It's a common misconception that a child needs to be able to read to love books. Primary teacher Lorna Banfield would argue it is not the case, and you only have to watch a toddler exploring a pop-up book or the textures of a cloth book to find proof. Banfield, English co-ordinator at The Jockey Club Sarah Roe School in Kowloon, says for children with learning difficulties who struggle to learn to read, this kind of interactive and sensory books continue to be an invaluable tool, as not only a source of enjoyment, but also as a way of stimulating development as well as the imagination. 'With children with special needs, these sensory books are the first step in creating a love of reading, especially in children who are not very verbal,' says Banfield. 'They help develop sensory awareness, as well as basic concept understanding such as colours, opposites, sizes and shapes. 'If a child can't communicate verbally, they can show they understand concepts through the book, and they can match colours on the pages and match sounds with the pictures. 'They also help them understand cause and effect. For example, they learn if they press this or turn that page, then something will happen.' Simply put, sensory books -also known as interactive books- encourage a child to use as many of the senses as possible, from sight and hearing to touch, taste and smell, through a variety of ways including textures on the page and sound effects. In very young children, this helps with important sensory development by creating new and strengthening neural pathways in the brain, enabling the brain to interpret the environment through the senses. The Jockey Club Sarah Roe School, an English Schools Foundation venture for children with learning difficulties, has recently renovated its library to make it more accessible to its 60 pupils, stocking it with new collection of books and sensory resources with donations made to its Adopt-A-Book campaign set up by the school's fund-raising committee. 'It's gone from being a fairly basic library to being much more interactive,' Banfield says. 'Everything is much more accessible to the children. Some of our children are in wheelchairs while others are fairly small, so we have made the displays so they can access books themselves. This means they can be more independent in their exploration of the books and the library. 'A lot of our children are at a pre-reading stage, and so we have used symbols in the signs, which give them visual clues as to where books are. We also have a chill-out area where they can sit and enjoy some quiet time on their own.' Banfield says sensory books are also useful as a means to help develop sensory integration - the ability to use all our senses at the same time. The good news for parents or caregivers is that using a sensory book with a child doesn't require special skills, and it comes naturally to most people. 'The important thing is to encourage the child to explore and manipulate the books themselves. At school we encourage lots of independent reading to try to create a love of books in our pupils,' Banfield says. 'It can only be sensory if it is sensory for the child.'