March Language & Literacy Books

When selecting books for use in speech/language therapy, I recommend books that will appeal to a variety of children and that can be used meaningfully with children with language disorders, intellectual disabilities, autism, and learning disabilities. I also select seasonal books and those that celebrate heritage months. Did you know that March is Women’s History month? Some of my recommendations will recognize important women in the United States and around the world. Here are my March 2021 children’s literature selections:

Soccer Star, written by Mina Javherbin, and illustrated by Renato Alarcao, is a wonderful children’s book to kick off the upcoming spring season. Soccer is a favorite sport for many children. The author was inspired to write this book based on many children in Brazil who work very hard to overcome poverty. For some children, they excel at soccer and are able to play for their country Brazil against many international teams. In this realistic fiction book, the main character, Paulo Marcelo Feliciano, desires to be successful at soccer so that his mother doesn’t have to work long hours. We are introduced to the other kids on his soccer team and some of them also work to help their families. Paulo has a job to help Senhor da Silva fish during the day and practices his school work and soccer in the evenings. Givo works on the carnival floats, Carlos shines shoes, and Jose performs for tourists. It’s certainly a different life for the characters in this book, yet they are hopeful for a successful life in the future. They do have time for fun too and play their soccer matches on the beach! What will happen during the game in this story? This book may be used purposefully in speech/language therapy with children in grades K-3 to address these learning goals:

semantics– tier 1 and tier 2 vocabulary

oral language/syntax– produce simple, compound, and complex oral sentences

listening comprehension– literal and inferential wh questions

Here’s a Boom Card activity for this book. Here is a printable listening comprehension activity.

Under the Sea, illustrated by Peter Scott, is a beautiful book for use during early intervention with toddlers and preschool children. The simple storyline is ideal for building early listening and speaking skills in young children. Each page has a simple sentence and poses a question for them to find the hidden fish in this Usborne Lift and Look book. I recommend this book for use in speech/language therapy or at home with parents to build:

listening/following directions– children complete 1 step directions to identify nouns

semantics– label or name basic tier 1 words (nouns, verbs, adjectives)

oral language/syntax– verbally express simple sentences (e.g. I see the _________, The ________ is __________ (adjective). , The _________ is __________ (verb)

Dancing in the Wings, written by Debbie Allen, and illustrated by Kadir Nelson is an inspirational book for young children. It is based on her experience as a dancer when she was a child. Debbie Allen is an actress, director, choreographer, and producer. In this story, the readers and listeners are introduced to Sassy, the main character, who loves ballet and shares her opinion when her brother teases her about her big feet and long legs. She enjoys going to dance class, but she is often not selected for roles in the recital because she is too big for the boys to lift her up and she looks out of place in the dance formations with the other girls. Until one day, an international dance teacher comes to town and recruits dancers for a summer dance festival in Washington, D.C. Who will be chosen to participate in this special event? This is a realistic fiction book that may be effectively used in speech/language therapy with children in grades K-3 to provide practice opportunities for:

listening comprehension– literal and inferential questions

verbal narratives– oral story retell with key elements, story grammar

syntax– verbally express simple, compound, and complex sentences during picture description

Here’s a Boom Card activity for this book. Here is a printable activity for listening comprehension.

Little Dreamers Visionary Women Around the Word, is a book of inspirational biographies written by Vashti Harrison. Vashti is an author, illustrator, and filmmaker who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. She was inspired to write children’s books after living for a while in Trinidad and Tobago where her mother is originally from. This book is a tribute to women around the globe who have accomplished extraordinary things. Children will learn about Katherine Dunham, the Matriarch of Black Dance, who founded the Dunham School of Dance and Theater and formed the Ballet Negre, one of the first Black ballet companies in the United States. She also created a school to teach young Black dancers about their heritage. They will also learn about Ester Afua Ocloo, an entrepreneur from Ghana who was born in 1919 and opened the first food processing plant in Ghana. She later studied in England and returned to Ghana to help the economic development of her country. In 1990, she was the first women awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership. Children will learn numerous facts about important women in world history such as Violeta Parra. She was born in 1917 in Chile and was a musician, painter, embroiderer, and ceramicist. She was well known in her country, Latin America, and in Europe for her folk songs. Did you know that she was the first Latin American artist to have a solo exhibit at the famous Louvre Museum in Paris and that she is celebrated as the mother of Latin American folk music? Here are ways to use this book to target speech/language objectives for children in grades 3-5 and even middle school:

language memory– recall 3 facts when read aloud the brief biographies

listening comprehension– answer literal wh questions

critical thinking– answer reasoning and prediction questions

Little Blue Truck’s Springtime is a spring themed book for toddlers and children in preschool. It is written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Jill McElmurry. In the book, Toad goes on a ride in the truck through the countryside and notices his farm animal friends along the way. This book is ideal for children with language delays who are building basic vocabulary skills and learning to identify words by pointing to language targets in pictures. Here are some other goals to target purposefully in language therapy:

receptive language– identify nouns in pictures

expressive language– label/name tier 1 words

categories– name vehicles, name things that fly, name things that grow, name farm animals, name things that hop

basic concepts– name colors, big/little, open/close, name spatial concepts (in, on , next to, above, below)

Vashti Harrison is also the author of another excellent biography series, Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History. I recommend this book because speech-language pathologists will have plenty of choices of non-fiction text to use during language sessions. You can select from 40 significant women in the U.S. that have made a positive impact in American society. Children may learn about Zora Neale Hurston, a Black writer, folklorist, and anthropologist. She lived in Eatonville, Florida that was recognized as the first self-governed, all black city in America. This was in the reconstruction era after the Civil War and emancipation of African slaves. She attended Howard University and later moved to New York. Zora Neale Hurston was known as the Queen of the Renaissance. They can learn about Bessie Coleman, the first African American women in the world to receive her pilot’s license. She was born in Texas, but received her aviation training in France since she was not allowed to attend aviation school in the U.S. Bessie Coleman excelled at stunt flying and aerial tricks. Do you know about Marian Anderson? She was a famous and accomplished Opera Singer that was even invited to the White House to sing for President and First Lady Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. She performed at venues in the U.S. and Europe. She sang at the presidential inauguration for John F. Kennedy. Marian Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and sang at the Historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. This book in packed with great informational text for elementary and middle school age children. SLPs can use this book to target the following:

language memory– recall 3 facts when read aloud the brief biographies

listening comprehension– answer literal wh questions

critical thinking– answer reasoning and prediction questions

Here are my other March children’s literature selections previously highlighted over the years with accompanying speech/language activities. They relate to the spring theme and Irish Heritage Month. Click on the links to access resources:

Green Shamrocks- WH Questions worksheet

Too Many Carrots- Sequencing & WH Questions

Quiet Bunny’s Many Colors- Sequencing & WH Questions

Historical Irish Americans Non-Fiction Passages- Comprehension, Context Clues, Compare/Contrast, Word Associations

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover- Sequencing & WH Questions

Spring Word Associations

Speech-language pathologists may use these activities during in person or telepractice sessions. You can screen share these PDFS and annotate on the documents. You can print these activities for children to complete during in person sessions or you may project for whole group activities as a visual aid.

This is another Women’s History Month book that may be used effectively in speech/language sessions too. Woman Who Changed the World, 50 Amazing Americans. Click here to access. This is not an affiliate link.

I hope that you have a good March and continue building successful lives of the children that you provide speech/language services for each week.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist/Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

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