Interactive Read-Aloud in Speech-Language Therapy

It is common practice for speech-language pathologists to use books in therapy to build articulation, language comprehension, and oral language skills. It is important to select engaging books that will maintain a child’s interest. It is even more important that SLPs facilitate an interactive read aloud in speech-language therapy. This is different that just simply reading aloud a story to your students or clients. Instead, it involves purposeful selection of before, during, and after literacy strategies and activities.

Before reading a book, the speech-language pathologist should draw children’s attention to the cover of the book. Have them think about the title, the picture on the cover, and make predictions about what the story may be about. You may ask them if they have heard the story before and for them to share one fact about the story. The speech-language pathologist may also briefly review the key story elements vocabulary (e.g. introduction, setting, character traits, problem, solution) or story grammar marker vocabulary (e.g. character, setting, initiating event/kick off, internal response, plan) prior to reading the story. This will help children have an idea about what they can visualize as they listen to the story.

During the interactive read aloud, it is important that the speech-language pathologist pause at key points in the story to model “think alouds” and pose questions about what the characters are thinking, why they made a particular decision or what may happen next. The SLP may also have children talk to each other briefly about what happened in the story.  Children also need to learn vocabulary in context of the story as well. The speech-language pathologist should make sure that she or he pauses when there are tier 2 vocabulary words and model for the students how to use clues from the sentences to predict or make an educated guess about the meaning. SLPs may show them visuals from book companions to emphasize key characters and parts of the story. For early language learners, the SLP can emphasize key tier 1 words and have children name the items in the pictures. The SLP can model building simple sentences about the pictures. Young children can practice saying simple sentences during the interactive read aloud when prompted to do so by the SLP.

After the interactive read aloud, the speech-language pathologist should select activities based on a child’s speech-language therapy objectives. You may ask them literal and inferential questions, have them practice naming synonyms and antonyms from vocabulary in the story, practice saying words with their speech sounds, complete a sequencing activity with pictures and/or text, verbally retell the story, or write the story events with a graphic organizer.

An interactive read aloud can be a therapeutic language and literacy activity to assist children with visualizing story events, building vocabulary and oral sentences, deepening their understanding of a story, and making connections to the story from their prior knowledge. The speech-language pathologist also provides a verbal model of correct speech articulation for children with articulation disorders. An interactive read aloud is an ideal and purposeful speech-language therapy activity that can be used effectively across numerous themes, during individual sessions, and mixed articulation, language, and speech fluency group sessions too!

Check out my TPT store and click on the literacy based assessment and intervention tab for resources to build children’s skills. When speech language pathologists skillfully and consistently use a variety of children’s literature in therapy, it leads to students’ speech, language, and literacy success! Thanks for reading!

Tamara Anderson
Speech Language Pathologist
Education Specialist

Do you want to read more about an SLP’s role in literacy and shared book reading/dialogic reading? Stay connected to Building Successful Lives so that you don’t miss out! It’s an important strategy to increase language skills in children.

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