Spring Language & Literacy Books

Speech language pathologists frequently use a variety of children’s literature during speech/language therapy to build functional communication, language, and literacy skills. There are several books that are great for use during the spring season. Here are six recommended selections for use with preschool-elementary school age children. Many of the books may be used with children with identified communication disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, and autistic children.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This is a favorite book for many speech/language therapists and parents. The illustrations are vibrant and children get to see a snapshot of the life cycle of a beautiful butterfly. In this classic book, the caterpillar is hungry for a random assortment of food that would make a real caterpillar or person have an upset stomach.  However, in this book, the storyline is simple, yet inviting and amusing for young children.

Speech/Language Targets:

Tier 1 vocabulary

Sequencing

Cause/effect

AAC- Core vocabulary

Chameleon, Chameleon by Joy Cowley

This non-fiction book uses real photographs of a unique chameleon to help tell a story about a chameleon who wakes up hungry one day. He climbs down the limb of a tree and encounters a gecko that is camouflaged. He spots other animals and insects as he makes his way to the ground including a tiny chameleon, tree frog, gecko camouflaged as a brown leaf, and scorpion. As the chameleon searches for food, he climbs into a tree and sees his next meal, a caterpillar. Children can learn non-fiction facts at the back of the book about panther chameleons that are native to the island of Madagascar, that is located off the coast of Africa.

Speech/Language Targets:

Describing/Attributes

Articulation- initial /ch/, medial /l/

Verbs- express actions

Syntax- express simple sentences, increase mean length of utterance (MLU)

Language Memory- recall/state facts

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse

This book is full of imagery. In this story, the main character, a young girl,  wishes for rainfall because of the scorching heat. Her mother is busy working in her garden and her tomato plants are in need of a rain shower too.  The girl beckons the rain in a whisper, come on, rain. The main character goes to visit her friend in the neighborhood, Jackie-Joyce, and invites her friend to put on her swimsuit and to come outside in the rain when it starts.  She returns back home and pours a tall glass of iced tea and gives it to her mom to cool off. By this time, Jackie-Joyce, arrives to her friend’s house. The main character asks her mom if she can put on her swimsuit and join her friend outside in anticipation of the rain. What will happen next?

Speech/Language Targets:

Tier 2 vocabulary

Adjectives

Character traits

Figurative Language

Picture Description/Syntax- express simple & compound sentences

Sequencing

Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes

This book provides children with views of New Mexico which is a contrast from New York where the main character previously lived. Initially, the main character, Jayden, is unsure about his new surroundings since his family had to move when his dad got a new job. As he begins to explore his new community, his appreciation for nature grows.  The writing by African-American author, Nikki Grimes, provides a glimpse into life in the southwestern United States paired with skillful illustrations by Wendell Minor. Children will learn the importance of adapting to change and being open to new experiences.

Speech/Language Targets:

Describing/Attributes

Morphology/Syntax

Character Traits

Story Grammar/Plot Elements

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

This is an excellent children’s book that provides an extensive amount of non-fiction facts about the Grand Canyon. The text features in the book including the maps, illustrations, captions, headings, and diagrams will provide opportunities for children in grades 3rd-5th and even middle school to practice essential speech/language skills. Children will learn that the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and one of the biggest canyons in the world with varying elevations. They will learn about the Colorado River that runs through the canyon and that canyons are carved or created by rivers. The climate in the canyon also provides habitats for different animals and plant species. The paired illustrations by Jason Chin, talented author/illustrator, provide children with an opportunity to visualize hiking through the canyon along the adventure with the father and daughter duo in the book. Children are absolutely engaged with this book during more than one speech/language therapy session. I recommend it for use with children with language disorders and/or co-occurring specific learning disability. There are additional facts at the back of the book for more language building activities.

Speech/Language Targets:

Literal & Inferential Questions

Compare/Contrast- discuss plant life at different elevations, discuss animals

Language Memory- recall of facts

Oral Language- describe animals/plants during picture description

Morphology/Syntax- express sentence structures with correct grammar (e.g. simple, compound,

complex) during picture description

Pragmatic Language- practice conversation, verbal group discussion about topic

One Well the Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss

This book is excellent for Earth Day themed speech/language therapy activities and for non-fiction higher level thinking activities. The book is full of text, so it is recommended to use over at least two speech/language sessions with children in 4th-5th grade and middle school students. Children will learn that all the Earth’s water is connected like One Well, that all people around the world gather from.  Therefore, it is essential for the survival of living things and it’s important to conserve it’s use. They will also learn that 1/5th of the earth’s population does not have access to sufficient water.  The text features or subheadings in the book provide a great overview of the main topics discussed including: One Well, The Water in the Well, Recycling Water in the Well, Plants at the Well, Animals at the Well, Watery Habitats, Freshwater in the Well, Access to the Well, Demands of the Well, Pollution in the Well, and Saving the Water in the Well, and Becoming Well Aware. This book is ideal to address language comprehension, oral language, critical thinking, and children’s ability to reason and draw conclusions on the topic.

Speech/Language Targets:

Literal & Inferential Questions

Cause & Effect

Fact & Opinion

Drawing Conclusions

Pragmatic Language- initiate conversation, topic maintenance

What are other excellent books to use in speech/language therapy to remediate communication disorders during the spring season?

Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson

Quiet Bunny’s Many Colors by Lisa McCue

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis

A Way With Wild Things by Sara Palacios

Birds by Kevin Henkes

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog by Lucille Colandro

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Here’s another blog article with children’s literature recommendations:

Spring Language & Literacy Books & Toys

 

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