A new kind of story time at Chicago's libraries

In 2014, Civic Consulting Alliance and pro bono partners Bain & Company, The Greatest Good, and McKinsey & Company helped the Chicago Public Library develop a three-year Strategic Plan. Among the plan's recommendations, providing more services for families with special needs stood out as an important but unmet need. According to the CDC, one in five children nationally experiences a developmental disorder.

Following the Strategic Plan mandate, the Chicago Public Library recently launched its Sensory Story Time program to engage children with sensory processing issues such as autism spectrum disorders. Caregivers can now bring children age 5 and younger to open-attendance, hour-long story sessions conducted by a librarian in a safe space.

Books with popular themes are chosen. Activities with props and music stimulate involvement, and a visual schedule alerts children to what comes next. Stories are followed by interaction and play time, which build confidence as well as motor and social skills. The program has been enthusiastically received by parents and librarians.

"Sensory Story Time supports our Strategic Plan priorities for Chicago families with young children and is part of providing best-in-class programs and services to advance early childhood learning," said Brian Bannon, commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

Sensory Story Time supports our Strategic Plan priorities for Chicago families with young children and is part of providing best-in-class programs and services to advance early childhood learning.

Brian Bannon


Commissioner

Chicago Public Library