Tag Archives : Literacy

Anderson Multicultural Books- Children’s Book Launch

Anderson Multicultural Books- Children’s Book Launch

The mission of Anderson Multicultural Books LLC is for children and families around the world to develop a love for literacy and an appreciation for individuals from diverse cultures. Communities are enriched by preserving, embracing, and encouraging cultural diversity. It is the co-existence of diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious groups within a society. Multiculturalism enriches communities rather than a belief in a dominant culture. Anderson Multicultural Books also honors and supports linguistic diversity. Many individuals around the world are bilingual and multilingual. Most families in the United States also have ancestral roots from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia, and/or Central America. We are different yet similar in many ways. The books that are promoted by the company will reflect diversity from the nations around the world.

The debut children’s book, Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda! was officially released on August 14, 2022. Speech-language pathologist, education specialist, author, and consultant, Tamara Anderson and Jamaican illustrator/artist Rachel Moss are excited about this collaboration to contribute to the literacy space of Caribbean artists. The first book signing event was held at the annual ball and scholarship awards hosted by the Atlanta Jamaican Association for the 60th Independence Celebration! It was an amazing event!

 

This book is the first in the series with the characters, the Edwards family. They are going to take you on their journey. They are a Caribbean American family who has new experiences and life lessons to share with you. Have you read a children’s book or any book by a Caribbean author? What about with a Caribbean illustrator? Many have not. You will have the opportunity to do BOTH. That’s why REPRESENTATION is significant. Children and families need to see themselves reflected in the literature. Additionally, individuals from other backgrounds need access to literature that expands their library collection and world view. After all, we truly live in a global society.

In the book, Alexandra and her brother Samuel are beyond excited because they are going somewhere that they haven’t been before. This trip is not an ordinary beach vacation. Different country. New adventure. They are excited to be at la playa! They race to the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea while their parents lean back and enjoy the breeze. Another day, they begin their trek to the dock. Snorkel, check. Fins, check. Life vest, check. Underwater sights await them. What will they encounter?

This book is ideal for families to enjoy a lighthearted, fun, and captivating story. It’s recommended for children in grades K-3 and up to 5th grade for children with special learning needs (e.g. intellectual disability, learning disability, autism).  Yikes, I Saw a Barracuda! is available now globally and can be purchased online in the U.S. on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, & more. Individuals may also purchase their copies online via Amazon UK and Amazon Canada. Anderson Multicultural Books LLC values the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity. When speech language pathologists, educators, librarians, educators, and parents do so, it enriches lives and communities. Culture matters. Language matters. Diversity matters.

Visit andersonmulticulturalbooks.com to learn more and order your copy!

 

Summer Language & Literacy Books

Summer Language & Literacy Books

Summer is in full swing, and children need to continue to have fun, relax, and also build essential speech-language skills. In recommendation, here are six excellent books for use during speech/language therapy or at home during family literacy time. As always, the books may be used with children with identified communication disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autistic children.

Family Reunion by Chad Richardson and Dad Richardson

Family time is important and brings together different generations to share stories, food, and memories, while also creating new experiences, playing games, dancing, and relaxing. Family Reunion is a great book that captures the important tradition of a family reunion in the Black community. In the story, the main character is surprisingly not excited to travel to this family gathering. He’s not sure how much fun he’ll have, but that changes quickly. He learns the value of family and enjoys quality time which is priceless. This book is ideal for preschool to early elementary school-aged children. It was originally published last summer. You may support the authors by purchasing the book.

Speech/Language Targets:

Character Traits

Story Retell

Speech Articulation

Problem/Solution

Earth’s Incredible Oceans by Jess French

Many families can’t wait to visit the beach during the summer and Fourth of July week. This is a pastime for many people, and they have their favorite beach spots while others venture out to new areas. Earth’s Incredible Oceans is a vibrant non-fiction book that teaches children about the ocean, ocean animals, food web, ocean habitats, and preserving the ocean. The author, Jess French, and illustrator, Claire McElfatrick, did an amazing job depicting the vastness of the five oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, and Southern (newly named). The author also describes how the oceans are constantly in motion due to the currents, tide, and even the moon. Children and adults alike will enjoy the vivid illustrations and the numerous facts described in the book. Make sure that you support the author and illustrator by purchasing a copy this summer to add to your home or speech/language therapy library.

Speech/Language Targets:

Language Memory

Restate Main Idea & Supporting Details

Tier 1, 2, & 3 Vocabulary

State Facts & Opinions

Elmer and the Whales by David McKee

David McKee is an excellent British children’s book author and illustrator. His series about Elmer, the patchwork elephant is great for elementary school-aged children. The illustrations are vibrant, and the book has plenty of language-rich vocabulary. This is a favorite series for many children and families, while it may be a new discovery for others. In this book, Elmer has an idea to visit the seacoast with his cousin to spot the whales.  His grandfather Eldo, the golden elephant, has made the trek before. How will they get there? What will happen along the way?

Speech/Language Targets:

Story Retell/Story Grammar Elements

Wh Questions

Describing with attributes

Inferences

Flotsam by David Wiesner  

David Wiesner, received the Caldecott Medal, for this engaging wordless picture book. The title of the book, Flotsam, is intriguing by itself. The word “flotsam” means something that floats or the cargo/wreckage of a ship that is found washed up by the ocean or beach. This book is recommended for upper elementary school-aged children. They will definitely have the opportunity to practice their critical thinking, reasoning, and descriptive language skills to tell this story. The illustrations are striking, and sometimes a bit unusual. The story begins with a boy spending the day at the beach with his family. He inquisitively inspects a small blue crab, while his family remains reading, kicked back in their beach chairs. He walks towards the water’s edge with a bucket and a shovel. He then spots a red crab. All of a sudden, a strong wave unexpectedly knocks him over. After catching his breath, the boy looks out. He spots something washed up in the sand. What could it be? The speech/language pathologist and/or parent may have to provide some background information for one or two nostalgic picture scenes from a different generation. Nevertheless, this book is exceptional and ideal for building language skills in children with language disorders.

