Blogger Renee Grassi

Too Many Choices! Books to Read During Sensory Storytimes

How do you select the right picture book to read to an audience of children with special needs?  A few years ago, I blogged about tips and strategies for those of us selecting books for special needs storytimes.  While I still use this criteria today, now I’ve come across a slight problem.  I will admit, it’s not exactly a problem…  With all the fabulous picture books published every year, how do you even begin to choose what to use for storytime?  This list is just one place to start.  So, whether your library hosts its own Sensory Storytime program, you’re just searching for books to read to an inclusive audience, or you’re just looking for a great readaloud, this list is for you!


  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
  • Dog’s Noisy Day by Emma Dodd
  • Jump! by Scott Fisher
  • Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira
  • Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin
  • Stick! by Andy Pritchett
  • I Went Walking by Sue Williams


  • Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
  • Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood
  • Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
  • Cleo’s Color Book by Caroline Mockford
  • What Makes a Rainbow by Betty Schwartz
  • Knock! Knock! By Anna-Clara Tidholm
  • The Deep Blue Sea: A Book of Colors by Audrey Wood

Rhymes & Songs

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider by Richard Egielski
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines
  • Five Little Ducks by Annie Kubler
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Down by the Station by Jennifer Vetter
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It by James Warhola
  • The Wheels on the Bus by Paul Zelinsky

Renee’s Favorites

  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • A Closer Look by Mary McCarthy
  • If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
  • Wave Goodbye by Rob Reid
  • Press Here by Herve Tullet
  • Banana! by Ed Vere


What are some of your favorites?  Share them below! 🙂


  1. Ashley Waring

    Very useful post as usual, Renee! I was just working on putting together a color theme for my sensory storytime this Saturday. 🙂 I have been doing my sensory storytimes for almost 2 years now, and it’s funny how many of my favorites overlap with your list. “Down by the Station” by Vetter, any Pete the Cat books by Litwin, “Press Here” by Tullet, and “Dog’s Colorful Day” by Dodd are all on my list of go-to favs. I also really like “If You’re a Monster and you Know It” by Emberly (I have visual supports that illustrate the body movement the kids should do during the book/song), “It’s My Birthday” by Oxenbury (I have felt ingredients the kids help put in a bowl, then I “mix” it, and we put a felt cake and candles on the board and sing Happy Birthday), and “A Circle in the Sky” by Wilson (I have felt shapes that match the colors in the book; the kids help build the rocket, then we count down and it blasts off! – ie: I lift the felt board up into the sky).
    I also love Wheels on the Bus but have had a lot of success doing it on the iPad. I found images of parts of a bus using Google image search and just put them together in a photo slideshow. As I flip thru the images, the kids label the part of the bus and then we sing that verse.

  2. Renee Grassi

    Great ideas, Ashley! I especially love your idea about adding visual supports with “If You’re A Monster and You Know It”–do you use Boardmaker images? And I’m totally stealing/borrowing your idea for Wheels on the Bus for my next special education visit. I really like the labeling activity. I love how we librarians learn from each other all the time. It’s what makes our profession so great! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ashley Waring

      Hey Renee,
      No, I don’t use Boardmaker. I just use Google images that I think are clear and understandable or Microsoft clipart. I also put the word below the picture for more clarification, for those children who can read. I am doing Deep Blue Sea tomorrow! Do you sing it? If so, what tune do you use?

      1. Renee Grassi

        I don’t sing it, actually–that’s a great idea, though! What tune do you sing it to?

  3. Holly Jin

    We are so on the same wavelength! I just presented a color-themed Sensory Storytime last Saturday. And yes, I, too, used Dog’s Colorful Day with flannel pieces. I also like to use ASL for the colors and numbers in the story. We then follow up with a poster-sized Dog and dirty him up with Do-A-Dot and Mr. Sketch smelly markers (you could do the same with Lunch by Denise Fleming). And, no surprise, I also made A Circle in the Sky flannel, but because I don’t like the look of the square as the fire I changed that line to: “On the bottom I will use two trapezoids…to blast off toward the asteroids.” My favorite things to do after a story that ends in space or bedtime is turn the lights down and give each child a glow-in-the-dark stick (Michael’s 12/$1.00). We use a simple action rhyme to move our sticks about and then sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” And to finish things off, a sensory box with multi-colored craft pom poms turns out to be a fun mess! Thanks for this post Renee – and for the visual support idea, Ashley!

  4. Kate Easley

    Awesome resource, thanks Renee!

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