If you’ve ever met an SLP, you’ve probably noticed that they have an obsession with books. You may have noticed that they always seem to be carrying books around in their already over-stuffed therapy bag, or you may have caught a glimpse of the packed bookshelf taking up too much space in their office. They can’t resist stopping by the library on their way home from work, even after a long and busy day. They’ve probably encouraged you (and everyone else they know) to read books with your child at home. ---

Why do we love books so much?

It’s because books are such a valuable tool for targeting so many speech and language skills, and they’re so much fun! Sometimes half the battle in therapy is simply capturing a child’s interest and attention. Because kids love to listen to stories and look at the pictures in books, it’s easy to hold their attention and sneak in some therapy!

There are books about every topic under the sun, making it possible to incorporate each child’s unique and changing interests into therapy activities. The skills you can target within each book are about as diverse as the topics of the books themselves. And the best part? Book reading is a fun, easy, inexpensive way to reinforce concepts learned in therapy at home!

In case you missed it, you can learn more about the importance of home practice in Jenna’s post, “Rooting for the Home Team: why we love it when you take therapy outside the clinic” on the CI Scoop. Although Jenna’s post focuses on the importance of a home program from a physical therapy perspective, many of the principles also apply to taking speech-language therapy practice home.

If you’re not sure where to start with using books to reinforce speech and language concepts at home, here are a few skills to start with:


Early Literacy Skills

Recognizing letters and understanding the sounds different letters make, understanding the idea that letters make up words and words make up sentences, identifying words that rhyme, understanding that we read from left to right and top to bottom, and finding the title on the cover of the book. Try pointing out letters and the sounds they make as you read books with your child. Point out words that rhyme and ask your child to do the same. Model reading from left to right and top to bottom by following along with your finger as you read.

Great books for working on these skills:
  • Chicka Cicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault)
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Dr. Seuss)
  • Animalia (Graeme Base)
  • Eating the Alphabet (Lois Ehlert)
  • Ten Playful Penguins (Emily Ford)
  • I Love You More (Nicky Benson)
  • Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown)

Narrative language skills:

Understanding the parts that make up a story including characters, settings, events, complications, and consequences. Narrative skills also involve sequencing (the order in which things happen) and causal relationships (e.g., “They were afraid because the bear was chasing them!”). While you’re reading a book, try to point out the different story parts, or ask your child wh- questions about the story (e.g., “Who is the book about?” “Where are they?” “What happened after that?” “What do you think will happen next?” “Why did they feel that way?”).

Great books for working on these skills:
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen)
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin (Laura Numeroff)
  • Tacky the Penguin (Helen Lester)
  • Miss Nelson Is Missing (Harry Allard)

Basic Concepts:

Understanding concepts like size (e.g., big, bigger, small, smallest), number, color, sequencing (e.g., first, then, next, last, before, after), prepositions (e.g., on, in, under, next to).

Great books for working on these skillS:
  • Ten Little Ladybugs (Melanie Gerth)
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (Eileen Christelow)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
  • The Mitten (Jan Brett)

Vocabulary:

Point to and label the objects, colors, shapes, and people pictured in books! This is an easy way to provide lots of repetitive exposure to new words. You can also talk about the categories different words belong to (e.g., food, clothing, vehicles, people, animals, shapes)

Great books for working on these skills:
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
  • Animalia (Graeme Base)
  • Click Clack Moo (Doreen Cronin)

With the last few weeks of winter weather upon us, now is a great time to cuddle up with your children and dive into some books! If you’re looking to stock up on some new reading material, you don’t have to spend a fortune on brand-new books: you can check out books for free at your local library, or try swapping some with a friend. If you want to purchase books, you can find great deals on used ones at goodwill, rummage sales, library sales, buy-sell-trade websites, or you can find great deals on new books at places like the Books 4 School Warehouse here in Madison.

If you’re looking for more tips on incorporating speech and language skills into your book-reading, your child’s speech-language pathologist would love to give you more suggestions. You can also stay tuned for more tips in future posts on the CI Scoop!


Written By: Sarah Clement, MA, CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist