Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start? As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions: The location of the program- Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues. Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision. Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius. Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Storytime

Sensory Storytime Progression

In early 2012 I decided I wanted to create a Sensory Storytime at my branch. After watching a few webinars, making contact with the Autism Society of Central Virginia, and talking with local teachers I began to design my program. I decided it would run in three week sessions on Saturdays and that I would offer it quarterly. It was designed for children on the spectrum ages of 3-6 years. I checked out our copy of The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun by Kranowitz and selected a variety of activities that I thought would work. Our Friends bought us awesome play items including no spill toddler bubbles. Our first Sensory Storytime was in October 2012. I was blown away by the response! The most phenomenal part for me was watching parents talk with each other while their children played after storytime. They were all dealing with similar struggles and it was…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Technology

Begin Your Sensory Storytime Today!

Many librarians that I have talked to are reluctant to start a sensory story time. Familiar refrains that I’ve heard go something like this:  I don’t know the first thing about children with special abilities; I don’t have specialized training; I don’t want to do the wrong thing and upset a child who already has special needs; I didn’t go to library school to do sensory storytimes; don’t I need a really big grant in order to secure materials for something like this? Much has been written about how to begin a sensory storytime. We won’t cover that here.  There’s plenty of stuff out there for you research, plus we’ve included some references below.  However, you should know that you’re probably already equipped to do a sensory storytime right now!  Joshua Farnum, the play, and active learning specialist at Chicago Public Library has started a string of successful sensory storytimes…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers

A Public Library, Trained Volunteers and an Early Childhood Center Partnership – Providing One-on-One Language Support to Enhance Early Literacy Services for Special Populations

Does your library offer one-on-one early literacy outreach to special populations? Skokie Public Library aspires to creatively reach the youngest members of our diverse community.  We provide storytime outreach to preschools and early childhood centers, but these visits are limited in scope and are generally performed for larger groups of children.  Realizing that group dynamics limit the effectiveness of dialogic reading, we set out to create a space for regular, one-on-one, interactive reading in a child care environment. How did we achieve this goal while being mindful of staff capacity? We partnered with a like-minded and respected early childhood center to send trained volunteers to reach each child.  The volunteers cultivate one-on-one relationships through their weekly visits where they read, rock, sing and play with the children.  By sharing these experiences the children bond with the volunteers and develop a love of language. We initially targeted children ages 0-3, being…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Blogger Renee Grassi, Committees, Library Design and Accessibility, Professional Development, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play

So much learning happens through play. Play can help children practice language, motor skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. Many of our libraries may already include free play as part of our storytime programs for young children to support this growth. We may not realize it, though, but there are many barriers to play that exist for children with special needs.  Some of the kids in our communities may not be equipped with the skills to play without accommodations or support. So it’s important that we develop strategies to be inclusive and enable access to play for all. Coming up with accessible and inclusive play-based activities and games for storytime programs can be a challenge if you do not have a background in occupational therapy or special education. Thankfully, there are a variety of up to date and valuable resources at our disposal to help us learn about inclusive play-based…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers

Library Service to Refugees and Immigrants

In light of the current political and social landscape around the world, there has been an increase of refugees abroad and here at home. With the imminent arrival of more refugee children and families from Syria and other war-torn regions, how can we assist these families in assimilating to their new home? How do we find out what their needs are so we can provide them with critical information about literacy, social services, jobs and other resources? Libraries have long been a champion of freedom of access to materials for all walks of life. How do we leverage our commitment to equitable access to meet the needs of refugees, many of whom are vulnerable children? Certainly the efforts of REFORMA have been well documented in promoting library services to Latinos and Spanish-speaking refugees. It has provided children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala backpacks of books and other resources when they arrive…

AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee, Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, What I Wasn't Taught in Library School...

The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is now live!

It’s grant writing time, and for many public libraries, grants are the main driver of funding for new and existing programs. It’s a stressful time, both for those writing the grants, and those awarding them. The best advice I can give is to be selective! Research what grants are available to you, and make sure what you’re asking for fits the selection criteria of the grant being awarded. Once you’ve identified a grant that matches your needs, review previous grant winners to see if you can identify what made that winning program stand out from the rest of the applicants. Also, work with your program staff to be sure your information is up to date and relevant. Avoid rhetoric and hyperbole. Try to provide anecdotes and testimonies that demonstrate need or previous success. Be specific about outputs and outcomes. The proposal should explicitly state expected practical, tangible outputs. Don’t be…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Early Literacy

Partnering: Early Literacy and Early Intervention

We all love finding great partners in our community! One of my favorite community connections is the amazing staff at Early Intervention which is a part of our county’s Infant & Toddler Services. Libraries and Early Intervention are a natural complement to each other’s services. We target similar ages and both have a strong focus on early childhood development. Our relationship with Infant & Toddler Services began two years ago when we offered a county wide inclusive playgroup. Our librarians developed the play ideas and Jessica, a social worker from Early Intervention came and played with us. We didn’t attract many families who were already receiving services but it did offer a wonderful opportunity for Jessica to talk with families about any developmental concerns. It was so powerful! There probably isn’t a parent in the world who hasn’t had questions about their child’s development at some point. Right!?! This program…