In honor of Helen Keller’s birthday today, June 27th, we’re granting access to the following books for free for an entire month—the top five most researched narratives about Helen Keller. For information on the many ways Helen Keller has inspired young people to make a difference in the world, check out the June 26, 2012 post, “Who Stole Helen Keller?” from the Media dis&dat blog.
- The Story of My Life: The Story of My Life is one of the most memorable works chronicling the amazing life of Helen Keller. Written by Keller herself, the book recounts her journey through life living without the ability to see or hear, as Keller lost her hearing and sight at a very young age. She notes, “illness which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby” (Keller 7). It was her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who would make a huge impact on her life. Perhaps one of the most enlightening moments in Keller’s memoir is when she begins to attach meaning to the words that she has learned. “As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other hand, water, first slowly, then rapidly. I knew then what “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand” (Keller 23). [Keller, Helen, and John Albert Macy. The Story of My Life. New York: Doubleday, Page, 1903. Questia. Web.]
- Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy: This book delves into the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. Authored by Joseph P. Lash, the book explores the pasts of both Anne and Helen. Anne was diagnosed with “trachoma when she was about five” (Lash 4) which left her vision impaired. Both women came from different backgrounds but the impact they made on each other’s lives is evident through the pages of this book. [Lash, Joseph P. Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub., 1980. Questia. Web.]
- The Radical Lives of Helen Keller: Authored by Kim E. Neilsen, The Radical Lives of Helen Keller delves not only into her education and her relationship with Anne Sullivan, but it also talks about Helen Keller’s other interests. “Joining the Socialist Party of America in 1909, Keller became an advocate of female suffrage, a defender of the radical Industrial Workers of the World, and a supporter of birth control and the unemployed. She became an inveterate fundraiser and political lobbyist. She followed international politics closely, never failing to form strong opinions on international matters. She became one of the nation’s most effective but unofficial ambassadors, visiting over thirty countries” (Neilsen 7). [Nielsen, Kim E. The Radical Lives of Helen Keller. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Questia. Web.]
- Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard: This book, authored by Professor Lois Einhorn “removes from mind the lingering image of the young Keller and supplants it with that of a mature, still highly tenacious woman who lived her life with vigor and courage” (Einhorn xvii). This novel explores some of Keller’s most famous speeches and how the power of the spoken word from one individual can make a huge difference. [Einhorn, Lois J. Helen Keller, Public Speaker: Sightless but Seen, Deaf but Heard. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Questia. Web. 20 June 2012. Roethke, Theodore. The Lost Son, and Other Poems. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948. Questia. Web.]
- “The Celebrity of Helen Keller” in Booknotes: Stories From American History: This work is a compilation of various stories about our American history. “The Celebrity of Helen Keller” was written by Dorothy Herrmann and explores the fascinating life of one of America’s most beloved women. Herrmann’s written work outlines her various relationships with the deaf community, primarily her relationships with Alexander Graham Bell (who had a deaf mother and wife) and Michael Anagos, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind (the first school for the blind in the country). [Herrmann, Dorothy. "The Celebrity of Helen Keller." Booknotes: Stories from American History. New York: Public Affairs, 2001. null51-184. Questia. Web.]
Visit our topic page on special education for additional research on learning and developmental disabilities.