A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David Adler is a great inspirational story that can speak to today's child, although Helen Keller died in the late 20th century.
About Helen Keller
Helen Keller lived at a time when infectious diseases often killed people or caused lifelong illnesses and disabilities. She, like many other people of the era, did not receive routine vaccinations like today's child, and so was at risk for sicknesses like the one that affected her sight and hearing. She was not born blind and deaf, but a childhood illness left her that way.
At first, her family did not know what to do for her. Being blind and deaf affected her and her family in a negative way; she was allowed to be near feral in behavior as her parents didn't make much effort to instill any manners or genteel upbringing, although she was born and raised in the post-Confederate Southern U.S. where ladylike behavior was highly prized in girls from her background.
In time, however, with her parents' bringing Anne Sullivan into her life, Helen Keller learned to communicate with the world around her. Eventually, she would write a dozen books (including an autobiography), become a political activist and a huge inspiration to many people, including those who could see and hear.
Talking to Children about Helen Keller
Illnesses like pneumonia or scarlet fever are not as prevalent today as they were in Helen Keller's time, so parents will need to explain to their children how these sicknesses affected the people of that era, as this may be a foreign concept to kids who routinely get vaccinated and don't suffer from anything more serious than the common cold.
It can be especially helpful for children who can see and hear how Helen Keller lived. Maybe you can help a young child understand how much of their world would differ if they were blind and deaf. Blindfold them and put earplugs in their ears and then tell them to try to get around! They'll see how difficult it is and perhaps come to a greater appreciation for all that Helen Keller achieved in the face of her disabilities.
A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David Adler
Why present your child with A Picture Book of Helen Keller? While older kids can read a chapter book or biography, younger children benefit from books with lots of illustrations. David Adler's book is targeted to children ages 4 to 8 and can help them better comprehend the struggles that Helen Keller went through and how she eventually triumphed to become so famous and inspirational.
Highlights of the Book
Parents who are looking for a complete biography of Helen Keller won't find it here, but remember, this book is for very young children who are just beginning to learn to read. There are many other full-length, more detailed biographies available for older children.
- Illustrations: Alexandra Wallner's watercolor illustrations are clear and easy for young kids to understand.
- Focus on subject: Adler focuses on many things Helen Keller did in her lifetime, including some of the less-positive aspects, such as how she treated those around her when she lived in her nearly feral world, before Anne Sullivan came into her life. He details how she began to understand that everything had a name for it, such as "water" and "doll."
- Helen Keller's activism: Helen Keller was very involved in causes such as women's voting rights and opposition to war. She did not allow her blindness or deafness to interfere with her ability to communicate her message to the world.
Inspirational and Motivational
When it comes to inspirational historical figures, Helen Keller figures largely into this category. She accomplished things that many people who can see and hear don't accomplish. Parents can feel comfortable sharing her story with the youngest children, in a kid-friendly picture book format that may be the beginning of their education about this motivating woman.