The Black Book of Colors

by Menena Cottin
Grade K-5


Living with the use of one’s eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way.

Discussion questions from SOMN

  • How do you understand and describe colors if you have never seen them with your eyes?
  • Discuss communication with students. As a class, list the different ways in which human beings can communicate with one another, e.g. speaking, nonverbal gestures, sign language, writing (emails, letters, text messages), signaling. How do students prefer to communicate? Face to face, via SMS? Why?
  • The Black Book of Colors uses several different methods to communicate an idea to the reader. Ask students to identify these methods.
  • Who was Louis Braille? Ask students to research Louis Braille and share their findings. Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille is an excellent source. What did students find surprising or interesting about his life?

Classroom activities from SOMN

  • Create a class book of colors. Ask children to draw a picture of something that represents a color and write a sense that corresponds to their picture.
  • Using the Braille alphabet from the book, or an online translator, have students write a short acrostic poem about their favorite color.
  • Show students items such as print-Braille and large print books, Braille and large print rulers and tape measures, a Braillewriter or slate and stylus, a talking and large print calculator, a talking dictionary, a coloring screen, Braille and large print playing cards, a bell ball etc.
  • Create your own tactile book ensuring that the materials used reflect how the item would really feel.