April Language & Literacy Books

I have specially curated a list of great speech/language therapy books for April 2021 that may be used effectively with children with language disorders, learning disabilities, and autistic kids as well. It is important to continue using children’s literature each month in speech/language therapy, in the classroom, and at home with your own children to build communication, language, and literacy skills. When you consistently and purposefully do so, they will build essential listening comprehension, oral language, and even language/auditory memory skills that are essential for academic and literacy success. Here are my recommendations.

A Way With Wild Things by author Larissa Theule and illustrator Sara Palacios

This is a vibrant and eye catching book to read aloud to children during the spring. Sara Palacios did an amazing job crafting the colorful and diverse illustrations that depict the storyline as it unfolds on each page. Larris Theule, the author tells a story about Poppy, the main character who is a bit shy, but she loves being outdoors in her element. Poppy loves nature including various insects and even camouflages herself throughout the story too since she is a bit shy around others. Children will be able to spot different insects like ladybugs, dragonflies, spiders, butterflies and learn the names of others like cicadas, roly polys, and praying mantis. At her grandma Phyllis’ birthday party, a dragonfly lands on the cake! Oh no! Poppy was glad to spot the dragonfly, but not on the cake. It soon flies towards Poppy and lands on her hand. Grandmother Phyllis tells the family that “Poppy’s got a way with wild things.” Everyone gathers around to take a look and Poppy takes a deep breath and then tells her family about the scientific name of a dragonfly. Then, Poppy and her grandma embrace and she affectionately says “You, wildflower, you.” This book reminds children who are bit timid that they too have things to share with others. Children can learn facts about bugs from the glossary at the end of the book. I recommend this book for children in grades K-3rd.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 1 Vocabulary/Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)- During a picture description task, children can name tier 1 words and tell a sentence about each page in the book. Over time, they will be able to increase their MLU.

Tier 2 vocabulary- The SLP can facilitate children learning tier 2 words from sentence context such as patiently, symphony, coaxed, recognized, weaving, magnificient, preferred, landscape, shimmered, gasped, fragile, clearly, and fluttered.

Sequencing- Kids can try to recall the different things that Poppy camouflaged herself amongst.

Up, Down, and Around by author Katherine Ayres and illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott

This is an ideal book for early language learners who are building basic vocabulary such as prepositions, nouns, verbs, and adjectives. It’s great to read aloud in April because of the garden theme. In this book, the author, Katherine Ayres, tells kids about the farm to table process in a whimsical way. They learn about planting seeds, watering them and watching them grow. It is a playful book that shows the main characters having fun in the garden and then eating a delicious lunch at the end with produce that they planted. Children will learn what vegetables grow above and below the soil. This is a simple yet inviting spring themed book for toddlers, preschoolers, and children in Kindergarten-1st grade.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 1 vocabulary- During a picture description task, children can name and describe the produce in the book. They will see corn, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, broccoli, beets, green beans, okra, onions, and tomatoes. They can practice using adjectives to describe each food item and use prepositions to describe the direction that it grows. Kids can express verbs in sentences to describe the actions in the book such as dig, drop, watch, grow, piles, pull, pick, and eat.

Yes/No Questions- Children can answer yes/no questions about the direction that each vegetable grows. For example, “Does corn grow up?” or “Do carrots grow down?”

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by author Joanna Ho and illustrator Dung Ho

This is a beautiful book to celebrate Asian American children and remind them to embrace their differences and for children from other backgrounds to appreciate diversity. In the story, readers and listeners, are introduced to the main character who notices the differences between herself and her classmates. She sees that she has “eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” She quickly recognizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother Amah’s, and her little sister Mei-Mei’s. I like that this book depicts an intergenerational family in a loving home environment. The illustrations in this book skillfully and purposefully demonstrate the appreciation that an Asian little girl should have about her eyes and heritage. The words paired with the illustration in this book are equally powerful. I love the scene of the main character sitting next to her grandmother Amah while she sips tea. She describes her as a woman with eyes that sees into her heart and that are filled with so many stories. This is definitely a heart warming book.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Figurative Language- Children can identify and describe similies in the book that compare the characters’ beautiful eyes to other things. Here are a few of my favorite:

Mama’s eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea crinkle into crescent moons when she comes home from work.

