Why Your Child with Special Needs Should Be In Storytime and How to Make it a Success

Library programming has changed A LOT in the past decade.  A LOT.  We have gone from traditional story time reading with a paste together craft to interactive story times filled with music, movement, open-ended arts and crafts that encourage individual thought and creativity.  We have gone from book groups with preformed questions lead by the librarian to programs that tie literature into hands-on, thought provoking activities that engage the inner thinker in each kiddo.  We are no longer a community of “shushers” telling patrons to read quietly, but rather we are encouraging conversation and engagement with other children and parents at the library.

The best part of this change in thinking and direction is that it means programming now fits ALL abilities and needs instead of just the needs of children who can sit still and quietly for a story hour.  Still, the fear and misconceptions are out there, especially among our parents who have children with special needs.  I have extended the invite to Storytime for Littles (our baby/toddler story time) as well as Exploratorium (our school-age, STEAM-based programming) just to catch that hesitation followed by a hasty “Well, my child has autism, so I’m not sure they would sit for it,” or “My child has ADHD and I would hate for them to get too wound up.”

I know that response.  That hesitation.  I had it when my child was young.  I have a son who is autistic.  He also has severe ADHD and a sensory processing disorder.  Taking him into settings where I had no control over smells, sounds, and tactile experiences was nerve-wracking.  It could trigger a meltdown and the judging eyes of other mothers falling on us or upset children who felt we disrupted them.  From personal experience I can say, he needed those experiences.  Can I say every experience was a success for us?  No.  What I can say is that every experience gave him a frame of reference for adapting to different social settings (we run at the playground, we walk in the museum). It gave him exposure to new activities and topics, even if it was short-lived on a rough day (seeing new animals at the zoo to talk about versus the pets at home and animals in our neighborhood).  The opportunity to practice social skills at different programs was a major driving reason behind many outings.  Playing with new friends and meeting new people was not always easy, but he did learn how to greet people without being prompted and practice manners with people other than family which helped as he went off to school where I wasn’t there to guide his social interactions. All of this lead to a huge opportunity that is good for any child: the opportunity to gain pride and confidence in himself in any setting.


So what are some tips and tricks to enjoying story time if your child has special needs?

  • Talk to your child about it ahead of time, regardless of their age.  If they are too young to understand, you are providing them with new words to build a frame of reference for what story time and the library are.  If they are old enough, talking to them about what to expect at the program or what behavior you expect from them helps them feel more prepared going into the situation and sets them up for success.
  • Once in story time, let your child explore within reason.  Obviously we encourage them to stay with you and do the activities, be it listening to stories or dancing and moving to song, but we are used to “wanderers” who walk around the room, come up and point to the pictures in the books we are reading to the group, help with the felt board stories, and the list goes on.  They are still getting a lot out of being in the room, hearing the story and taking in the setting.
  • If you want your child to practice sitting during times we have the group sitting to listen to a story but they are struggling to stay still, ask us for a fidget!  We have an arsenal of fidgets and weighted toys that will help satisfy your child’s sensory output needs and use their energy while they are still sitting with the group.  And trust me, though at first glance they may seem distracted, they are actually more mentally engaged than they would be otherwise, absorbing every detail.
  • If it is a rough day and your child is overwhelmed, feel free to step out of the room.  Parents frequently are in and out during story time, and this is nothing that disrupts the program.  Feel free to come back in once your child feels ready to rejoin the fun and give it another go!
  • If it is really overwhelming adjusting to a story time or program, start small.  Sit in the program for as long as your child will tolerate.  Maybe it is 5 minutes, maybe it is 15.  Once they show signs that they are done, leave story time.  You can either take a break and come back in after a few minutes when they are ready to give it another go or just come back the next week and try again.  Slowly overtime as your child adjusts, the time they will be able to stay in the program will grow. Do this as many times or for as long as necessary!  The library staff understands completely and supports you 100%!  Often there is a concern that we will be disrupted or find that coming and going rude but the truth is we WANT you to do this if it helps your child.  We want you and your child in our program even if it is only for a part of it, even on a rough day!  And truth be told, parents and children come and go frequently during programs for lots of reasons so you are not alone!
  • If the program has different centers to explore, don’t make your child do every one if he or she doesn’t want to.  Let them guide their experience!  If they want to make three straw rockets instead of going to the area where they actually launch them and measure them, that is okay with us provided the supplies are there.  It is an opportunity to interact with different children who come to that station and use social skills!
  • Let the library staff in the room know if you need help!  Tell us how we can support you!  Whether it is asking us to hand you a cherished object that soothes your child while you are holding them to calm them down, whether it is giving you and your child a special sign if storytime is about to get loud because loud noises upset them and it gives you time to cover their ears, or even if it is helping provide a transition between activities so they aren’t upset when you need them to move to a new center or go home, we are there to support you as well as your child!

Miss Marta


Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

Earlier this month,  I wrote about helping children through grief.  In that post, I mentioned losing several friends, family and acquaintances within the last few years.

Well,  now I’m facing the imminent loss of my dog, Jake. He’s been a special dog – we rescued him from a shelter when he was about 4 years old.  Jake filled up our empty nest after our last child had gone off to college.  He’s been the best behaved and well trained dog we ever had, probably because someone else trained him!  Jake is a black labrador retriever, so if your’e at all familiar with that breed, just looking at their eyes is enough to melt your heart!  He’s been our faithful companion, walking partner,  chief snuggler, and friend.