Speech/Language Targets:

Descriptive Language

Narrative Language

Critical Thinking/Reasoning

Character Traits

Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan   

Skillfully, Pam Munoz Ryan allows the imagery of her text to come alive with her poetic use of language to tell the story, Hello Ocean. Most likely on the West Coast of the U.S., a family of five arrives at the beach. All of them have their beach ball, shovel, bucket, and boogie board to ride the waves. The text is simple, yet lyrical and invites the reader or listener to enjoy a pleasant day at the beach. “I see the ocean, gray, green, blue, a chameleon always changing hue.” It continues, “Amber seaweed, speckled sand, bubbly waves that kiss the land.” You may visit the Language & Literacy YouTube channel for a full read-aloud video of the book. A Spanish edition of this book is also available, entitled Hello Mar. Visit the author’s page here for more details. “The sun dips down, it’s time to go. But I’ll be back to see your show, hear the stories you have to spin…”

Speech/Language Targets:

Rhyming

Describing with attributes

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Vocabulary

America the Beautiful by Cholena Rose Dare

America has a vast history. There are many stories and events that make this country what it is today. It has been 246 years since America declared its independence from England. When you reflect on historical and current events, America carries both proudful and shameful moments. Everything is a part of what makes America, the nation that it is today. Nevertheless, America the Beautiful, highlights the beauty of the country for young readers. Children will get a glimpse of national parks, landmarks, while learning about state birds and flowers too. They will also learn about innovations, artists, and food.  This is an ideal summer book, or it may be used year-round during family literacy time or speech/language therapy lessons. As the author states: “Like a big family, we laugh and cry together; we celebrate and mourn together. We sing, we march, we make changes — together. We are each different, and our differences are beautiful. The freedom to be your own self is a basic human right — but when we stand together, our beautiful differences build one amazing country. We are a strong and proud family called America!”

Speech/Language Targets:

Tier 1, 2, & 3 vocabulary

AAC- Core vocabulary

Language Memory

State Facts & Opinion

Summarizing

Here are other great children’s literature selections for use during the summer months:

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell

Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

Pete the Cat and the Treasure Map by James Dean

Soccer Star (with ocean theme) by Mina Javaherbin

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle

What’s the Commotion in the Ocean by Nyasha Williams

Pete the Cat Scuba Cat by James Dean

Spring Language & Literacy Books

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

 

Women’s History Language & Literacy Books

Women’s History Language & Literacy Books

Women’s History Month originally began in California as Women’s History Week. The first week was celebrated in 1978 and purposefully coincided with March 8th or  International Women’s Day that is sponsored by the United Nations. Each year, The National Women’s History Alliance selects a theme for the month. Since we are still in an ongoing pandemic, the organizers selected “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” as the 2022 theme to honor frontline workers, women who work in the service professions, and women from diverse cultures who provide both healing and hope in their communities. You can learn more about that organization here.

This month is celebrated each March since the U.S. Congress passed Women’s History Month as a Public Law in 1987. Numerous women throughout the decades have committed their lives to service in various areas. Often times their contributions are overlooked and not celebrated as they should. You can learn more about the month on history.com.

Children and adolescents need to increase their understanding of non-fiction text. Consistent use of informational text is essential to remediating language impairment. They must be provided guided practice opportunities to increase linguistic skills using engaging and higher level content. Therefore, Women’s History Month is an ideal theme to use meaningfully during speech/language therapy sessions. I recommend the following six books to use with students with communication disorders, language disorders and learning disabilities.

Herstory 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan

This book is a new addition to my speech/language library this year. Children and adolescents will have an opportunity to learn interesting facts about a wide variety of women. The illustrations depicted in the text are bold and vivid. You can select women that relate to the 2022 theme of providing healing and read aloud information about  Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, to children with language disorders. She was born in Florence, Italy and then her family moved back to England. From a young age, she had a desire to become a nurse and provide vital assistance to others.  She worked in a London hospital, cared for soldiers during war time, and even started the Florence Nightingale Training School for nurses in 1860. She was the inspiration behind the creation of the International Red Cross, a humanitarian organization that exists in over 192 countries today. Mary Seacole is another historic woman that made a significant contribution to society. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica and was a nurse, writer, and war hero. She learned many of her nursing skills from her mother who was a traditional healer and cared for injured soldiers in a boarding house. She traveled  to various countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and England. She was instrumental in ending the cholera epidemic in Jamaica and a yellow fever outbreak. During the Crimean War, she went to England and treated soldiers where she earned the name “Mother Seacole.” These are two of many women that were positive contributors to our global society that are highlighted in this excellent book.

Speech/Language Targets: Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts, Vocabulary- define tier 2 vocabulary

The Power of Her Pen, The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome 

This book is about Black journalist Ethel Payne who documented events as they unfolded during the civil rights era and beyond. She was a national television and radio commentator. Ethel was the first Black woman to join the White House Press. She traveled overseas and reported in various international affairs during war time and diplomacy negotiations. She was known for asking challenging questions that many did not want to pose and was given the title “First Lady of the Black Press.” This book is appropriate  to read aloud to children in 4th-grade through middle school level. It is written at a fifth grade reading level with a lexile of 1010. Lexiles are a measure of text complexity. You can learn more about that here.

Speech/Language Targets: Listening Comprehension- answer literal wh and how questions, Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts, Vocabulary- define tier 2 vocabulary using sentence/paragraph context

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousazai

This is a timely book about young activist, Malala Yousazai, who desires for children to find their voice and use it to create a better world. She is a strong advocate for education for girls and helping those in need. Malala lived in Pakistan where girls were not allowed to seek higher education. She spoke out against oppressive practices. She currently resides in Birmingham, England.  Malala later was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her dedication as a female education and humanitarian advocate. What if we had the magic to find solutions to life’s most pressing global issues? What if we can truly make a difference? This book is deliberately written from her perspective. Did you know that there are over 130 million girls who do not attend school? Malala Yousazai’s organization, Malala Fundhas the mission of enabling girls to learn and lead.