She scoops me in her arms, eyes sparkling like starlight, and tickles me until we laugh.

My lashes curve like the swords of warriors.

Listening Comprehension- Children can answer literal and inferential wh and how questions about the story.

Birds by author Keven Henkes and illustrator Laura Dronzek

This has been one of my favorite spring themed children’s books for several years since I truly love being outside at this time of year. It’s great for the month of April. I love the cover and illustrations throughout the book that help the story come alive. In the story, the main character tells readers and listeners about hearing birds singing outside her window while we see the image of a beautiful cherry blossom tree. Then we see various colored birds perched on the cherry tree too. The little girl imagines what it would be like to fly like a bird.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Listening Comprehension- Children can answer literal and inferential wh and how questions about the story.

Expressive Language/MLU- Children can verbally communicate sentences about the book. SLPs can give them sentence starters as needed such as “I see the ___________” or “I like the _________.”

What’s the Commotion in the Ocean? by author Nyasha Williams and illustrator Sof’ya Glushko

This is an excellent book that I purchased last year and I’m excited to use it in speech/language therapy this April. Nyasha Williams is an African American author who is an elementary school teacher. The theme of this book is about ocean conservation efforts. First of all, the main character, the Black mermaid in this story disrupts the idea that there can only be one representation and skin tone of a mermaid. This is a good message so that Black children can see themselves reflected as main characters in books too. Then, the mermaid teaches that the ocean is pleading with us to protect it because it is an extensive ecosystem. Children will learn about items that are polluting the sea like plastics and fertilizer run off from lawns/farms. They will learn about how the demand for seafood is even creating overfishing that is damaging to the health of the ocean and significantly reducing the quantity of various species of ocean life. I like that the mermaid provides tips to prevent further ocean pollution and facts about the sea at the end of the book. I recommend this book for children in grades K-5th. It can easily be adapted for use with children with communication/language disorders, specific learning disabilities and autistic children.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Listening Comprehension/Auditory Memory- Children can answer literal wh and how questions. They will practice their recall of information.

Critical Thinking- Children can answer reasoning and inferential questions.

Tier 2 Vocabulary- SLP can guide children to explain the meanings of tier 2 vocabulary using sentence context. Some suggested words are: commotion, aid, extensive, difficulty, beneath, supports, thrive, ingesting, demand, dwellers, origin, solutions, ownership, debris.

Ladybug Girl by author Jacky Davis and illustrator David Soman

Many preschool and K-2 grade children enjoy the Ladybug Girl book series about the main character, Lulu. I have used it purposefully in speech/language therapy several times over the years with a wide range of children. Lulu loves ladybugs and dressing up in her favorite costume. In this book, Lulu’s mom says that she has work to do at home so she has to figure out her own fun for a while. Her older brother immediately decides to go outside to play. He is going to play baseball with his friends and she wants to join them. However, she is not allowed according to him because she’s too young. Instead, she walks around the house with her dog to find something fun to occupy her time. She looks at the towering bookshelf, but she hasn’t learned to read yet. She waters an avocado plant and then decides to go in the backyard. What adventures will she encounter when she explores outside?

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 1 Vocabulary/Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)- During a picture description task, children can name tier 1 words and tell a sentence about each page in the book. Over time, they will be able to increase their MLU.

Listening Comprehension/Auditory Memory- Children can answer yes/no questions & wh questions about the book. They can practice their recall of information too.

Problem/Solution- Children can name a realistic problem in the story and Lulu’s solutions.

Sequencing- Kids can identify the activities that Lulu does in her backyard to have fun while her parents work at home. For example, she jumps in a big puddle, plays fort, balances on and walks across a fallen tree trunk, climbs an apple tree, and watches her brother play baseball with his friends.

I hope that you use these books meaningfully in speech/language therapy, the classroom, or at home this April.

All the best,

Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist & Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

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