sensitive storytime

Sensitive Family Time at Maple Grove Library


On Sunday, June 9, Maple Grove had its first Sensitive Family Time™ event. The event was designed to bring families who are living with a child on the autism spectrum into the library “after hours.” In this case it was a Sunday morning before opening from 10:00 to 12:00 pm, with a room reserved until 1 if the families wanted to stay after the doors opened to the general public. CEA worked with Melissa Marts at the Maple Grove Library to create this safe space for families to explore the library and discover literacy.

Nineteen people attended. There was a therapy bunny and a therapy dog from North Star Therapy Animals and their volunteer handlers who enjoyed meeting the children and being read to. Kids loved seeing the inner workings of the library on a tour of the library, and each child picked out a book from the library’s summer reading program to take home. We also had printed literature and resources available for parents, and, of course, signed people up for library cards.

Melissa proposed this program because she felt there was a need for an inviting space for families living with autism. Libraries are considered quiet spaces, but often times they aren’t. One family drove from a different county, so she could bring her son to this event. It was his first time at a library. All the parents expressed that this was a rare event to be able to bring their child to a library. One parent said that her daughter is overwhelmed by all the patrons during regular hours. Other parents said there was usually anxiety related to coming to the library, worrying that their child might disrupt patrons. All the parents were thankful they had an opportunity to bring their child to the library free from anxiety.

Overall, this was pretty easy to organize, and it did not disrupt the Maple Grove’s Sunday morning workflow. All parents expressed interest in attending again, as well as participating in a Sensitive Storytime. We will be sure to share other events like these at area libraries. If you are interested in hosting a Sensitive Storytime™ event at your library, contact us!

Author: Editorial Team

A select group of our board members who have something to say, but want to say it together. We also use this byline for those who wish to write anonymously.


  1. What a fantastic idea! I guarantee that your library activity will only be the start of great things for so many of the children and families you welcome there on their terms! Libraries have always been a refuge for my now 20-year-old son. He could barely talk, but was reading by age four, and books became his bridge to understanding, verbalizing, and teaching people that he was so much more capable than his behaviors might let on. In middle school, he began working in the school library, worked there all through high school, and continues to volunteer there every day, even two years after graduating. He has been told by the principal and librarian that he can volunteer as long as he wants. He says “Forever!” His freshman year in high school, he went to our town librarian to ask about volunteer opportunities for community service hours. She put him in charge of photography at the cemetery. He photographed over 1,000 gravestones for the town archives! After graduation, he went back to our wonderful town librarian and asked about volunteering. Since fall 2013, he has been in charge of scanning back issues of the local newspaper for the town archives. To him, it’s a great gig. He likes the order of the scanning procedure, loves to re-read the newspapers, AND gets to hang out in the library looking at his favorite books when he’s done.

    • What a testament to the power community spaces have to support our kids! Libraries, in particular, are designed to enhance the power of special interests. Thank you for sharing ways in which your son is enjoying success while helping the community! Thrilling to know this is possible for our kids.

Thoughts? Post 'em.

Your contributions help Communities Engaging Autism as we adapt to these trying times – innovating with our programming and content to reach parents, families and educators where they are.
%d bloggers like this: