Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs

by Sherry Norfolk and Lyn Ford, Editors
Foreword by Kendall Haven


Use flexible, adaptable storytelling strategies to reach and teach children with special needs in a range of educational settings. This book shows you how.

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Cover image for Storytelling Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Children with Special Needs

November 2017

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 218
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Librarian's Instructional Role/Teaching Resources, K-12
  Children's and Young Adult Programs/Storytelling, Resources and Collections
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This book supplies stories, essays, lesson plans and specialized storytelling strategies to help teachers "level the playing field" for all learners and better serve children with special needs.

More than 57 percent of the over 6 million American children with disabilities are in inclusive (i.e., general) classrooms; "self-contained" classrooms serve children whose disabilities are either more severe or disruptive. As much as 20 percent of the children in an inclusive classroom are identified as "disabled," with the highest percentage of these having learning disabilities. While most classrooms have at least one child with a disability, teachers often have little or no training in educating and caring for these children. The need for resources that support educators working with children with disabilities or social/emotional difficulties is clear.

This book fills this critical need, supplying school and public librarians, classroom and special area teachers, and storytelling teaching artists with storytelling strategies for reaching and teaching children with special needs in inclusive classrooms, self-contained classrooms, and public and school libraries. These full-text stories, essays, and lesson plans from experienced storytelling teaching artists provide educators with a wide range of adaptable storytelling and teaching strategies for specific disabilities and enable storytellers to discover news ways to perform their storytelling magic. The book also offers compelling real-life anecdotes that demonstrate the impact of these strategies in inclusive and self-contained classrooms; presents an introduction to the skills of storytelling, why they are useful, and how to use them; and includes suggested modifications for a wide range of disabilities as well as detailed resource lists.


  • Provides a variety of successful storytelling strategies for reaching and teaching children with specific disabilities, enabling educators and mentors to choose options that will work best for their teaching environment and students
  • Provides immediate access to stories, strategies, and adaptations to meet specific needs
  • Offers a joyful, engaging, and thoroughly human way to interact with all students—a method that makes giving the gift of empathetic education easier
Author Info

Sherry Norfolk is adjunct professor at Lesley University as well as an award-winning storyteller, author, and teaching artist, performing and leading residencies and professional development workshops nationally and internationally. Coauthor of Libraries Unlimited's The Storytelling Classroom series—four books that explore rigorous, standards-based storytelling strategies for learning across the curriculum—Norfolk is a recognized leader in integrating learning through storytelling. She received the National Storytelling Network's Oracle Award for Outstanding National Service, as well as the Tennessee Arts Commission Teaching Artist of the Year Award. Norfolk leads CETA Professional Development workshops for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her website is

Lyn Ford is an Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and Kennedy Center's OSBCI teaching artist and the author of two Anne Izard Storytellers' Choice Award-winning books: Affrilachian Tales: Folktales from the African-American Appalachian Tradition and Beyond the Briar Patch: Affrilachian Folktales, Food, and Folklore. She has worked extensively with all types of learners and facilitated many educational workshops. Ford's story activities are included in several education resources, including The Storytelling Classroom: Applications Across the Curriculum. She is a National Storytelling Network's Oracle Award recipient in both Leadership and Service and the Circle of Excellence, and a member of the Writers Council of the National Writing Project. Her website is



"Consisting of a series of essays written by experienced storytellers, this text is a comprehensive, hands-on guide to storytelling, especially for those with an interest in storytelling for children with special needs. . . . Full of moving anecdotes and practical advice that is immediately applicable, this collection would be a welcome resource for anyone with an interest in storytelling for children."Booklist Online

"This book is good for beginners as well as savvy storytellers looking for additional suggestions."VOYA

"Graphic organizers, outlines for how to prepare and conduct a storytelling session, and sage advice will help guide novices and experts alike. This book is for teachers, storytellers, school and public librarians, and administrators.
Highly Recommended."School Library Connection


2019 Storytelling World Awards Winner "Special Storytelling Resources" — Storytelling Magazine

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