Bryant! Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille is a winner!
Lynne Dorfman is a 1989 PAWLP fellow and a Co-director. She is currently working on a second edition of Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6 with her co-author Rose Cappelli.