For Your Neurodivergent Child: Sensory Storytime at Nora Navra Library

Designed by the New Orleans Public Library and Fish in a Tree

By Marie Simoneaux, Media and Communications Coordinator, New Orleans Public Library July 27, 2023

The New Orleans Public Library’s early literacy team is teaming up with Fish in a Tree’s accessibility experts to present a series of inclusive and accessible Sensory Storytimes next month! Every Friday morning in August, Fish in a Tree educators will visit Nora Navra Library for hour-long programs tailored for families with neurodivergent children, particularly those with sensory-specific needs.

What is Sensory Storytime? 
Sensory storytimes are uniquely designed programs to help families with neurodivergent children engage with literacy and learning in a calm, welcoming, and comfortable space.Each storytime is limited to 10 children in order to keep the programs small and approachable.

By keeping the groups small, we can be adaptive, inclusive, and accessible to all, without overwhelming our participants.

Who are sensory storytimes for? 
The program is designed specifically for children who are physically and developmentally aged 2 - 5 years old and their caregivers.

What makes a sensory storytime different from a regular storytime? 
Sensory Storytimes are designed to help children explore their senses and learn in a way that is both fun and engaging. Each event will feature stories, sensory bins, and more.

These programs have been adapted to anticipate the needs of neurodivergent children in a way that regular storytimes cannot guarantee.

During classic storytimes, children are typically asked to sit still and listen, while sensory storytimes encourage interactive participation. At the beginning of these programs, attendees get a bag filled with sensory materials families can use during storytime, like noise-reducing headphones, fidget toys, sunglasses, weighted lap pads, and communication cards for non-verbal participants, and more.

The contents were carefully chosen to ensure that attendees are as comfortable as possible, which is our top priority for this program. Coupled with movement and structured activities, these adaptations help remove potential obstacles to create a more accessible and engaging experience for neurodivergent children.

Who developed this program? 
The program was designed by the New Orleans Public Library’s early literacy programming team and our partners at Fish in a Tree, with support from the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

What is Fish in a Tree? 
Fish in a Tree is a local community center dedicated to supporting the neurodivergent population through community building, physical and mental wellness programming, therapeutic services, specialized instruction, social and community events, and employment support.

With programs conducted by staff trained in neurodivergent-accessibility and inclusion, Fish in a Tree believes in the Neurodiversity Perspective, which celebrates the natural differences in people's brains, encouraging individuals to embrace their differences to accept themselves, achieve good mental health and well-being, and positively navigate the neurotypical world.

When/where is Sensory Storytime and how can you sign up? 
Every Friday in August, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Nora Navra Library at 1902 St. Bernard Ave. Registration is required. Visit to sign up.

Why is this program important? 
At the New Orleans Public Library, creating equitable programming and services and eliminating barriers is a top priority. While we have frequent early literacy programs at all Library locations throughout the city, this is the first specifically designed to prioritize families with neurodivergent children.

By developing these Sensory Storytimes, we hope to meet these families where they’re at through free, fun, and educational programming designed with them in mind.