Editor’s Note: This story came to us through THIS BOOK IS COOL! summer connector, Renée Isrel. The names in the story have been changed at the request of the family.
THIS BOOK IS COOL! was so much fun that we read many of the books multiple times!
Haley has been working with a speech therapist and occupational therapist through the School District of Manatee County after aging out of Early Steps. Last year, she started in the 3-year-old program, mostly communicating with sign language, and was having trouble coping with her sensory processing disorder. By the end of the school year, Haley was talking more but still a bit behind. She starts her Prek 4-year-old class tomorrow, still getting speech and occupational therapy (OT), but with a huge improvement.
Haley was talking up a storm and communicating so well this summer! I believe that the incentives provided by the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge truly helped her maintain the progress that she made last year in school and THRIVE as she developed a love for reading. She loves being read to and is excited to learn how to read.
I started asking her to tell me the story. She would go page by page describing the pictures in the books. At first, her sentences were choppy, but she asked me to help her come up with the words she was looking for. With this, she added multiple words to her vocabulary and began making longer sentences that turned into paragraphs as she described the pages to me.
Previously, this child would shut down if she had trouble pronouncing a word (and she had trouble with many). Haley would instead make a grunting noise in place of the words in her sentences that she couldn’t say because she was too embarrassed to keep trying and failing. She forgot all about that this summer as we read.
THIS BOOK IS COOL! helped facilitate a monumental change in my child. She wanted to try new words when before she was embarrassed and hesitant. She is starting this school year off with excellent footing, ready to wow her speech therapist and teachers with her new vocabulary and willingness to speak and practice words! I cannot wait for her next review to see the progress on paper!
A side note: Haley, having sensory processing disorder, was supposed to get into OT this summer outside of school. After an issue scheduling her appointment with the referral, it left her without the option as her first appointment would be mid-August, and by that time, she would have OT at school again.
I ordered all kinds of creative kits and crafts to try with her to see if they would help keep her working on her skills and see if it helped calm her when she was overwhelmed. I got her bracelet beading, and she not only loved it for the fun of it, but it was awesome for her fine motor skills and letter recognition (making name bracelets and such). It helped calm her when she was overwhelmed.
She beaded so many bracelets that I ran out of room on my wrists and money for these beads 🤣. We started a little business for her, and she has been taking orders since and making money to cover the costs, which allows her to continue her makeshift OT at home. She’s done awesome with this! I tell you this because the combination of her beading and the activities that came with her weekly stories from THIS BOOK IS COOL! (TBIC) has helped her thrive.
Had we NOT taken part in the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge, not only would she likely not have taken off verbally this summer or gained more confidence in her speech, but I would have never thought about using crafts to calm her and maintain the skills learned in OT at school. It is quite likely that my daughter would have regressed this summer, but TBIC allowed her to progress in a way we hadn’t imagined or expected.
The chain of events that occurred after beginning this summer program has been amazing! For that, I thank the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and everyone involved in making this program come to life. Please share this with your program colleagues, as I want them all to know exactly how wonderful this program has impacted our lives! It was more than just a reading program where my child got 20 free books. It was a total blessing for her (and us) when we needed it the most.
I cannot wait for her to do this again next summer. I plan to keep her reading at home and will help nurture the beading business that has brought Haley so much joy and relief!