Recently two of my colleagues and I completed training with a company called Bag Books. The company builds multi-sensory stories based around boards and each board has a sensory experience attached to it – flowers to smell, fur to stroke, rattles to shake and many others. The stories are built for people with learning difficulties, but have been successfully used with people with dementia and autism as well.
I’ve been using the stories with pre-school children as well as young people with learning difficulties and autism, and can honestly say that I’ve never had more fun in a job role (besides perhaps dressing up as Horrid Henry for a book fair!). The library service organised some sessions with students from Downs View School in Woodingdean which were very challenging but so rewarding. Until I was approached by a member of staff, I didn’t even know I was eligible for such training – yet another way that our library service has surprised me!
My favourite story to tell is The Haircut. The main character, Chris, goes to get his hair cut but his favourite hairdresser is away, so a new trainee cuts his hair with disastrous consequences! I love to go round each person in turn, place the wig on their heads and see the surprise when they have a look in the mirror, everyone in the room is always laughing.
The stories are based on repetition and work by evoking sensory reactions and connecting them to words or phrases. They have been proven to help speech development and are used not only as a fun way to tell a story, but as a way to improve speech and comprehension in those who have difficulties in these areas.
At Jubilee we run a Story Magic session on the last Saturday of every month, where we use Bag Books. This is free to all Compass Card holders, and we will soon be starting one at Hove. Both libraries are fully accessible. Feel free to call us on 290800 if you would like any more information about these sessions or about the services we offer.
Elena – Library Officer
Photo courtesy of Bag Books.