Why Books are the Best Tool for Speech Therapy

Why Books are the Best Tool for Speech Therapy

Books are the best speech therapy tool for a variety of reasons. One important reason is that they provide a great way to work on many different goals. Having a central activity helps to tie mixed groups together. And you know that our kids need more exposure to books!

In preschool, simple repetitive books are great. Children love that they can ‘read’ by repeating the refrain. This truly is a way to teach children to begin to read.

speech therapy, book tips, literacy skills

Why use repetitive books?

  • Reinforce the speech or language skill you just worked on using a very functional activity.
  • Help students with apraxia or motoric speech disorders to build their skills in connected speech with a rhythm.
  • Get lots of sound repetitions with a repetitive refrain that incorporates their target sounds.
  • Easily make interactive adapted books.
  • Have simple language that usually matches the illustration on the page.

What a wonderful gift we are giving to students if we help them learn to love books!

If your students have problems attending to market picture books, it could be from difficulty attending that long.  Another possible reason is that the language and the pictures don’t sync well enough for students to gain meaning.

literacy skills, autism, adapted books, speech therapy, special education, free downloadInteractive adapted books can be made as short or as long as your students’ attention spans allow!  Another benefit is that the language used is reflected in the pictures. And the interactive nature keeps kids involved during reading.

This free set can help you learn to use interactive adapted books with your students when you join my newsletter.

But what about older kids?

It can be difficult to find good books for older, lower-level students.

Look for books that:

  • have pictures.
  • are not too babyish.
  • use inferring skills.
  • have multiple characters and plot lines.
  • have character interactions that let you work on problem-solving and social skills.

A tough set of requirements to fill! The high level/low-interest books tend to have limited vocabulary and very simple plot lines. While this works well for reading out loud, they aren’t the language rich books that SLPs need.

Some of the books by Chris Van Allsburg fit this bill if your students are impossibly lost with grade-level texts.

The Stranger is a great book for making inferences with beautiful illustrations. The plot of the story is just difficult enough to use for skill-building, while the illustrations keep it from looking babyish.

  • Students with auditory memory problems can practice the strategy of looking back at the text to find the important details and answer factual questions.
  • Making inferences is a skill practiced over and over again in both the pictures and text of the book in order for students to understand the plot.
  • There’s even a great YouTube video to use as a follow-up activity. It is well-acted and lets students practice interpreting facial expressions and body language.
  • Elicit language for comparing and contrasting the video version with the book.
literacy in speech, books, fall books

The Widow’s Broom is another great book to read if your students have social language difficulties.

  • Students who are working on narrative skills can practice retelling the beginning of the book from two different character’s points of view.
  • For conversation or past tense goals, have them retell the story as if they were telling a friend about what happened.
  • It is also great for working on theory of mind.Will your students realize that the widow has no idea about the witch’s activities that night since she was sound asleep?
  • Practice perspective-taking by discussing the varied point of view characters have about the broom. Is it wonderful or evil?

literacy, organizer, free download, speech therapy

What about the freebie?

Download this free organizer to help you plan how to incorporate mixed goals in your speech therapy sessions all year long. If you’d like to read more about using it, check out this post.

It can also be a learning experience as a therapist to use books like these with your students. Do your middle school students have problems with the inferences and perspective-taking skills needed for these books? If so, it is easy to understand why they are so frustrated with the books the curriculum requires.


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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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