Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Helen's Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's Teacher
by Marfe Ferguson Delano
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Into a world of silence and darkness, one ray of hope shone. But this ray couldn't be seen or heard; it could only be felt. That ray of hope was Annie Sullivan. For deaf and blind six-year-old Helen Keller, Annie's hands became her salvation, forming letters into young Helen's hands to teach her about the world she couldn't see or hear. Helen's hands on Annie's lips and throat gave Helen a chance to hear sounds she couldn't. Teacher Annie Sullivan gave Helen Keller a chance at a life as normal as could be offered to a deaf-blind person at the turn of the 20th century.
Annie Sullivan is the focus of 'Helen's Eyes' a photobiography full of fascinating pictures of Annie and Helen and their life together. Helen was six when she met Annie and had already been blind and deaf for four years. She was uncontrollable, a strong-willed girl who wouldn't obey but was curious about the world around her. With Annie, Helen met someone just as strong-willed as she, who wasn't about to admit defeat in the face of a child.
Annie herself had had a difficult childhood. Orphaned and abandoned to an asylum not known for it's comforts, Annie lost her eyesight while young until an operation restored it enough so that she could learn to read and write at 14. Graduating from the Perkins School for the Blind, Annie was offered the post of teacher to Helen. Determined to succeed with the little girl, Annie taught Helen the manual alphabet, unlocking the world and creating a relationship that would last until Annie Sullivan died with Helen holding her hand.

Annie's story is fascinating. Her dedication to Helen was life-long, a commitment that many questioned but most marvel at today. If you're looking for inspiration, check out 'Helen's Eyes'. I think you'll find Annie Sullivan to be a person to respect, admire, and yes, even look at as a role model.

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