What do you picture when you hear “speech and language therapy?” Is it a therapist and child sitting across the table from each other looking at flashcards? Sometimes that is the case! In an elementary school setting, however, one of the primary objectives of a speech-language pathologist is to support students’ communication development through literacy. Sometimes, that looks like “pushing-in” to the class for a language and literacy group. This may include reading a story, sharing opinions and observations, and answering comprehension and vocabulary questions.
During the 2021–2022 school year, I heard about THIS BOOK IS COOL! In School from a colleague. I loved the idea – books for children to keep, delivered right to school, and it would come with activities to take home.
The program was designed for classroom teachers to use with their students, but my role in the school takes me between many classes. I work with students with a variety of communication disorders. Many of my students are still working on letter recognition, while others have difficulty with comprehension. Some students use voice output devices to communicate, while others have challenges with speech sounds.
I selected a subgroup of students from three classes to pilot the program. We engaged with the books over multiple days in different formats to capture every child’s interest. We used a microphone one day and watched a video of the story on YouTube the next day. With each child having their own book, they could point to pictures to answer questions even if they struggled to express themselves verbally.
If your child is not reading at grade level, there are many other skills you can work on together to build a foundation and love for literacy. In There Is A Bird On Your Head, point out how the big text means the characters are shouting and the small text means they are whispering. In Not Norman, A Goldfish Story, talk about why the illustrator chose to draw the characters in the background in gray tones and not colorful like the main character. In Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, describe to your child that characters in stories are usually animals or people, but in this book, they are actually letters! Conveniently, the activities in the book bag and webisodes are ready-to-use resources to help start these conversations at home.
It can be difficult for children with a communication disorder or delay to answer the question “What did you do at school today?” My favorite part of the THIS BOOK IS COOL! In School program was starting the conversation around a book at school and sending home something tangible so the student could share with their family.
P.S. There is no rule that says you can’t listen to books together with your child! Feel free to search for audiobook or video versions of books and follow along, pausing to comment and ask questions. Time spent together is never wasted.
THIS BOOK IS COOL! In School is a program available to educators and their students as a gift from The Patterson Foundation. Educators receive three books, lesson plans, activity ideas, bracelets, and links to webisodes for each student. The materials are dropped off at school, and an engagement team member reaches out to gather feedback once you have read each book with your students.
If you are interested or would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.