Over the past twenty years libraries have been transformed. Once quiet, intimidating spaces where children could be seen but never heard, libraries now let the vibrant life in their book collections spill off the shelves and into their family-friendly spaces. Story times too have been revamped. No more sitting motionless staring at the cover of a book while someone reads aloud quietly in a back corner. Music, puppets, dance and interactive play define kid-focused gatherings that promote many ways to access literacy skills in young children.
Yet with all these changes, there are still ways in which we can make libraries and story times in particular more accessible to families living with autism. That is why we have developed a Sensitive Storytime™ training for youth librarians. This training gives a basic understanding of autism and how it impacts literacy in particular. It then goes on to give practical ways that librarians can adapt their story times for families living with autism and how to help parents access and promote literacy skills in their young child. We have also set up Sensitive Storytime™ boards on Pinterest.
We were pleased to be part of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency’s (MELSA) panel on this topic in December. There we learned about exciting work being done by local libraries and made connections with future partners. What an amazing group of professionals who understand how education about autism transforms how we support our community. We envision a future where we partner with all libraries to create safe spaces for families living with autism to learn and grow. We’re excited to present our full training to this group on April 3, 12:30 to 4:30 pm at the Westcott Library in Eagan. Join us there or host this presentation for your staff!