Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin


Image from Goodreads

Cottin, M., & Faria, R. (ill.) (2006). The black book of colors. Berkeley, CA.: Groundwood Books. ISBN: 9780888998736

Annotation: Thomas, who is blind, describes experiencing colors using his other senses, and his descriptions are accompanied by braille translations and raised line drawings, allowing sighted readers to imagine what it would be like to read through touch.

Reaction: The language of this color book is simple, but the concepts presented are complex, and I don’t think younger audiences would understand or appreciate what the book is trying to accomplish.

I think this book would be really useful as part of a classroom exercise about diversity and tolerance for 5th graders. Students could try reading the braille and identifying the illustrations simply through touch.

This book won the New Horizons Prize at the 2007 Bologna Children’s Book Fair (from Booklist Review by Kristen McKulski

This book is on the 2011 Students’ List for “Books receiving votes for Top Ten Favorites from students in Summer 2011.”

Media Used: Raised black line drawings on black paper.

Author’s Website: None

Illustrator’s Website: None


2 thoughts on “The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin

  1. I used this book in a Read Aloud session and would like to share my chief takeaway: this is a difficult book to read to a class (at their desks or gathered on a rug) because of the need to touch the pages. I love the concept, and think it would be great as a small-group activity (3 or 4) or a lap reader for the occasional younger child.

    My other takeaway, which wasn’t really a surprise at this point in my life, but which may surprise 5th-graders: Braille is HARD! Reading the tiny little dots with your fingers takes sensitivity and care; it’s a lot more difficult than learning to read another visual language.


    • Yeah, I’m not sure if this would be possible, but I was thinking that each kid should have a copy during a read aloud, with the lights off or the kids blindfolded or something. Reading it with small groups is also a good idea.

      Also, I’m pretty sure that I would have had NO IDEA what any of the pictures were if I weren’t able to see the reflections of them, ha!


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