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Featuring interactive books, songs, dances and more, storytime is one of the most popular programs offered by Wake County Public Libraries. But for some kids, the environment can be overwhelming.

That’s why, starting this weekend, librarians are adapting the program and offering curated Sensory Storytimes to support children with autism or sensory processing challenges.

“Wake County Public Libraries strives to instill the love of reading and to foster the pursuit of knowledge for all residents of Wake County,” said Wake County Commissioner Cheryl Stallings. “We want to ensure that all children are able to participate in storytime in a way in which they feel the most comfortable.”

These tailored Sensory Storytimes are modeled after traditional library storytimes that use Every Child Ready to Read principles of talking, singing, reading, writing and playing. But they also incorporate other elements to engage children who may find the regular programs to be overwhelming — like smaller audiences, lower volumes, and sensory kits with headphones and fidgets.

Sensory Storytime launched as a pilot at Oberlin Regional Library in May 2019, with approximately 30 children and parents participating. Since then, more than 1,100 people have enjoyed the experience. Now it’s expanding to numerous other Wake County libraries starting Saturday, Sept. 9. You can find a program near you on this Sensory Storytime calendar.

When originally preparing to offer Sensory Storytime, library staff took part in training with the Autism Society of North Carolina. They also worked with a local parents’ group of children with autism to pilot the program. Participants offered feedback and suggestions to ensure it resonated with the target audience.

While these storytimes are geared toward children ages 3 to 5, all ages are welcome to attend. The events are free, last a half-hour and require online registration to help keep attendance at optimum levels. Find dates, times and locations, as well as a link to sign up, on the Sensory Storytime calendar.


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Wake County Librarians Expand Sensory Storytimes For Exceptional Children  was originally published on