Selecting the BEST Books For Speech Therapy

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I often get asked how I select the books I use. Literacy-based speech therapy is something I'm passionate about and I love sharing my ideas for using more children's books in our therapy sessions. Because our time in therapy is so limited, I'm very strategic in the mentor texts I use. Here are my best suggestions for how to select books for your therapy room also!
More than basing my picks on a season or holiday alone, I select narrative books based on many factors: vocabulary words, text structure, social situations, story grammar elements, figurative language and more. Here are some ideas for you to consider in your search. This post contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission should you choose to make a purchase when you click through to a link. This is not a sponsored post.

1. Award-winning books (look at each honor list too!) 
Each award has it's own criteria in selecting their book. Simply search Amazon for "Children's Book Award Winners" and you will see specific titles like the Newberry Medal, Geisel Award, Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré and many more suggestions! 
A FEW of my favorites: 
Hi! Fly Guy - Geisel Award 
Swimmy - Caldecott Award 1964
Green - Geisel Honor and Caldecott Honor
Wolf In The Snow - Caldecott winner 2018
Owl Moon - Caldecott winner 1988
Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride - Geisel Award
I Want My Hat Back - Geisel Award, New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book
The Day The Crayons Quit - Amazon 2013 Best Picture Book, Barnes & Noble Best Book 2013, Goodreads' 2013 Best Picture Book, E.B. White Read-Aloud Award
Waiting - Geisel Honor, Caldecott Honor
Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus - Caldecott Honor


2. Curriculum-Aligned
Ask each grade level teachers what books they will be sharing in their classrooms. Maybe ask to sit in on their planning time (bring cookies) and you'll hear what books they are selecting. Read the class newsletter -often these are posted in the hallway or classroom or they are emailed out to families - ask to be added to their email distribution! Especially in upper elementary and middle school grades, teachers choose books based on specific literary themes. This is a good opportunity to preview the book with your student and prepare them for vocabulary or figurative language they will see in the classroom - giving them confidence!

3. Pinterest 
If you've noticed, Pinterest is now basically a search engine. I often go in and search topics like, "books for teaching main idea" or "children's books for inferences." I have a fantastic Pinterest board: Books and Reading For Speech Therapy that I pin specific book themes to use in therapy. 

4. Blogs
Read Aloud Revival is a great blog & podcast. Sarah Mackenzie shares excellent book suggestions for many age levels.
Ramona Recommends is another blog with book lists for many themes. She also regularly shares great books on Instagram as well.
Growing Book By Book is an excellent blog. Jodie Rodriguez shares great ideas for emerging readers.
THIS BLOG! I share many of my favorite themed books right here. You can download and print these Language Bookmarks and Road Maps For Speech Sounds to use in therapy. Each book has specific language or articulation targets!

5. Reliable Authors
There are some children's book authors that are my go-to for offering exceptional narratives that are perfect for mentor texts.
Bill Peet - his books are longer but unbelieveable in quality for story grammar!
Tomie dePaola - magnificent story teller offering classic books with depth of story elements.
Cynthia Rylant - I have SO MANY of her books. Such fun stories.
Kate DiCamillo - She has such an engaging way to hook readers no matter if it's a picture book or chapter book!
Leo Lionni - The imagry he creates along with the text is just as much a part of what I love about this author. 
Julia Donaldson - Her storytelling is clever and the rhyme she creates is so engaging!
I could list 50 more at least of my favorite authors. I'm sure you have some favorites as well! I'd love to hear them.

6. Amazon Lists
I've created a list of all my recommendations listed through this blog including my language bookmarks and by articulation sound. If you are searching for seasonal books, books for inferences, sequencing, rhyming, holidays or even professional development simply click on the Sweet Southern Speech Amazon Lists and you will have them all in one place.

When you are looking through a book to consider it for therapy. Consider your student's goals. Do they need more tier 2 vocabulary words? Are they needing more exposure to similes & metaphors? Do you have goals for rhyming? Sequencing? Main Idea or Theme? How about the sounds /S/ or /R/ at the sentence level? 
What's next? Read it TO THEM. They need to hear the vocabulary in context, the inflection, the tone, etc. Take that reading pressure off the student. 
In 1983 the U.S. Dept of Education Commission on Reading had one of the following findings, "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to the children."

I promise, even 5th graders LOVE to be read to...you just need the right book.
Tell me, what's one of your favorite books for therapy?

3 comments

  1. Hi! I'm so glad I 've find you :)
    I have a 8yo boy who I have checked with the therapist last year and she said he was ok. He pronounce well, but has to work on the volume of his voice. Sadly the medicaid don't cover his therapies because he is "fine" , but at home we constantly have to ask him to modulate or try to speak louder because we can't understand him sometimes, so I need to find how to help him a bit because I can see now that this is showing off in his reading aloud too... has started to read last year and since a few months back I've noticed that when he reads aloud is like if he wouldn't have enough air and he lowers his voice in the middle of the frase. I don't know how to say it, but It's like if he would be riding a roller coaster, every 3 or 4 words he lowers again his voice grasping air without stop reading, and gets going on...

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  2. I forgot to mention that we homeschool (and we use a literacy based curriculum).

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