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A Professional Development workshop for Children’s Services library staff, presented by Sherry Norfolk, co-author of Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs (Libraries Unlimited, December 2017)


The American Library Association (ALA)’s Intellectual Freedom Manual states:

The American Library Association recognizes that persons with disabilities are a large and often neglected part of society. In addition to many personal challenges, some persons with disabilities face economic inequity, illiteracy, cultural isolation, and discrimination in education, employment, and the broad range of societal activities. The library plays a catalytic role in their lives by facilitating their full participation in society (ALA Council, 2009).


Offering a storytime for children with special needs is one way public libraries can develop literacy skills in children with disabilities and support their caregivers and families.

This highly interactive workshop will address…

• Why sensory storytimes are important,

• What a sensory storytime is, and

• How to offer sensory storytimes effectively.

Participants will…

• Explore and understand the concepts of the Universal Design for Learning and how these can be applied to library storytimes,

• Experience a wide variety of sensory storytime strategies and activities,

• Work in small groups to develop and share ideas for sensory adaptations of stories,

• Investigate effective approaches to program logistics, marketing, and dealing with disruptive behaviors, and

• Leave with at least one sensory story to share immediately (props and all!).

About the presenter:

Sherry Norfolk is an award-winning storyteller, author and teaching artist, performing and leading residencies and professional development workshops nationally and in SE Asia. A former Children’s Librarian and Coordinator of Children’s Outreach Services with Miami-Dade (FL) Public Library, and former Youth Services Coordinator for the DeKalb County (GA) Public Library, she is a sought-after professional development trainer, leading workshops for Oklahoma State Library, Arkansas State Library, Kansas State Regional Libraries, LYRASIS, Northeast Florida Library Network, Anchorage Municipal Libraries, Arizona State Library, Hawaii State Libraries, Kansas City (MO) Public Library, Missouri State Library, Utah State Library, Louisiana State Library, Georgia Public Library Services, Metrowest Massachusetts Regional Library System, Miami-Dade Public Library System, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis County Public Library, Singapore National Library, and Knox County (TN) Public Libraries. As a performing artist, she is a dynamic storyteller, telling well-crafted and age-appropriate folktales from around the world. As a teaching artist, she uses storytelling as a strategy for teaching preK-12th grade curriculum.


Sherry works extensively in self-contained special needs classrooms as well as inclusive classrooms, and has presented workshops and webinars for VSA-Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the use of storytelling with diverse learners as well as leading workshops on storytelling strategies for inclusive classrooms for the Kennedy Center’s CETA program. In addition to Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs, she has co-authored four books on using storytelling in the classroom: The Storytelling Classroom: Applications across the Curriculum (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom (Libraries Unlimited, 2009), Social Studies in the Storytelling Classroom (Parkhurst Bros., 2012), Science with Storytelling: Strategies for the K-5 Classroom (McFarland, 2016), and is an Adjunct Professor at Lesley University. Sherry is a recognized leader in integrating learning through storytelling.


Sherry’s experience as a teaching artist and consultant on storytelling for children with special needs At-a-Glance:

• Presenter: professional development workshops for the CETA Professional Learning Series at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: “Diverse Learners: Storytelling across the Curriculum.”

• Presenter: Workshop at the 2014 & 2017 Kennedy Center-VSA Intersections Conference, “Leveling the Playing Field: Storytelling in the Special Needs Classroom,” “They hate to write!”

• Presenter: 2015 Kennedy Center-VSA webinar, “Teach Them to Fly: How Storytelling Gives Primary-age Children with Special Needs Their Wings.”

• Presenter: “Sensory Storytimes: Inclusive Strategies for Reaching All Children,” NEFLIN, SWFLN, Utah State Library, St. Louis Public Library, State Louis County Library, University City Public Library, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Kansas City (MO) Public Library, NWKLS, SEKLS.

• Co-author: Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs. (Libraries Unlimited, December 2017); Article for Kennedy Center-VSA Newsletter: “Seven Tips for Using Storytelling to Engage Students with Disabilities.”

• Trainer: Two professional development workshops for SPED teachers and teaching artists for the Mississippi Arts Commission: “Arts Integration in the Special Needs Classroom.”

• Trainer: Singapore National Library: “Programming for Children with Special Needs.”

• Trainer: Atlanta-Fulton (GA) Public Library: “Programming for Children with Special Needs.”

• Trainer: Anchorage (AK) Municipal Library: “Sensory Storytimes.”

• Teaching Artist: VSA-Kennedy Center 2015-2020 contracted residencies through Springboard-St. Louis, in self-contained classrooms in the Special School District of St. Louis County; Tennessee-VSA residency for high school students with special needs, and dozens of residencies and student workshops in inclusive elementary and middle school classrooms in Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut and Mississippi.


For more information on Sherry Norfolk, visit For booking information, scheduling and fee structure, please contact: Sherry Norfolk 404.401.2737

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