5 Ways to Make Book Reading a Sensory Experience for Your Child with Special Needs

5 Ways to Make Book Reading a Sensory Experience for Your Child

Reading a picture book aloud can be an active and engaging activity for your child with the use of some simple strategies. Here are five ways how you can make reading a picture book aloud to your child more of a sensory experience

1. Add texture to the book

Add texture to a picture book by using a hot glue gun to attach material that is appropriate. For example, if adapting the book, Old McDonald Had a Farm, use a glue gun to attach a cotton ball to the sheep. As you are reading the book, prompt your child to touch the sheep and describe how it feels (e.g. soft, fluffy, etc.).

As another example, for a classic book like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? use a hot glue gun to attach a small piece of fur on the brown bear. Attaching texture to a book can be very helpful to those children who are tactile learners and/or visual impaired.

2. Use props and/or visual aids

Using visual aids and/or props can be helpful for many reasons. What are visual aids or props? For example, this can be a felt board set, sequencing cards, miniature objects, etc. One particular reason for using props and/or visual aids is to help aid your child in retelling the story.  Having a child feel and manipulate the visual aids and/or props while you read the story can help make book reading time a more enriched and engaging experience.

3. Use sounds

As you are reading the book, have your child create sounds to go with the actions in the book. Are sounds difficult for your child to make? Model the sounds for them. For example, when reading How to Train a Train, encourage your child to say “Choo Choo.” For Old McDonald Had a Farm, encourage your child to imitate animal sounds. When reading my book The Monkey Balloon, I encourage children to make sounds for the school bus, monkey sounds, etc.

If your child is minimally verbal or non-verbal, use augmentative and alternative communication for the sounds (e.g. Big Mack or Step by Step Communicator).

4. Use scents and tastes

This is an interesting strategy when reading a book. This may not work for all picture books but be creative! For example, when reading Penguin and Pinecone I use a pinecone as a prop but also use it for the interesting and woodsy scent.

What does the pinecone smell like? Describe the scent to your child and compare and contrast it to other smells. You can also experiment with taste! When reading Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, I use a piece of chocolate for both scent and flavor. The chocolate also can be used a prop until it gets eaten up!

5. Get up and move!

When reading a particular book, get your child to get up and imitate certain movements. If the character in the book is swimming, imitate a person swimming. If the character is jumping like in Five Little Monkeys Jumping on The Bed, get up and jump!

I hope you find these tips helpful! Please comment with your own book reading ideas in the comments below.

Becca Eisenberg

Written on 2015/01/05 by:

Becca Eisenberg

Becca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her blog www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience. She discusses the benefits of reading to young children during mealtime, shares recipes with language tips and carryover activities, reviews children’s books for typical children and those with special needs as well as educational apps. She has worked for many years with both children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings including schools, day habilitation programs, home care and clinics. She can be reached [email protected]