Speech/Language Targets: Listening Comprehension- answer literal and critical thinking questions, Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts, Vocabulary- define tier 2 vocabulary from sentence and paragraph context

Elizabeth Leads the Way, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone

This biography is about the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It has a 3rd grade lexile level (700 L), but can be read aloud in speech/language therapy to children in 2nd-5th grade. As a young girl, she often heard that boys were able to do more things than girls. She lived during a time when girls and women did not have equal rights. Her father was a judge and she learned that women could not even own property and even if their husbands died, they would lose the property and land where they lived. Elizabeth wanted to change these unfair laws and she desired for women to have the right to vote. I like the author’s note that is provided at the back of the book that provides additional facts about Elizabeth’s life. Did you know that she ran for congress in 1866? She was the creator of the National Woman Suffrage Association with Susan B. Anthony. She served as the president of the organization for 21 years. In 1920, 18 years after she died, women finally were legally provided the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Speech/Language Targets: Listening Comprehension- answer literal and critical thinking questions, Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts, Vocabulary- define tier 2 vocabulary

Women in Science, 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

This is another wonderful recommendation that has valuable non-fiction passages. Speech language pathologists can read aloud the passages to children and adolescents with communication disorders, language disorders, and learning disabilities. I think this book is ideal for children in 4th-8th grade. They will learn about phenomenal women in the scientific community who made contributions in research, medicine, science, technology, and engineering.  Some of the women included in this book include Rosalind Franklin, a scientist who discovered DNA, Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 space shuttle to the moon, and Ada Lovelace, a computer engineer.  The majority of the information in this book will be new knowledge for most students.

Speech/Language Targets: Listening Comprehension- answer literal and critical thinking questions, Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts

Little Dreamers Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

This is an excellent book by Caribbean American author, Vashti Harrison. I added this book to my speech/language therapy library last year. The author purposefully selected amazing women from around the world from different cultures and wrote brief biographies with accompanying illustrations. Children and adolescents can learn about Marie Curie, Physicist and Chemist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and for contributions in medicine. Did you know that she invented a portable X-ray machine that was used during World War I? They can learn about Katherine Dunham, choreographer and anthropologist. She studied how the roots of African culture spread around the world and the contributions of dance from the African diaspora. She founded the Dunham School of Dance and Theatre in the U.S. She combined African and Caribbean movements with modern and ballet dance forms. Katherine is known as the Matriarch of Black Dance and the Dunham Technique is still taught today. There are over 50 women featured in this book so that you can easily differentiate instruction based on the content presented and students’ interest. I often provide children choices of influential women to learn about during speech/language sessions.

Speech/Language Targets: Listening Comprehension- answer literal and critical thinking questions, Language Memory- verbally communicate 3-5 facts

Have you used these books in speech/language therapy? What are your favorites?

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist

Diversity & Equity Advocate

 

 

Black History Language & Literacy Books

Black History Language & Literacy Books

In the United States, Black History Month is recognized and celebrated each February. The origin of this significant month is due to the efforts of Harvard scholar, Carter Woodson, and minister Jesse Moorland. In September of 1915, they started an organization, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), with the mission of promoting the accomplishments of Black Americans and others from the African Diaspora. In 1926, the group sponsored, Negro History Week, in the United States with the same purpose. It took another 50 years before a President recognized the importance of this specially appointed time to recognize the contributions of African Americans in the United States. In 1976, President General Ford implemented that well needed CHANGE to make Black History Month part of the American landscape. You can read more about that history here.

Aside from language, multiculturalism, and the arts, history is another area that I truly love. I love learning facts about people, places, and events. Black people are truly the foundation of so many things in the U.S. and abroad. We exist at the very cradle of civilization and have contributed immensely in the U.S. and throughout the African diaspora. There are countless individuals who have made lasting contributions to every facet of American life. It’s important to share facts about Black Excellence during February and all year long with children receiving speech/language therapy and your children at home. Doing so will expand their knowledge while providing more culturally responsive therapy. Yes, kids can be engaged while learning truths about American history with the numerous contributions of African Americans and those from the African Diaspora. After all, Black History is American History, and World History. Speech language pathologists, educators, and parents must provide an environment that is conducive to the success of Black children and adolescents.

This year, I am recommending a focus on non-fiction books to use meaningfully with children. They can practice a variety of speech-language skills. My top six selections are:

28 Days Moments in Black History That Changed the Word by Charles R. Smith Jr 

This is a great book that provides information about a variety of important people in Black history. Children have the opportunity to learn about individuals that they most likely have not learned about previously. For example, they can learn about Matthew Henson, one of two men who explored the North Pole. He traveled to Central America and on a later expedition reached the North Pole. He was given the name Maripahluk, by the indigenous Inuit Eskimos. Children can learn about Henry Johnson, who was part of an all black regiment of soldiers during World War I. He was a courageous man who received the Croix de Guerre, the highest French military honor. He was memorialized in Arlington National Cemetery with other American war heroes. They may also select to learn information about Bessie Coleman, a Black woman, who received her pilot’s license at the age of 29. She received her international license in France since she was not able to study in the U.S. due to discrimination. Do you know about Althea Gibson? She was the first Black woman to win a tennis championship title. She started playing tennis at age 14 and later won the international Wimbledon championship twice and the U.S. Open twice. Students can also learn about other significant moments in Black History such as the 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education decision that eliminated segregation in schools. There are many other important historical figures and moments in this non-fiction book.

Speech/Language Targets:

Language Memory- recall and restate three key facts

Syntax- produce oral sentences with simple, compound, and/or complex sentence structures

Kamala Harris, First Female Vice President by Rachel Rose

This book is ideal for early learners in kindergarten-third grade. The text is written with simple sentence structures that provide great comprehension practice for children with language disorders, learning disabilities, and autism. In this non-fiction text, students will increase their knowledge about Kamala Harris, the first woman to be elected to the prestigious job of the Vice President of the United States. Children will learn about her multicultural background as a daughter of two highly academic and accomplished parents from India and Jamaica. They will learn about Kamala Harris’ desire to help others and her careers as a lawyer, U.S. Senator, and her current role as Vice President.

Speech/Language Targets:

Vocabulary-students can verbally define tier 1 and tier 2 words

Language Memory- recall and restate three key facts

WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, why questions

Mary McLeod Bethune, A Great Teacher by Patricia and Frederick McKissack

This literature selection is a part of a series of books by the husband and wife team, who have written approximately 100 books about the African American experience in the U.S. and around the world. They have won several awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award. This book is ideal for children in the third-fifth grade. Do you know about Mary McLeod Bethune? She is known for starting a school in Florida to educate girls. She was born in South Carolina to parents who were former slaves. The great news is that Mary was born free in 1875. This would provide her with new opportunities such as attending school. Her first school ended in the sixth grade. Then she went to a boarding school in North Carolina, named Scotia Seminary, at the young age of 12. After that, she attended Moody Bible College in Chicago. Next, she worked in Chicago and then moved to Georgia to teach. Mary was inspired to move to Daytona Beach, Florida when she heard that there was no school for Black girls in that area. She opened her school in 1904 with 5 students. Over the next year, the school grew to 100 students and 3 teachers. She was an ambitious woman who raised money from wealthy sponsors to buy land, build her school, and even a hospital. Her all-girls school later joined with Cookman, an all-boys school that later became known as Bethune-Cookman. It is currently a private historically Black university. Children will learn a lot of important information about the contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune.

Speech/Language Targets:

WH and How Questions- answer literal and inferential questions

Language Memory- recall and restate five key facts

Syntax- verbally communicate simple, compound, and complex sentence structures about the book

Booker T. Washington Leader and Educator by Patricia and Frederick McKissack

In this non-fiction book, elementary school students can learn about another historical African American, Booker T. Washington. Although he was born a slave in Virginia, he was able to overcome those challenges and make a positive impact on American society. As a young child, in 1861, the Civil War began. There was a divide between the Northern and Southern States. In 1865, soldiers visited the plantation where his family lived two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed all slaves. His family and many others did not immediately hear this important news. His family then moved to West Virginia to gain work. He had the opportunity to attend a Black school for children and learned to read. He also had to work in the coal mines and as a housekeeper. Later, Booker T. Washington heard about another Black school in Hampton, Virginia. He traveled 500 miles away to attend this school that was known as Hampton Institute at that time. He graduated from there in 1875. After graduation, he taught in West Virginia and in Hampton, VA. He later moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, and held his first class in a Tuskegee church in 1881 with thirty students. Then he hired Olivia Davidson to be another teacher and they later got married. She is known as the cofounder of Tuskegee. Students will learn additional interesting facts about the life of Booker T. Washington in this book.

Speech/Language Targets:

Language Memory- recall and restate five key facts

WH and How Questions- answer literal and inferential questions

Syntax- verbally communicate simple, compound, and complex sentence structures about the book

Marian Anderson, A Great Singer by Patricia and Frederick McKissack

Many children like the arts. However, they are most likely not aware of historical Black individuals that paved the way for modern day artists. In this literature selection, children in grades 3-5th can learn about the life and contributions of Marian Anderson, a famous singer. She started singing at the age of 6 and she also fell in love with the sound of the piano when she heard a Black lady playing this instrument.  Although her family was very poor, she had aspirations to become a professional singer. Unfortunately, at that time, many music schools did not teach Black children. She eventually found her first voice teacher, Mary Saunders Patterson, and then another teacher Giuseppe Boghetti. By the time she was 21, in 1918, she sang in a concert at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. She later sang with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Marian Anderson traveled and performed internationally. Her first concert abroad was in Germany in 1930 and she later performed in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Due to discrimination in the U.S., many performers had opportunities in Europe that were not so easily attained in the U.S. When she returned to the U.S., she sang in many states and performed at a concert in the famous Carnegie Hall in New York, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial for an audience of 75,00o people. Additionally, she was the first African American to sing a leading role with the New York City’s Metropolitan Opera Company. Marian Anderson was quite accomplished. She served as a delegate to the United Nations and received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Speech/Language Targets:

Vocabulary- define tier 1 and tier 2 words

Language Memory-recall and restate five key facts

WH and How Questions- answer literal and inferential questions

Hidden Figures, The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Many students have heard about the famous women that were instrumental in the space industry because of the 2016 Hidden Figures movie. I like that this book provides an overview of their contributions. This book is ideal for children in grades 3-5 and middle school students. They will learn about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden. They were bright and talented women who excelled in math, science, and engineering. The Black women are important because they worked for NASA and were instrumental in the development of advancements in the space industry. For example, Katherine Johnson is known as a brilliant mathematician whose calculations were essential to the success of numerous space missions including Apollo 11’s mission to the moon and back.

Speech/Language Targets

Summarization- verbally communicate key information about each Black woman

Vocabulary- orally define tier 1 and tier 2 words

Syntax- verbally communicate simple, compound, complex sentence structures about the book

Have you used these books in speech/language therapy previously? These non-fiction texts are ideal to use with children during individual or group language therapy with children with communication disorders, language disorders, learning disabilities, and autistic children. Review my previous blog posts with language & literacy content including recommendations of other great books for February and to celebrate Black History. If you desire read alouds celebrating Black History, check out Sankofa YouTube channel. I have a few on the Building Successful Lives YouTube channel too.

*****

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist

Diversity & Equity Advocate

 

Winter Language & Literacy Books

Winter Language & Literacy Books

Winter Jackets. Boots. Scarves. Snow. Cold Temperature. Hot Chocolate. Arctic Animals. Winter Sports. There are numerous excellent children’s literature that are ideal for the winter season. These fiction books should be used purposefully in speech/language therapy sessions, in the classroom, and even at home with your own children to build essential communication, language, and literacy skills. Here are a few of the best winter books for speech language therapy.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

This is one of my favorite books to use during the winter season. The author actually traveled to Northern Canada and met the Inuit indigenous people of that region.  Her encounters on the trek to Iqualuit, the capital of the Nunavut Territory was the inspiration for this children’s book. In the book A-looki, an indigenous girl lost her huskies as they drifted off on an ice floe or floating sea ice. Meanwhile she spots an igloo and is curious to explore inside. It belongs to a family of snow bears who just stepped out for a winter stroll. This story is a twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Children enjoy the plot and there are numerous opportunities to practice speech/language skills.

Speech/Language Targets:

Listening Comprehension/WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, and why questions

Sequence of Events/Story Retell- practice describing the plot or story elements from beginning, middle, and end

Character Traits/How Questions- answer how questions to describe the attributes of the characters

Speech articulation- /l/ words, /s/ blends, /r/ speech sound drills

Click here for a complimentary WH questions quick listening comprehension check for use in speech/language therapy.

Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

This is a fun and light hearted story for children in Preschool-2nd grade. In the story, Mr. Magee decides to practice skiing on Mt. Snow one winter morning. His dog Dee eagerly goes with him up the mountain.  There’s just one thing. He has not quite learned the best techniques for skiing. During practice, Mr. Magee unexpectedly slides right under a large Moose who is definitely shocked. Yikes! Mr. Magee then lands upside down in a mountain ravine or small narrow gap. Will he be rescued? What will happen next?

Click here for a WH questions quick listening comprehension check for use in speech/language therapy.

Speech/Language Targets:

Story Recall/Retell- children can explain the basic plot from beginning, middle, and end

Listening Comprehension/WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, and why questions

Character Traits/How Questions- answer how questions to describe the attributes of the characters

Problem/Solution- explain the problem and answer to the challenging situation in the story

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright

This book is ideal for children in preschool-3rd grade. Speech-language pathologist may use it with children with communication disorders, language disorders, learning disabilities, and autism. The illustrations are vibrant and the characters are from different racial backgrounds. This is a funny story about a Snowman who is freezing and has the sniffles.  He needs a way to warm up without melting. The children in the story try to help him over and over again. However, he keeps on melting. At the end of the book, he finds a solution when he puts on winter clothing that the children let him borrow and he has a delicious frozen treat. He buys an ice cream cone stacked high with seven scoops. I’m sure that dessert solves a multitude of problems. What do you think? Hmmm…

Speech/Language Targets:

Listening Comprehension/WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, and why questions

Sequence of Events/Story Retell- practice describing the plot or story elements from beginning, middle, and end

Problem/Solution-state the difficulty or problem in the story; state the resolution

Here is a complimentary WH questions quick comprehension worksheet for this book.

The Mitten by Jan Brett

This is a classic story that is inspired by Eastern European culture. One day, the main character’s grandmother makes him a pair of mittens. She tells him to be careful not to lose them as he goes outside to play. As an active boy, he drops one in the snow that becomes a warm cozy home for a host of winter animals. One by one, several animals go inside the mitten and it expands and expands. How many will fit inside this soft white mitten? Eventually, a little mouse crawls on a large bear’s nose that tickles him and makes him sneeze. The winter animals are ejected from the mitten and are scattered across the snow. What will happen as the little boy returns home from a day playing outside? What will he tell his grandmother?

Speech/Language Targets:

Problem/Solution- state the difficulty or problem in the story; state the resolution

Listening Comprehension/WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, and why questions

Sequence of Events/Story Retell- practice describing the plot or story elements from beginning, middle, and end

Word Relationships- identify/verbally express synonyms & antonyms from target story vocabulary

Tier 2 Vocabulary- identify the meanings of tier 2 words from Sentence Context

*Click here for an accompanying activity to use in speech/language therapy.

A Loud Winter’s Nap by Katy Hudson

This is a vibrant book written by London based author and illustrator Katy Hudson. The main character, Tortoise, wants to retreat in his shell and sleep during the long winter. He is focused on finding the perfect place to sleep because winter is not his favorite season of the year. Along the way, he meets several of his animal friends and he struggles to find the ideal place to rest. He encounters some problems. What will be the outcome? Will he continue to dislike winter or will he have a change of heart.

Speech/Language Targets:

Sequence of Events- children name the characters that Tortoise meets along the way

Language Memory- recall key details from the story

Story Retell- children describe the story elements from the beginning, middle, and end of the book

Snowmen at Work by Caralyn Buehner

This is favorite book for many children and speech-language pathologists in the Snowmen book series written by the author. It is a whimsical story about a young boy who makes a snowman. Then he goes inside to sleep and imagines that they all have jobs to do while people are sleeping at night. Kids will see snowmen in various occupations from snowplow driver, librarian, magician, mechanic, firefighter, frozen pizza delivery man, and even teacher. Children can practice a variety of speech-language skills using this book. I especially love the colorful and engaging illustrations in this story.

Speech/Language Targets:

Language Memory- recall key details from the story

Listening Comprehension/WH Questions- answer literal who, what, where, when, and why questions

Word Relationships- identify/verbally express synonyms & antonyms from target story vocabulary

Click here for a complimentary WH questions worksheet. Click here for a word relationships activity.

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Here are a few more books that you may enjoy using with kids during the winter season:

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro-

*Direct access to Sequencing & WH questions here

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner- Direct access to WH questions activity here

Make sure that you subscribe to this website to keep current with updates on language, literacy, and building successful lives of children and families. Kindly, leave a review on my website store or TPT store for digital downloads that you have used. There are interactive BOOM card versions for several of these winter themed stories available too. Click here for those. I truly appreciate your support of my small business.

All the best!  Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP

 

Equitable Literacy Instruction in Special Education with Dr. Lauren McClenney-Rosenstein

Equitable Literacy Instruction in Special Education with Dr. Lauren McClenney-Rosenstein

Speech language pathologists play an important role in remediating language and literacy disorders in children and adolescents with special learning needs. We address foundational literacy skills such as print awareness, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, and listening comprehension. During language therapy we frequently use evidence based therapeutic intervention to increase the correct use of language form (phonology, morphology and syntax), language content (semantics), and many other areas. In fact, many children and adolescents with speech/language disorders struggle immensely with reading and have co-occurring specific learning disability and/or dyslexia. It is critical for them to receive quality literacy instruction.  Did you know that 1 in 5 children with learning disorders have dyslexia? Many of these children are on the caseload of school based and private practice speech language pathologists and special education teachers. Dyslexia impacts the lives of individuals in many ways and they can attain success with skilled professional support.

This interview with Dr. Lauren McClenney-Rosenstein focuses on equitable literacy instruction in special education. Over the years, I have observed that some intervention programs or approaches provided in the public school system by special education teachers contribute to student success while there are some that may not be as effective. Some children with learning disabilities may continue to struggle with literacy if they are not provided quality literacy instruction.  While some make progress with Wilson Reading System, S.P.I.R.E., Barton Reading &  Spelling,  or other research based approaches, other children may need a different method of structured intervention that is effectively implemented with consistency. It is important to remember that children are unique learners and specialists must tailor interventions to their needs. It is also important for speech language pathologists, educators, literacy specialists, and instructional coaches to collaborate in the best interest of these children.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is an evidence based way that may be used to increase the literacy skills of those with dyslexia. Dr. Lauren McClenney-Rosenstein discusses the six components of structured literacy instruction. She is the founder of Think Dyslexia and is a learning specialist, instructional coach, and Orton-Gillingham Specialist. Dr. Lauren has a passion for educating, advocating, and bringing awareness to dyslexia at the domestic and international levels.   She has been a certified Special Educator for a decade and earned her Doctor of Education in Teaching, Learning, Leadership, & Curriculum in 2019 from Northeastern University and holds a dual masters in Special Education and Elementary Education from Syracuse University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Syracuse University. She currently resides in Maryland and continues to provide services and extensive resources for children and families.

Watch this interview to learn more about the components and benefits of the Orton-Gillingham approach. Make sure to subscribe to the Building Successful Lives YouTube channel to stay connected, learn, and grow so that you too can improve the lives of children and adolescents with special needs.

Here are some resources to add to your SLP or educator toolkit:

https://thinkdyslexia.org/

https://www.ortonacademy.org/

Understood – For learning and thinking differences

Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz

Mayo Clinic-Dyslexia

Phonological Awareness Progress Monitoring

Dyslexia Laws

I welcome your comments on my website. If you are an SLP, educator, or parent with further questions feel free to contact me. I am available to answer any questions and provide services as needed.

*************************************

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist & Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

Caribbean Heritage Language & Literacy Books- June 2021 Edition

Caribbean Heritage Language & Literacy Books- June 2021 Edition

During the month of June and throughout the year, it is important to use books that relate to Caribbean Heritage in speech/language therapy, the classroom, and/or during family literacy time. I reviewed several books recently and selected these six to recommend this year.

I AM a Promise by authors Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce & Ashley Rousseau, Illustrated by Rachel Moss

Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce is an amazing 34 year old track & field athlete from Kingston, Jamaica. She has won six Olympic medals for her athleticism and numerous other competitions. She participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In this book, readers and listeners learn about Shelly Ann as a little girl who loved to run like a rocket. Her grandmother told her that she had a bright future ahead of her and that she was a promise. It wasn’t until she was older that she began training much harder as part of the Wolmer’s High School track team. During that time, she continued to excel in athletics and many people encouraged her. She was selected to run for the Jamaican Olympic Team. It was then that she realized that she was a promise to her country and all those who supported her along the way. This book is ideal for elementary school aged children to learn facts about Shelly Ann. At the back of the book, there are additional facts shared about her life and athletic achievements. The other contributors to this book, Ashley Rousseau and Rachel Moss are both Caribbean and reside in Jamaica.

Speech/Language Targets: listening comprehension/WH questions, story retell, language memory/recall of details

Malaika’s Surprise by author Nadia L. Hohn & Illustrator Irene Luxbacher

This is a realistic fiction story of a blended family of Caribbean heritage that actually reside in Quebec City, Canada. The author, Nadia Hohn, is a Jamaican-Canadian who uses her life experiences to create vibrant stories for young readers to learn cultural appreciation. In this book, we are introduced to an interracial family who speaks Caribbean Creole and French. During the summer, two sisters, Malaika and Adele play dress up with carnival costumes. They dance to soca carnival music around the house imagining that they are in a real Caribbean carnival celebration. Later that evening at dinner, they learn that they their mom is expecting a baby that will be born around Malaika’s birthday. The girls are excited, yet Malaika wonders what it will be like when the new baby arrives. When school starts later that year, there is a new girl at school with a similar name, Malayka M., that is from a different country just like Malaika. She quickly bonds with the new student and enjoys playing with her at school. Several more months go by. One morning, there is another special surprise while the family is eating breakfast. Grandma arrives from overseas. Dad went to pick her up from the airport. She came to celebrate both granddaughters’ birthdays. She even brings Malaika a special peacock carnival costume and makes a special Caribbean dish. You’ll have to purchase this book or check it out from the library to see what else happens as the story unfolds.

Speech/Language Targets: verbal narrative, listening comprehension/WH Questions, vocabulary

Food in the Caribbean by Polly Goodman

This is a non-fiction book that provides information for children about Caribbean cuisine that is a blend of influences from Africa, Asia (e.g. India), and Europe (e.g. French) depending on the country. I like the text features (e.g. maps, photos) that accompany each section of the book that makes it easy for children to learn information. At the beginning of the book, children will see a map of the Caribbean islands and the Caribbean Sea. They will learn about Jamaican rice & peas, Trinidadian roti, popular spices like pimento and nutmeg, street food (e.g. roasted corn, peppered shrimp), as well as popular meat and seafood dishes. Food is a great way for families to bond and for others to experience different cultures. Each Caribbean country is unique and has their own distinct flavors in the various food. This book was published several years ago so I did notice some generalizations in the Festival Food section of the book that doesn’t apply to all families. However, I still recommend the book for young learners.

Speech/Language Targets: main idea/details, verbal expression, restate facts

Celia Cruz Queen of Salsa by author, Veronica Chambers and illustrator Julie Maren

Celia Cruz was an exceptional singer and entertainer. She was born in Havana, Cuba and then lived in the United States for many years. This children’s book does a great job of telling her life story in a way that is appealing to kids. As a child, she was a bit shy but she did not let that stop her. Her voice was described as sweet like sugar. She loved singing in school shows and for local businesses. Her father encouraged her to become a teacher, but she followed her passion instead with the encouragement of many others. After high school, Celia further developed her talent and studied piano, voice, and musical theory at Cuba’s National Music Conservatory. She later joined a popular 1950s Cuban band called La Sonora Matancera that recorded many popular Afro-Cuban music. This book is rich with figurative language and vibrant illustrations. I like the author’s note provided at the back of the book. It provides a great opportunity for children to learn more facts about the “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz who helped to create international excitement around Salsa music in the 1970s. Over the years, she collaborated with a variety of musical artists like Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Haitian-American Wyclef Jean. The author was inspired to write her story because she said that Celia Cruz taught the world that Salsa had “la esencia de la vida” or the essence of life that connected people around the world. Celia Cruz inspired many people in Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond.

Speech/Language Targets: listening comprehension/WH Questions, vocabulary, character traits, cause/effect

Caribbean Islands Facts and Figures by Romel Hernandez
This book provides a good overview of the Caribbean for children. They will learn how volcanic eruptions formed many of the Caribbean islands that we know today with the exception of the Bahamas and Trinidad. They will learn about the beautiful beaches, mountain ranges, and tropical wildlife. Children will learn about the Amerindian tribes of the Arawaks (e.g. Tainos) and the Caribs. They will learn about the Maroons who established their own settlements during the time of slavery. Children will learn bout Haiti, the first Caribbean nation to gain it’s independence during the time of colonial rule from France. This book provides a good opportunity to compare/contrast text with information from other more recent internet sources on the topics contained. I like the information about the capital cities of various islands and the calendar of Caribbean Festivals at the back of the book.

Speech/Language Targets- language memory/recall of details, main idea/supporting details, compare/contrast, inferential questions

Taino Tales The Secret of the Hummingbird Retold by Vicky Weber, Illustrator Olha Melnyk

This is an interesting story about two Amerindian characters from different tribes that often were in conflict with each other. Alida is Taino and Taroo is from the Carib tribe. These tribes really existed in the Caribbean and descendants remain today. Vicky Weber, the author, is from Puerto Rico, where indigenous tribes lived. In this fascinating story, Alida enjoyed nature and loved finding some quiet time by a natural pool where she met Taroo one day. He shared a guava fruit with her and they talked for quite a while. He lived near the pool after he was left behind during a dispute or attack between the two tribes. Alida’s father was a Taino chief and she knew that he would not be pleased about their friendship since he was from a different Amerindian tribe. One day her father found out about their secret meetings and their new relationship. He forbid her from seeing him and arranged for Alida to marry someone from her Taino tribe rather than a Carib. Alida was upset and cried out to the Taino Mother Goddess for help. Suprisingly, she was turned into a red flower. How will Taroo find his new love? Will they ever be reunited again?

Speech/Language Targets- verbal narratives, vocabulary-tier 1/tier 2, listening comprehension/Wh questions

Here are some other children’s literature selections that you may use throughout the school year. The setting of some of these books are in the Caribbean while others are written by Caribbean American authors:

All The Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrator Mike Curato
Anya Goes to Jamaica by Nikko Fungchung and illustrator Fuuji Takashi
If Dominican Were A Color by Sili Recio and illustrator Brianna McCarthy
Islandborn by Junot Diaz and illustrator Leo Espinosa
J is for Jamaica by Benjamin Zephania and photographs by Prodeepta Das
Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris and illustrator Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
Malaika’s Costume by Nadia Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher
Mango Abuela and Me by Meg Medina and illustrator Angela Dominguez
One Love adapted by Cedella Marley and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newtown
Sugar Cane A Caribbean Rapunzel by Patricia Storace and illustrator Raul Colon
The Sky Painter Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist by Margarita Engle and Illustrator Aliona Bereghici

As a reminder, you may review my 2020 Caribbean Heritage Language & Literacy recommendations here.

Let me know your favorites in the comments.

Tamara Anderson, M.S., Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Education Specialist & Consultant
Diversity & Equity Advocate

May Language & Literacy Books

May Language & Literacy Books

When speech/language pathologists effectively use children’s literature during therapy sessions, children will make tremendous progress in their speech and language skills. Here are my recommendations for excellent children’s books for May speech/language therapy. This specially curated list focuses on celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, ocean themed books, honoring mothers, and even a celebration of African American heritage in Florida. Did you know that there are 50 countries in Asia? You can learn more about the various geographical regions here. It’s so important that pediatric speech-language pathologists incorporate lessons that represent the diversity of these countries.

Asian-Americans Who Inspire Us by author Analiza Quiroz Wolf and illustrator Michael Franco

This great book is written by Filipino American, Analiza Quiroz Wolf. She was born in California to parents who are originally from the Philippines. She is a prestigious Fulbright Scholar and served in the U.S. Air Force. She currently plays an integral part of leading educational programs for low income children in New York. In this book, children will learn about interesting people in Asian American history. This excellent book contains biographies of people with heritage from various countries. Children can practice speech language skills while learning about the first Asian American astronaut, musicians, athletes (surfer/figure skater), architect, and even a U.S. Senator. Children will learn details about Japanese-American, Ellison Onizuka who dreamed about going to space as a child. He studied to be pilot and then worked towards being an astronaut. Because of his excellent skills, he was selected to be an astronaut and flew his first mission on the Discovery space shuttle. They will also learn about amazing Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, Chinese-American journalist Lisa Ling, Hawaiian-American surfer Duke Kahanamoku, and Thai-American Senator Tammy Duckworth who was a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot. They’ll also learn about excellent Chinese-American musician Yo-Yo Ma whose story inspires children to know that they all have unique gifts to share with the world and it is okay to be different. There are many others featured in this book too.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Listening Comprehension/Language Memory- Children should try to recall 3 facts when read aloud biographies. They can also practice answering literal and inferential questions pertaining to the biographies.

Syntax- During picture description tasks, children can practice verbalizing sentences with correct morphology (word structure) and syntax (sentence structure).

Shark Lady by author Jess Keating and illustrator Marta Alvarez Miguens

Shark Lady is about a Japanese American scientist Eugenie Clark who loved studying marine biology and especially sharks. Yikes! As a child, she enjoyed going to visit the New York aquarium with her family and swimming at the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When she was in university, her professors thought that she was not brave or smart enough to be a zoologist or scientist because she was a woman. She certainly proved them wrong! Children will enjoy learning about her and practicing speech/language skills. At the end of the book, there is a nice timeline of her accomplishments through the years. She was born in New York to a mother of Japanese heritage and her father was American. Did you know that she earned her doctorate degree in Zoology and was also a Fulbright Scholar in 1950? She received this scholarship to study ocean life in the Red Sea. Eugenie Clark was an accomplished researcher who pioneered the use of scuba diving to collect scientific information. She even scuba dived well into her 90s in Jordan and Israel.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 2 vocabulary- Children can practice explaining the meanings of tier 2 words using sentence context.

Sequencing- Children can use the timeline to describe key points in Eugenie Clark’s life.

Listening Comprehension/Language Memory- The SLP can provide practice opportunities for children to recall and answer literal comprehension questions about the story.

Nailah & Nash Take Tokyo, by author Jawad Williams, and illustrator Shiela Alejandro.

Children really enjoy this story about brother and sister, Nailah & Nash, who travel to Tokyo, Japan with their mom to visit their dad who plays professional basketball there. They get a little introduction to Japanese culture. What will they experience? They visit historic landmarks such as Toyko Tower, taste the cuisine, learn about the cherry blossoms which are the national flower of Japan, and even get Kimonos as a gift. At the end of the book, they watch their dad’s team win the Japanese Basketball Championship. The author, Jawad Williams is a former basketball player at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He wrote this story about his children’s real life experiences. It’s so important to connect across cultures. Children who read and listen to this story will get an early life lesson about that as well. Children can readily practice speech/language skills with this book too.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 1 vocabulary- Children can practice naming nouns, verbs, and adjectives while looking at the pictures.

Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)- The SLP can provide practice opportunities for children to produce oral simple sentences about the story.

Sequencing/Story Retell- Children should practice retelling the story with key events from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Listening Comprehension/Language Memory- The SLP can provide practice opportunities for them to recall and answer literal comprehension questions about the story.

Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen, author and illustrator

Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee is a favorite for many children. The author and illustrator, Chris Van Dusen, was born in Portland, Maine and studied fine art at The University of Massachusetts at Darmouth. He worked as a freelance illustrator for many years before publishing this book in 2000. In this book, the main character, Mr. Magee goes sailing and takes his dog Dee along for the adventure. While sailing, they spot whales off in the distance who are having their fill of breakfast. There’s just one whale that wanders off and is a bit too playful. What will Mr. Magee and his dog encounter? This story is ideal for early language learners to practice recall of story events and other skills. You may use my free wh questions comprehension check from my TPT store. Many children will like the vivid ocean themed illustrations in this story.

Speech/Language therapy targets:

Tier 1 vocabulary- Children can practice naming nouns, verbs, and adjectives while looking at the pictures.

WH Questions- Children can answer basic wh questions about the story. Use my worksheet for them to record their responses. It provides a field of 4 choices. I suggest reading aloud the questions and answer choices for kids.

Sequencing/Story Retell- Children should practice retelling the story with key events from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Poems in the Attic by author Nikki Grimes and illustrator Elizabeth Zunon

This is a beautifully written story by African American author Nikki Grimes that paints scenes with glimpses of her life. I recommend this book because it is a wonderful intergenerational story about a little girl, her mother, and grandparents. The main character visits her grandmother’s house one weekend and discovers a special cedar box with poems that her mother started writing when she was 7. It tells of memories through the years as her family traveled around the U.S. and world since her grandfather was in the Air Force. They experienced various cultures along the way. The main character is captivated by her mother’s writings and decided to pen her own poems. At the end of the story, she presents her mom with a thoughtful handmade book of new poems that she wrote and copies of her mom’s poems as a child. Her mother loved the heartfelt gift.

Speech/Language Targets-

Sequencing- Children can use the book as a visual as needed to recall and verbally list the states and countries that the family visited.

Story Recall/Language Memory- Children can name activities or events that the characters experienced in the various places.

Compare/Contrast- Children can think critically to describe similarities and differences about the places where the family lived while the grandfather was in the military.

Listening Comprehension- The SLP may ask students literal and inferential questions to check for understanding of the text.

May Day and Me! Celebrating Florida’s Emancipation Day by author, Byron Dickens

This is a newly published book written by Byron Dickens. It was written to teach young children about an important time in Florida History. Did you know that May 20, 1865 is known as Emancipation Day or the day when slaves received their independence in Florida? This day has been recognized for over 150 years and May Day is celebrated in certain Florida cities and towns. Families and communities gather and enjoy food, games, and story telling. For example, Tallahassee, Florida in the panhandle has a large celebration each year. In the book, a father teaches his daughter about the day when African Americans in Florida received their “freedom” two years after Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation. This book has a simple story line so it is ideal for children in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. However, it is good for them to learn about African American history. This holiday is similar to Juneteenth that is celebrated in other states. The author, Byron Dickens, is the founder of The Emancipation Day Festival of Northwest Florida. You can learn more about that here.

You can learn more about Tallahassee’s recognition of this day here:

Museum of Florida History

City commemorating Florida Emancipation Day with special events (wctv.tv)

Speech/Language Targets

Tier 1 vocabulary- Children can practice naming nouns, verbs, and adjectives while looking at the pictures.

Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)- The SLP can provide practice opportunities for children to produce oral simple sentences about the story.

WH Questions- Children can answer basic wh questions about the story.

These are great books to add to your SLP, classroom, and home libraries. As always, for effective speech/language therapy it is always a good idea to supplement books with other interactive activities/games each month and year round to maximize children’s growth of essential communication and language skills.

Have you used these books before in speech/language therapy? How else may you use them purposefully during intervention? I welcome your comments below.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist & Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

April Language & Literacy Books

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