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All reading is sensory.  You read words and the words evoke pictures in your brain.  The pictures evoke memories. The memories evoke colors, smells, tastes, textures that your mind has experienced in the past.  Words on the page bring new images to your mind using sensory knowledge you already know.  Then there are picture books.  Pictures evoke the senses.  You see a picture of apple pie and your memory of the scent of fresh baked dough and cinnamon makes your mouth salivate.  You feel the story with your senses.I use sensory stimulation games and activities in my author presentations and workshops.  I have discovered that the more I bring in the senses the more memorable it is for the children.  Here are a few examples of how I incorporate the senses into the reading experience.

My book Master Davey and the Magic Tea House, co-written with Tea Master David De Candia and illustrated by Kent Yoshimura, takes place in tea plantation in China and the Himalayas. In  the story we experience monsoon rains, an ancient tea forest, an scented tea garden, and swirls of steam from hot tea, among other sensory images.  After I read the story to the children, I re-enact a monsoon rain by having the children be the wind, the thunder and the hammering rain drops.  I divide the room into four sections. Group A is the thunder.  To re-create the thunder they stamp their feet.  Group B is the wind.  To recreate the wind they howl and whistle.  Group C is the light rain.  To recreate the light rain they hammer their fingers against the chair or desk.  Group D is the hard rain. To recreate this they clap their hands.  Then I orchestrate  — the beginning of the monsoon–slowly building from gentle rain to hard rain, to thunder, wind and then full out storm…. then slowly subside group by group until only a gently rain remains. The experience is exhilarating.  We all feel as if we are not only in the storm, but we ARE the storm and we empathize with the characters who have just risked their lives to protect the tea leaves during the monsoon. At other presentations we re-enact the Blue Tiger tea ceremony,  I teach the children how to taste and smell the tea and do what  tea masters do: slurp, taste and smell the essence of the tea and its leaves.  The story teaches that each tea tells a story and you can unlock the story by using the senses.  Through the tea ceremony they experience the magic and power of  using your senses to enhance an experience.

Too Many Visitors for One Little House illustrated by Veronica Walsh, is a story about a new family that moves in on the block and changes a quiet little neighborhood into a raucous street much to the chagrin of the crabby, lonely neighbors.  But the scent of apple strudel changes all.  And once the neighbors are included to the family festivity they too enjoy the music, laughter and the delicious apple strudel.  For presentations of Too Many Visitors I bring costumes and props for all the family and the kids become the characters.  We play musical instruments like the family in the story.  And we taste apple strudel and make apple snacks.  We invoke all the senses.

Wobegon and Mildred is a story of two monster that NO BODY LOVES because they give out parking tickets.  But they soon discover each other and their lives completely changes.  The story takes place in the city.  City sounds, cars, a county fair. Both Wobegon and Mildred share a love of Pizza. The book uses lots of sensory images from colors to shapes, to sounds, to textures both in the words and the images.  When I present Wobegon and Mildred at school I have the children re-create the sounds of the city.  I ask them to take an imaginary  walk around the neighbor hood and think of the things they hear.  Sometimes I make texture boxes and fill them with things we would find in the city street, n the park, at a county fair.  Kids get to touch the different props and identify what they are and come up with their own ideas for textures and sounds of their neighborhoods and streets.  I try to engage the full body in the experience.

The concept of sensory reading developed after researching and consulting with experts in the field of brain science.  I discovered that the more you invoke the senses, the more brain paths you make. More brain pathways leads to  increased memory, capacity for learning and creative thinking.  We live in exciting times.  Brain science and art crossing thresholds.   As frequent presenter at schools and children’s events, I am constantly exploring new ideas of how to incorporate the sound, taste, smell, touch and movement  into my reading presentations.  I wish you much joy exploring your path to sensory reading!