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SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info -Blind - Loss of Sight
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians


Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles, movie titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story and song titles are in italics.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World

There's a wonderful story in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart by a person who went blind in early childhood. It's autobiographical - more of an essay really - but it's interesting in that the author learned to compensate for his loss of sight - mainly because nobody told him he couldn't. Very interesting, and might be adapted in some way. It's written in the first person, however.

2) Annie Dillard has a chapter called Seeing in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perrennial Modern Classics) that makes interesting reading. A lot about people who had their sight restored after having been blind - some hated it so much they went around with their eyes closed...

3) Aaron's Storybook -- The Man Who Sang to Ghosts
Here's a good story - about a Biwa Hoshi who sang to ghosts. It tells about the Biwa Hoshi, too - they were a class of blind bard/priests in Japan....

4) Minnesota Public Radio Music presents Sounds Irish - Harper's Bizarre
Here's an interesting one - the spirit of a blind itinerant harper kept a man sane while he was held hostage in Beirut. Later he tells the harper's story....

5) There's a great documentary film called Genghis Blues, about a blind American blues singer, Paul Pena, and how he goes to Tuva to compete in a tradtional throat singing contest. Put Genghis Blues in any search engine and you can read about it. It's a really heartwarming story.

6) The Seal Oil Lamp: Adapted from an Eskimo Folktale and Illustrated With Wood Engravings (deArmond, Sierra Club Press) Eskimo story. Beloved blind child is left to die during a hard winter. He is saved by the friendship of the mice, whose child he had spared. They teach him stories and hunting songs. He survives the winter and becomes a great hunter and shaman.

7) Nonikwe and the Great One Marimba - Zulu tale found in Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan. Original source is Indaba My Children: African Folktales by Vusumazulu Credo Mutwa. Nonikwe is blind and hunchbacked but has the gift of prophecy and intuition. Outcast by her father, she is taken in by an uncle. She identifies the great queen Marimba, who is visiting in disguise. Marimba rewards her by making her headwoman of her father's village and with the gift of the first mukimbe - a kind of xylophone made of reeds.

8) The Blind Man Catches a Bird in Margaret Read MacDonald's book Peace Tales.
See also:

9) The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen. Although it is a literary tale, Jane Yolen is also a storyteller on occasion and sometimes tells her own work and can write with that oral ear. I have found her to be generous when I asked for permission to tell one of her stories.

10) The Dark Princess by Richard Kennedy about a princess so beautiful that anyone who looked at her directly was struck blind. The princess uses this as the ultimate test of love for any suitors who want to win her hand but none would lose their sight for her. The court fool professes his love to her and she proposes the same test to him. What does he do? It is a good story with a typical Kennedy twist.

11) Perusing tomes in search of poems, came across this old chestnut. Thought some of you might like to have it in verse form.

The Blind Men And The Elephant (by John Godfrey Saxe)
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant
(though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the elephant,
And, happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the elephant
Is nothing but a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk.
Cried: "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see, quoth he, "The elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the elephant
Is very like a tree."

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "The elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen!

12) As a teacher, I have worked with visually impaired children in a blended classroom. I think that you just tell your stories - and I wouldn't necessarily look for stoires that feature blind children or people. Rather general stories about with heros and youngsters or the youngest family members who achieve. I'd just choose good stoires that you enjoy telling. Of course, as I give my two cents, I realize that there are stories that I tell that are too "visually orientated," but I think that Queen with the Cold, Cold Heart could be done with it strong auditory aspects. That would be for fun.

For a bit of wisdom story,
GOS #20 ~ More Than a Match By Aaron Shepard

13) Depending on the age of the children, The Cruel Sister features a blind harper summoned to play at the wedding of the surviving princess (who had drowned her siser in the sea in order to win the prince). Journeying to the palace, the harper stops by the sea (here you can do a lot with the sound of the wind across the waves which make him pause there), puts his hand into the waters and takes hold of the drowned girl's breast-bone. This he fashions into the harp. Again he puts his hand into the waters and takes hold of her long golden hair. This he fashions into harp strings. At the wedding the harp plays of its own volition (I mention the wind coming across the sea again which causes the strings to play). And the harp sings: My sister she drowned me. The cruel sister meets the appropriate fate. The prince silently takes the harp and places it in an open window of his castle - where the winds coming across the waves always make it play. At least, that is the way I tell it. I think it is a Scottish tale and we have discussed it a few times before. It is also quite well-known as a ballad.

Created 2004; last update 7/12/09