How to Use Books to Build Perspective Taking Skills

How to Use Books to Build Perspective Taking Skills

Need some easy tips for how to build perspective-taking skills with your students? And some fantastic books to use? It’s easy to find good books for language and literacy skills in speech therapy. But it’s much harder when you need a book for practicing social skills. 

Read on for my 3 favorite book suggestions for teaching perspective-taking skills to your students. And get some easy to implement tips for your speech therapy sessions! As I find more great books, I’ll add a quick Book Club post to help you out. And be sure to share your book favorites in the comments.

books, social skills, perspective taking skills, autism, social skills, speech therapy

Learning social skills is a long process that is particularly hard for students with autism. Some students I worked with had limited interactions with their peers.  It was just too hard for them to figure out what was expected of them in social interactions.  Other students interact without ever realizing that everyone else does not have the same interests that they do. They both need help!


Vocabulary for Emotions- The Basics

Start with vocabulary for emotions as the basic stepping stone to perspective taking skills. to learn that people have different perspectives, you need to start with understanding how you feel about things!


You might be surprised at how limited your students’ vocabulary is! And they need more than the 4 basic emotions to think about and express their feelings. Or to understand the emotional context of stories that they will need to read in school. So, make sure they can use more than the 4 basic emotions and that they express degrees of emotion!


Are your students having problems in their school interactions? If so, start working on emotions that are related to the specific problems they are involved in. But be sure to use a story where a character is facing a similar issue! A quick rule of thumb for helping kids with autism is to teach one new skill at a time.  Learning the vocabulary and applying it to problems may have to be taught sequentially.


Literacy – Apply the Vocabulary to Perspective Taking

Now your students can use their new words for emotions expressively and identify the basic emotion groups. It’s time for perpseptive taking with books! Using literacy activities is good practice, especially for a caseload of limited readers.  And good stories provide a context for understanding emotions and situations in a way that vocabulary drills won’t.

Applying the new emotion vocabulary in your discussion of the story plot helps students to understand that people have different perspectives. What made the story character feel angry may make your student feel sad. What one character thinks about the problem is not necessarily the same as what the other character thinks.

Check out Beyond the Story Map at Reading Rockets for a very thorough discussion of how to use books to develop perspective-taking skills. Their story organizer, Chart for Multiple Perspectives, is pictured below.




3 Favorite Books


No, David!

emotions, cause-effect, literacy skills, speech therapy

No, David, NO! by David Shannon is an all-time favorite for young children. David’s antics are always getting him into trouble while he is just trying to have fun.

The simple plot and pictures are great for eliciting sentences in a story retell.  Meanwhile, the situations lend themselves to discussing cause-effect situations and why mom does not see things the way that David does.

A Bad Case of Stripes

literacy skills, perspective taking, speech therapy

A Bad Case of Stripes, also by David Shannon, is another one of my go-to books.  On the surface, the plot is seemingly a straight forward story about a girl who has back-to-school nerves. The pictures in the books lend to a discussion about facial expressions as Camilla develops a bad case of stripes after deciding to avoid her favorite food, lima beans.

Understanding Camilla’s motivation in her decision making was difficult for my upper elementary and lower middle school students to understand. For example, why was Camilla taking so long to pick out an outfit for the first day of school? It’s a great opportunity to discuss that others are thinking about us. And it may not be what we think about ourselves!

It’s a great book to use with the CHAMP graphic organizer above to discuss how Camilla’s classmates reacted. Since you can see their faces, identify the feelings first. Then see if your students can provide statements about what they were thinking.

Compare that to what Camilla could have been thinking and feeling all along. See if your students can connect those thoughts to the decisions she made.

Dear Mrs. LaRue

Dear Mrs. LaRue, by Mark Teague, is another elementary level paperback that worked well for these grades. I have to admit that the first time I read it, I wasn’t sure that a letter style book could keep my students interested, but I was proven wrong!

The illustrations in black and white versus color were of great interest, helping my students to compare the perspectives of Ike the dog to his owner, Mrs. LaRue. The vocabulary used and the letter lengths were great for expanding students’ language and listening skills in mixed groups. Best of all, there are so many free activities to be found online!


More Books for Teaching Emotion Vocabulary and Building Perspective Taking Skills


You can get more ideas for books to use at these links:

focus on feelings - emotions

One of my favorite purchased resources for stories that directly teach emotion vocabulary is Focus on Feelings from Attainment Company. The stories feature teens and young adults to focus on vocabulary for emotions. Teens can relate to the photos and real-life situations in the stories. The same vocabulary is reviewed in later stories to encourage skill maintenance. A real bonus is that they are short enough to maintain the attention of students with short attention spans!

Do you have a favorite that I missed?

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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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