Why We Need Sensory Storytimes

In my area, libraries are bringing back their pre-pandemic range of programs, but one program is mostly missing: sensory storytime. I live in a busy, urban area, and yet in my entire county, only one library system has a weekly sensory storytime. My family needs a disability-friendly storytime if we’re going to be able to attend. For Autism Acceptance Month, let’s talk about why these types of storytimes are so important, and why they can be so hard to get (or keep) in the line-up.

Toolkit: Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders

The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee is devoting the 2020-2021 calendar year to creating a vibrant, dynamic toolkit that provides ALSC members with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations. Each toolkit page will provide professional and leisure reading recommendations, support for programming, and materials for families.  As dynamic documents, these pages will continue to grow and develop as we find new resources, share our experiences, and continue to learn. This month, our focus is serving children who have autism and other sensory processing disorders.  As our understanding of these children and their needs increases, libraries are recognizing an important role in supporting these families in their community.  This may involve specialized resources, adapted programming, and community partnerships to support children and their caregivers.  We are hoping to use this opportunity to bring awareness to the unique considerations of library service to this population, provide support…

Librarians are Experts in Sensory Play

Nearly two years ago I wrote a guest post for ALSC entitled “Sensory Shenanigans! Starting a Sensory Play Time at Your Library.” I’ve planned and led many sensory play times since then, and have learned a few tricks to keep this program sustainable.  Needless to say I was a bit idealistic when I first started: I thought it would be entirely reasonable to lead such a program once a month, and maintain the one hour set up and one hour clean up.  I’m now going on three years of Sensory Play Time and many, many iterations of the program. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned: Messier isn’t always better Because I branded this program as “all of the messy stuff you see on Pinterest and don’t want to do at home,” I worked myself into a corner.  I felt like I needed to have the messiest and…

Toddler Explorations: Sensory!

When I started rotating programs for Toddler Exploration, I knew I wanted to include sensory experiences. Sensory experiences/activities are important because of the importance of tactile experiences (especially because so many kids are getting lots of screen time- which is cool- but they need other experiences). Also, I’ve always believed that the library is a place for kids to get messy and explore!

Sensory Storytime: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Program

Have you been considering offering sensory storytimes at your library or doing outreach to a school serving children with developmental delays? Maybe the reason you’ve hesitated is because you feel unprepared. I get it: Sensory storytime can seem intimidating, with its own particular structure and style. But this is an incredibly important area of service for any library to undertake, reaching children who often otherwise feel unwelcome in a storytime space.

Sensory Storytime on a Shoestring

What does it take to do a sensory storytime? Not a whole lot! Our award season for our committee’s annual ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way” Grant is closing, and we typically see many hyped-up proposals for sensory storytime programs. This is not to say that we don’t take such proposals seriously, because we do, but we think that people feel like they need a ton of money and resources to pull off a successful sensory storytime when in fact all you need is a little bit of planning and a wee bit of money. After all, a sensory storytime should aim to be inclusive. To that end, if you’re using a visual schedule, a varied format that incorporates multimodal sensory integration, and repetition, then you are probably appealing to children with varying sensory processing abilities and thus, already doing a sensory storytime, just not in name. Don’t wait for the…