How to Use any Book for SLPs who Love to Read

Are you an SLP who loves to read? Try these tips for how to use any book in speech therapy.

Build Your Skills for Adapting Materials.

When you are at the beginning of your SLP journey, it is probably easiest to build up your book stash one book at a time. Why? It isn’t just a matter of buying the books, it is also learning how to adapt materials to meet varied needs and choose associated materials.

Read the book first and challenge yourself.

How many different goals that you are currently working on can be elicited while reading the book?  Write a sticky note for each of these and place them in the correct spot in the book.

literacy, speech therapy, books


Provide Repetition for Student Learning.

What follow-up activity will you do after the book that elicits the same vocabulary and goals you just addressed? This is important! All of your students need additional practice during the session to solidify the growth.

Current practice says that students with articulation goals should make 100 productions during the session. This can be done with any book theme by making a light photocopy of one of the illustrations and having the students daub or color in small circles for each production.

Just print this free dauber page on clear plastic and then use it as an overlay on the book illustration when you are photocopying the page.

Voila! A book-themed dauber page that can also be used for grammar,  vocabulary, and WH? Practice, to name a few.

Use the book for a week as research shows that children retain vocabulary better through repeated readings. Plus, kids love to re-read favorite books and we are only using great books!

speech therapy, literacy skills, books


How to Use One Book for a Week

First reading:

  • Explain vocabulary in context as you read.
  • Make inferences from the illustrations.
  • Make predictions about what will happen next.
  • Discuss the characters’ emotions.
  • Summarize the beginning, middle, and end.


  • Collect additional data while filling out an organizer related to the goals. Students can write, draw, or discuss it together while you fill it out from their responses.
  • Check story comprehension during a quick drill activity, an open-ended game, or craft activity based on the sticky notes you wrote for each goal.

Second + readings:

  • Students answer questions related to the post-it notes you took data on during the previous session to check their retention rate before reading.
  • Have students summarize what they remember of the plot. This is great for quick language samples, too!

Re-read the story:

  • Answer WH? for each page, noticing details in the illustrations that support the text.
  • Use a look back strategy when students are not able to answer the question.  Model how to look for the pictures or skim for the words to be able to find out the answers by themselves. Don’t just say the correct answer and move on!

Individualize by the questions you ask.

  • Vocabulary: What does ‘this word’ mean? Find __.
  • Articulation: What is this? What word means __? Say it 5 times.
  • Sentences: Tell me what happened. What will happen next?
  • Social skills: How does the character feel?  What could the character be thinking in this picture? Do character1 and character 2 feel/see this the same way?


Concentrate more on how well students are able to express the ideas from the book based on their specific goals. Use a different follow-up activity than you did in the previous session.

Additional ideas include:

  • Have students take turns telling the story while drawing a picture for their part.
  • Watch a YouTube video of the book with the sound off to retell the plot.
  • Have the students role-play the parts of the different characters to see which of the targets are spontaneously used.
kids looking at a book 

What about students with limited literacy skills or other needs?

These students function at varying levels, so you need to individualize to their current needs, not the disability.

Nonverbal students may have appropriate literacy skills, but still need to be able to communicate during the book discussions.  This involves programming their AAC device to be able to communicate about books in general. Their devices should only include vocabulary they will want to use again.

Symbol communication boards are best for vocabulary and concepts specific to one book.  While they do take time to make, they are part of your materials to support each book and can be re-used, so it is worth your time.  These boards are also helpful for verbal, language limited students to expand their communication skills, too.

Students with limited reading skills can still increase their reading and verbal comprehension when stories are read to them.  As they grow older, it is a good idea to support more independent reading skills.

Students with very limited literacy skills may need to use adapted books, here the words are supported by visual symbols and the text may be shortened. Simple repetitive refrain books are great to do this with, whether you are using trade picture books or creating your own.

Are you interested in more tips for adapted literacy? 


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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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