It should come as no surprise that I love books and turn to books especially when it comes to children’s books. I’m a librarian, after all. When Zoe first got glasses, I set out to find some good books for a young toddler in glasses. And I came up pretty short. There are certainly books about glasses out there (our book list is a testament to that), but very few of them speak to the experiences of a young toddler or baby. In fact, if I had to characterize the books out there, they almost all fall in to one of two categories:
- Main character wears glasses. Their friends tease them about the glasses, so they try not wearing their glasses. Usually funny hi-jinks (going into the wrong bathroom, misidentifying something, etc) ensue. (ex: Arthurs Eyes, Princess Peepers).
- Main character’s friend gets glasses and the main character is super jealous, even though their friend doesn’t really want glasses. Usually funny hi-jinks ensue as the main character tries to find ways to convince their parents and eye doctor that they really need glasses. (ex: Fancy Nancy: Spectacular Spectacles, I really absolutely must have glasses).
- Some books combine both plot points (Pearl and Wagner: Four Eyes)
Of course, there are some books out there that don’t fall into those categories. And falling in to one of those categories doesn’t necessarily mean that a book is bad – there are some fantastic books out there. But the fact remains that those scenarios aren’t really ones that our very youngest kids in glasses will encounter. And after you’ve read a few with the same story line, they can start to feel a bit contrived.
But I feel like recently there’s been an upsurge in books that are written by parents of young kids with vision issues, or even written by people who had vision issues growing up. I can think of a few off hand:
- Princesses wear glasses, by Kristin Ellsworth
- PatchLand Adventures series, by Carmen Swick
- Samantha wears a contact lens and patch…just like you, by Juliette Vignola
- Jacob’s Eye Patch, by Beth Kobliner Shaw and Jacob Shaw
- I can see just fine, by Eric Barclay
- My Travelin’ Eye, by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (who has had strabismus since birth)
- Randy Kazandy, where are your glasses?, by Rhonda Fisher (whose brother got glasses at 17 months)
- I’m certain I’m missing some — please leave comments with other books that I missed!
There are some things that set these books apart. The books tend to be more positive. The glasses or patches or contacts are a part of the kids’ lives, but the stories tend to show more of the kids doing normal things. And there are more of the little details about what life is like after the initial period of adjustment is over: In Samantha wears a contact, you see that sometimes mom has trouble removing her contact. In I can see just fine, there’s a glimpse of just how dirty our kids’ glasses get (all the time). In Jacob’s eye patch, we see just how often kids and parents are asked about eye patches.
And now there self-publishing, which has allowed some of the books mentioned above to be published. When I talked with a children’s book publisher about a board book idea I had (stay tuned!!), I was told that the audience for the book was just too small. Board books are expensive to print, but don’t sell for very much, so publishers want a guarantee that the books will sell a lot of copies. But now that more and more books can be printed on demand, it makes it more possible for parents to write books that reflect our experiences and get those books out to others in similar circumstances. Even if the group is small, the experience can be shared. And I think that’s a fantastic new change!
I know that there are many books written by parents in our community currently in the works:
- Alison Joyce has a Kickstarter for her board book, “I see. You see. We ALL see!” Take a look and please consider supporting her!
- Cynthia Davis is working on a book, “My Bright Blue Glasses”, planned to be out in November, 2013, that follows the journey of a toddler “who had to deal with learning he has to wear glasses, patch and go to vision therapy.” She’s also working on another book targeted at older kids.
- I will be launching a Kickstarter soon for my own board book that features photos of babies and toddlers in glasses with rhyming text that celebrates the role of glasses in a child’s life
- I’m certain I’m missing some — please leave comments if you know of other book projects that should be included.
If you are working on a book that relates to young children with vision issues, please, please let me know. I would like to help you get the word out about the book you’re working on! I will also continue reviewing and sharing traditionally published books – as far as I’m concerned, the more books out there for our kids in glasses, contacts, or eye patches, the better!