My husband and I learned this week that he has bone cancer, and that it will most likely spread quickly.  He’s already slowing down, so we’re spending time with him and loving him as much as we can before we have to let him go.

If a child in your life is dealing with the loss of a pet, here are some books that may help them understand and cope with their emotions.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas

The Blue House Dog by Deborah Blumenthal

Tulip and Lupin Forever by Mireille Levert

Adios a Goldie by Fran Manushkin

Kate the Ghost Dog: Coping with the Death of a Pet by Wayne Wilson

My Old Pal Oscar by Amy Hest

Good-bye Fish by Judith Koppens

Life and I: A Story About Death by  Elizabeth Helland Larsen

Miss Teresa



Notary Public and Passport Services at Your Library!

Many libraries offer services that might surprise a few people. Two unusual things we offer are Notary Public and Passport services.


A notary public can witness a signature on a document with a proper photo ID. Remember not to sign the document, the notary must see you sign the document. There is a small fee for this service.


Yes, you can apply for a passport at our library! We have several passport acceptance agents who are trained by the Department of State to accept your application. Applications are available on line or you may pick one up at the library. You can also get your passport photo taken at the library, just let us know when you sign up for an appointment.


Unlike many places these services are available in the evening or on Saturdays.

Miss Sarah

Movies, Comics, Music and More with Hoopla!

The Moline Public Library offers Hoopla free to patrons with a valid Moline library card.

Easy to do with just 3 steps.

1.       Download Hoopla or go to hoopladigital.com

2.       Log in with your Moline library card.

3.       Borrow free digital movies, music, eBooks, comics and more!

Once you are in, you will discover a wide variety of audiobooks, movies, music, comics, ebooks and television that you can download to your mobile device for free. You may check out up to 8 items per month. Search by title, artist, series or genre, or you can search in kids mode so you do not have to worry about the content your child sees. If you don’t know what you are looking for you can have Hoopla create a recommendation list by choosing topics you like. It’s a great option for when you are away from home and looking for some free entertainment.

The best part is you don’t have to worry about late fees!

Miss Christina

Fantastic Books for Fall!

Faded Fall

It finally feels like autumn is really here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re ready to revel in fall family fun. Here we’ll show off a few of our fall favorites, like cookbooks, storybooks and pumpkin carving books to give you inspiration and ideas all month long!

My family hit the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard all in one day, so I have a counter filled with fresh-picked squash and apples, just waiting to be made into something delicious! One of my favorite things to make with my kiddos are pumpkin muffins- and we make them all year long! It’s amazing how easy it is to get even the youngest helpers on board when you’re making something sweet to eat. Our favorite recipe for pumpkin muffins comes from one of Moline Library’s  very own kid cookbooks, called Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes by Marilyn LaPenta and my favorite part is it takes only ten minutes to prepare, and the instructions use a lot of pictures, so my kids can clearly understand it and follow along. We also have a great selection of Halloween cookbooks for kids, including Wormy Apple Croissants and Other Halloween Recipes by Brekka Hervey Larrew, and A Halloween Cookbook by Sarah Schuette, and Halloween Sweets and Treats by Ruth Owen.

For those of you for whom fall means FOOTBALL, we even have football-themed kid cookbooks, featuring yummy recipes like sweet potato chips, BLTs and more!  Check out Football Fuel: Recipes for Before, During, and After the Big Game and Football Tailgating Recipes: Tasty Treats for the Stadium Crowd both by Katrina Jorgensen.

So grab your kids and get cooking together! You’ll make tasty treats and sweet memories!

Fall is best for cuddling up together with a good book! So here’s a few of our fall favorites:

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall! by Anne Sibley O’Brien

This book features lovely illustrations and pull-out surprises highlighting fall favorites, such as migration, hibernation and more! 9781419721250_s3

Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde

Darling illustrations and adorable story!


Ellen’s Apple Tree by Catarina Kruusval

A favorite at my house! A sweet tale about the life of an apple tree, and the family who loves it.

ellen's apple tree

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

Simple text with large, colorful illustrations of fall scenes every child can relate to.

in the middle of fall

Awesome Autumn! by Bruce Goldstone

Chock full of fun fall facts paired with great pictures, this book covers all the things that are special about fall!



I don’t know about you, but pumpkin carving is not my forte, so when I found our pumpkin-carving idea books here at the library, I was ecstatic!


Pumpkin Decorating by Vickie Rhodes

How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette


Click here for some other great Halloween Book suggestions from Amanda and Quad City Moms Blog!

Miss Janna

Lemonade Stand

Willa, a young library patron, decided to have a lemonade stand in her family’s front yard. Before the big day Willa decided to donate the money made from the lemonade stand to our library. Signs were made, treat were prepped and the big day happened!

Willa along with younger brother Henry have manned three lemonade stands to benefit our library. Last year we had a children’s program that was funded from the lemonade stand sales. Not sure what we will do with the money this year, but I’m sure we will think of something.

These children received recognition from our director with library medals and buttons declaring the two Library Ambassadors. We did have to explain what an ambassador is, but hey the learned a new word!

We are very lucky to have such fine young patrons of the library!  Willa and Henry are wonderful young children being raised by loving parents, Elaine & Jeff, in our city.

Check out the great article written about our young Library Ambassadors!


Miss Sarah