Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning to Read Again

I have found myself recently intrigued with the concept of Braille. Reading with your fingertips. Braille is named for its creator Louis Braille, who became blind after a childhood accident. Braille created a series of raised dots positioned variously in cells which allow a visually impaired person to read.

I've always been interested in non-verbal ways of communication. Body language, sign language, and more recently reading Braille. I am amazed in our ability to get information in other ways that just speaking.

I'm also intrigued with the learning process, especially one of an adult. In the film The Reader, the main character Hanna Schmitz is illiterate well into her adult life. Her character becomes incarcerated in a women's prison and ends up showing us all it's never to late to learn to read and write. Hanna receives books on tape read and sent to her by an old friend. She finds one of the books, The Lady with the Little Dog, that she has on tape in the prison library. Taking it to her cell, after checking it out, she begins to quickly discover her ability to teach herself how to read as an old woman. In this short scene, we watch as she listens to the tape, follows along, and discovers what sounds go with which letters. The very first word she reads is "the".

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't remember learning how to read myself. Obviously as adults in a highly educated society, reading is something we easily take for granted. That is why I want to try to learn a little bit about Braille. I want to put myself in Hanna's or even a child's shoes again. I want to feel (no pun intended) what it is like to learn something like that again. 

The book I found was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It is written in both Braille and printed letters so I can match each letter I can visually see with the letter below and try to learn how to read by feel. I will keep you in tuned with my learning process.