How can we get the message of understanding the needs of the visually impaired to the next generation of children? This question was something that a friend and I were discussing when he suggested using a book that meant so much to him as a child. In 1957, James Garfield wrote Follow My Leader, about a young boy that struggles with the challenge of becoming blind. Follow My Leader was reprinted in 1994 and is still available at most book stores and online.
The Following is a review of Follow My Leader: Eleven-year-old Jimmy doesn’t know what to do with himself when he is blinded by a firecracker in a freak accident. The usually energetic boy, who loved playing baseball, and going camping is quickly taken out of commission, and left to live the rest of his life in the dark. All alone. But that notion is quickly swept out of Jimmy’s head when he begins working with Miss Thompson, a therapist who opens up a whole new world for Jimmy, one where he can walk by using a cane, and read by using the method of Braille. But when Jimmy is given the chance to have his very own guide dog, he’s ecstatic. He quickly packs up his belongings, and heads to the School for the Blind where he will learn to get around without his cane, cut food by himself, and, best of all, get his very own guide dog! But getting used to working with Leader – his dog – isn’t as easy as Jimmy originally thought it would be. In fact, sometimes it can even be a bit complicated at times. But Jimmy knows that if he wants to make it in this cruel world he’ll have to try as hard as he can to make things work with his eyes, Leader.
This 192 page adventure could be a resource that your club uses to promote the issue of visually impairment for students ages 9-12. One idea you might want to consider is picking a 4th or 5th grade class and giving each student a copy of the book. Most schools would love the idea of have this service project done for their students. If your club decides to do such a project please send photos of your members passing out the book. Who knows, one of these children that you have given Follow My Leader, might become a future Lions member.