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Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Grolier Club's "Famous 100" Children's Books Named: Many Are Available in Alternative Formats

January 5, 2015

"One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature" is on display for a limited time in New York City. Many books on this curated list that once were only in print are available from AIM-VA partners including Learning Ally, Bookshare, and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

This means that students with print disabilities whose parents and educational teams qualify them during the IEP process, can have the books in hand in the formats that best help them learn independently. Alternatives to print include audiobooks and PDF formats that permit students to interact with text to aid learning. While the books always can be read aloud by a parent or reader, accessible educational materials in some 12 possible formats may be the better road to learning for students who enjoy learning or are ready for acquiring and using information on their own.

What Is The Grolier Club?

Chosen books were selected over a five year period by the Grolier Club, a private society of bibliophiles that was founded in 1884. In this exhibit, curators says that literature for children was "forged from the same enduring elements as literature for adults" with:

  • Powerful narrative
  • Unforgettable characters
  • Illustration that stirs the imagination, and
  • Insights that engage the mind and heart

The books were printed between 1600 to 2000. Those chosen have "shined for generations" with landmark fame in their own time and many rose to classic status. Some of the books include:

  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Treasure Island
  • Peter Rabbit
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Peter and Wendy
  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Make Way for Ducklings
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Harry Potter

Other beloved books on view include The Velveteen Rabbit, Millions of Cats, The Story of Babar, Story of Ferdinand, Madeline, Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, Le Petit Prince, Eloise, Goodnight Moon, The Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The exhibit runs until Feb. 7, 2015 and features some 50 historic artifacts such as original book art and illustration, autograph letters, manuscript drafts, antique toys, early dolls and games. See antique horn books and ivory alphabet discs. Check the Grolier Club website for hours and directions.


Accessible instruction is increasingly comprised of alternative formats when print is a barrier to learning. Under federal education and copyright laws, students may be found eligible for selected free educational materials. Both textbooks and trade books in print that school owns can be converted into the formats that help students participate in grade-level content. These materials, some of which are used with assistive technology such as text to speech reading software, increase the opportunity for independent learning.

All states have a counterpart to AIM-VA. Contact a special education teacher or school administrator to learn more. Anyone can check the AIM-VA site to see the books that are avaiable from Learning Ally or Bookshare. Go to the AIM-VA homepage, click on "Find Books." Fill in the information and be sure to use the drop-down menu to see "all" results. If a book is not listed, each state has a process for converting books. For students who are newly eligble in the Commonwealth, free teacher training is available that speeds along the process of putting an accessible book into the hands of learners who require them.


Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson