Tag Archives : Literacy

March Language & Literacy Books

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

February Language & Literacy Books

February Language & Literacy Books

Each month I provide children access to a variety of children’s literature selections during speech/language therapy. These books may be used purposefully with children with speech/language delays, intellectual disabilities, speech/language impairment, specific learning disabilities or autism. Here are 6 recommendations that speech language pathologists can use meaningfully to build communication, language, and literacy skills in young children.

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, is written by lawyer and author Meena Harris. This book is about her mother, Maya, an attorney and her aunt, Vice President Kamala Harris when they were children growing up in California. In the story, Kamala has an idea that she would love a community playground. With persistence, she along with her sister Maya get the support of neighbors to make their desire a reality to improve their community and have a fun place for kids to come together. This book teaches children that their voices can promote positive changes. It’s an excellent story for preschool and elementary school aged children. Here’s a read aloud by the author.

Speech/Language Targets: WH Questions, story retell, critical thinking

Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish is a lighthearted story about the main character Amelia. In the book, she spots hearts everywhere as she goes about her day. Later, she creates Valentine’s cards for her classmates. At school, they have a Valentine’s Day party with delicious treats and punch. While there, she realizes that she left the cards that she made on the bus. She improvises and writes special notes on a deck of playing cards that her mom gave her that morning. After school, she sees her classmate Jeremy who missed school because he was sick. She decides to give him her bag of cards that she received at school. Later at home, her parents exchange Valentine’s gifts and remind each other and Amelia how much they are all loved and appreciated. This is a great story for use in speech/language therapy or at home with your own children. You can listen to a read aloud here. Use this complimentary listening comprehension WH questions worksheet to purposefully build skills in children.

Speech/Language Targets: WH questions, story retell, literal/figurative language, vocabulary

Hank Aaron Brave in Every Way by Peter Golenbock is a great book about an African American baseball legend who excelled despite navigating racial discrimination. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come. He played at at time when most teams did not allow Black players. As a child he always loved baseball and played for local teams before getting the opportunity to join a professional team. At first, his mother did not want him to join since the other players were adults. He later got the opportunity to travel out of state to play for the Milwaukee Braves. This team later became the Atlanta Braves and he moved to Georgia. He was happy to be closer to his home state of Alabama. It was here that he broke Babe Ruth’s record for the most home runs. Hank Aaron was a man of tremendous strength and courage. He achieved despite obstacles. Here is a read aloud.

Speech/Language Targets: semantic processing, story recall, sequencing of events, inferential/critical thinking

Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue is a children’s book about Ron McNair, scientist and astronaut when he was a nine year old boy. He always had a fascination with airplanes and enjoyed going to the library. There was just one big problem. Due to unfair and racist Jim Crow laws of the south, he was not able to check out books. One day, he decided that he should be allowed to check out books like the white children. However, this was not allowed in South Carolina where segregation laws were still in place. Ron wanted a library card and insisted that he have one. What happened when he did so? He was quite the courageous little boy and as an adult. Imagine if he never advocated for himself. This book reminds children that it is good to have courage and stand up for what is right. This is a way to promote CHANGE! Building literacy skills are a right for Black children too! You can access a complimentary WH questions listening comprehension worksheet here.

Speech/Language Targets-vocabulary, listening comprehension/WH questions, story retell, critical thinking

The Day it Rained Hearts, by Felicia Bond, is a whimsical yet simple book with a Valentine’s Day theme. In the story, the main character Cornelia catches hearts as they fall from the sky. Then she makes Valentine’s cards and mails them to her friends. This book is ideal for children with speech/language delays who are learning to build basic communication and language skills. It teaches them an important lesson about sharing and compassion for others too.

Speech/Language Targets: Tier 1 vocabulary, picture description, WH Questions

Love Monster and the Perfect Present, by Rachel Bright

This is a colorful book where Love Monster is excited about Present Day! There’s just one problem. He is not sure what the perfect present will be for his special monster friend. He learns that the best gift is not one that can be bought, but made instead. At the end of the story, his friend is appreciative of his thoughtfully decorated gift.

Speech/Language Targets– Picture Description, Yes/No questions, WH questions, Tier 1 vocabulary, Basic Problem/Solution

February is a month that tends to go by so fast! I hope that you can use at least one of these selections this year. Here’s a previous post with other February children’s book recommendations. I have used numerous other books throughout the years in a meaningful way to build communication, language, and literacy skills in children with special needs. Check my website later for my 10 children’s literature recommendations that celebrate Black authors and children that you can use throughout the year in speech/language therapy.

Diversity & Cultural Heritage

Diversity & Cultural Heritage

Diversity continues to be at the forefront of many organizations’ platform in the United States and throughout the globe. As a multicultural and multilingual speech/language pathologist, diversity is something that I have always valued and appreciated. Therefore, I am continuing my interview discussion series on topics related to Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity so that speech/language pathologists and educators can have access to meaningful information on this topic. It is important to acknowledge the varied and valid perspectives on these topics that influence our valuable work as therapists, educators, and leaders. Many professionals in these allied fields work with students, clients, and families from various backgrounds while some may live and work in communities where the people that they serve are of the same racial and ethnic backgrounds as them. It is important that those individuals especially continue on their journey of being more culturally responsive. The first step on that path is to be more culturally aware of various individuals, their communication styles, and individuals’ cultural heritage as some may require speech/language therapy, educational, or services in the allied health sector. It will also enhance your ability to interact effectively with colleagues.

I am purposefully highlighting unique voices on the topic of Culture. It is critical to emphasize the importance of cultural understanding and appreciation. Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of various individuals within society. It may include books, works of art, monuments, oral traditions, performing arts, or cultural festivals.

Cultural Heritage affirms people’s identity and it is important that it is preserved from one generation to the next regardless of where you live in the world. Within the diaspora, it is critical that the culture of individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are respected, appreciated, and integrated into the large society.

Today, I have an excellent feature to share with you. I interviewed Stefanie Thomas Gilbert-Roberts, the Director of Strategy and Projects at CUMEDIAE, a Brussels based non-profit consultancy specialized in project management and advice in the creative & media sector in Europe and beyond. She is also the Founder and Creative Editor of Cultural Voice eZine, a global magazine focused on Business and Culture founded in 2011, and Non- executive Director of Artistic Expressions Ltd. She has over 10 years project development/management experience across Europe and the Caribbean, with extensive knowledge in the cultural and creative industries sector. Stefanie has represented Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Americas in an official capacity at the highest levels internationally on behalf of Caribbean youth and entrepreneurs including on the Culture Advisory and Youth Committees of Jamaica’s National Commission for UNESCO. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency that promotes collaboration in education, the sciences, and culture.

During the interview, we discussed cultural heritage, ways that the arts and creative industries strengthen cultural values, beneficial tips for working with colleagues and clients from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, the benefits of greater collaboration in the global society across sectors and so much more! You will certainly be enriched by listening to this dialogue! I welcome your relevant comments on this blog. Listen to the interview here. After listening to the interview, it will deepen your understanding of cultural diversity in the U.S. and the diaspora so that it can positively inform your professional work and broaden your personal experiences. It is imperative that we as a society connect across cultures.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist/Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

 

January Language & Literacy Books

January Language & Literacy Books

We are now in the final stretch of January for 2021. It has been quite the month in the United States of America. Last week we had the inauguration of our new president Joe Biden and our first woman Vice President, Kamala Harris! That was quite amazing! I am truly proud that the first VP in the U.S. is a Black woman who also shares my Jamaican Heritage. She is also of Indian descent. There has been a push lately to have more diversity in all sectors and now we have just that in the second highest position in this country! I am beyond excited!

Anyhow, in regards to speech/language therapy, I traditionally feature many children’s books related to the winter theme to build communication, language, and literacy skills. This year, I’ve added three different and diverse books to my recommendations that you probably have not used during January in speech/language therapy or your classroom.

My first recommendation is Auntie Luce’s Talking Painting by Francie LaTour. This author is a Haitian American woman who was inspired to write this story based on her own life experience. It tells the story of a young girl who travels to Haiti during the winter from the U.S. to visit her family. During her trip, she has the privilege of having her aunt, a local artist, paint her portrait. This portrait represents a true cultural artifact that affirms her identify. Her aunt tells her stories about her family and her ancestors from Benin and other African countries. She tells her about the Freedom fighters in Haiti who defeated French soldiers and how Haiti became the first independent Black country during the colonial era. This is an excellent book that has rich vocabulary and will promote critical thinking skills during speech/language therapy or the classroom. You may have recalled that I recommended this book during the summer as well for Caribbean American heritage month. Here’s a read aloud of this amazing story.

Next, Jan Brett’s excellent book, Three Snow Bears, has been one of my favorite winter themed stories for several years now. The author was inspired to write this book after traveling to Northern Canada where she met some indigenous Inuit people. A-looki, the main character, represents a curious Inuit girl who discovers an igloo and goes inside to explore. Inside, she finds hot soup, warm boots, and a cozy place to rest her head. There’s just one thing! This igloo belongs to the Snow Bear family who went out for a walk while their breakfast cooled down a bit. While on their stroll, they help rescue A-looki’s huskies that were drifting away on a piece of ice that was floating away. A-looki was fast asleep inside the igloo and completely oblivious to her barking dogs outside who needed help. I love the illustrations of this story and the parallel between this story and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It’s an ideal book for young learners. You may use my Boom Cards listening comprehension check for this story or my printable WH questions worksheet.

My third recommendation is Rainbow Crow, a Lenape Native American tribe legend. It is retold with permission by Nancy Van Laan. I have used this book in speech/language numerous times over the years. It is an engaging and well written story that is ideal for speech/language therapy lessons and purposeful classroom interactive read alouds. In this book, readers and listeners, learn about Rainbow Crow, one of the most beautiful birds. One winter, there is heavy snow that is quickly covering the forest. The animals are taken by surprise and need help since the smaller animals were almost completely covered in the snow. These animals decide to climb on the larger animals to stay safe. This is a big problem in the story and they need a solution. In the midst of trying to decide what to do, Rainbow Crow appears. What will he do? There is a special ending that you don’t want to miss and it has an important message about diversity. You can watch a read aloud of this story here.

Grace Goes to Washington, by author Kelly DiPucchio, and illustrator LeUyen Pham is a timely book to read aloud this January to children in speech/language therapy, the classroom, or even at home with your own kids. Do you remember Grace? In a previous book, she is elected student body president at her elementary school. Now she is excited that her class is going on a field trip to Washington D.C. Before the trip, Mrs. Barrington gives the class an important lesson about the three branches of government. While in D.C., Grace and her class visit the Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol, White House, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. When they return to school, the school needs to vote on how to spend money they raised from a bake sale. The students brainstorm ideas on what to spend the money on. Grace suggests that Aman, a new student, present his idea to the student council. In the end, the classmates vote for his idea, a Friendship Mall, where students can gather at recess when they want to sit and chat with each other especially on days when they need a friend. This is a good book to activate student’s prior knowledge about Washington D.C., historic monuments, and the 3 branches of government. There are plenty of tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary that you can introduce during the read aloud and after the reading to build language skills.

Snowmen at Night, written by author Caralyn Buehner, is another classic winter themed book that many children enjoy. This is a good book for students to practice answering wh questions or story retell. In this story, a young boy builds a snowman during the day. The next morning, he notices that his snowman is leaning over. He begins to wonder what snowmen do at night. Hmmm… He thinks that perhaps they go to the park and play all night long. He imagines them having races, doing skating tricks on the frozen pond, playing baseball with snowballs, having a snowball fight, and going sledding. How do they feel at the end of the night? Speech/language pathologist and teachers can get an interactive Boom Cards activity to practice listening comprehension or join almost 5,000 people who have a printable WH questions worksheet.

My last recommendation for children’s literature to use in January is Snowmen at Work, by Caralyn Buehner. In this book the same little boy from her other story builds a snowman. Instead when he wakes up the next morning he notices a shovel next to his snowman. He also notices that his walkway leading to his front door is already shoveled. He wonders who shoveled the snow? Was it the snowman? Do snowmen work during the night while people sleep. Hmmm. The main character imagines all the jobs that snowmen may do. Perhaps they stock frozen foods at the grocery store, work as mechanics to fix snowmobiles, visit pet store with snow animals, work as bakers making delicious treats, teach snow children, or deliver frozen pizza from Frosty Pizza. Students can compare and contrast this story with the previous one. They can complete language practice with an interactive Boom Cards activity, printable WH questions worksheet, or printable synonyms & antonyms worksheets. If you prefer, you can have students annotate answers to this worksheet during a telepractice or Zoom speech/language therapy session.

I have a few other speech/language activities to other popular and engaging winter themed children’s books including:

Sneezy the Snowman- Boom Cards activity or join over 5,000 people who have my printable WH questions worksheet

The Mitten- Boom Cards activity or printable activity packet (WH questions & vocabulary)

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow- Sequencing & WH Questions printable activity

Tier I and Tier III vocabulary- Categorization Activity

Thanks for reading my children’s literature recommendations for January. I hope that you found some activities that you can use to build essential communication, language, and literacy skills too. Check back soon for next month’s selections.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist

Diversity & Equity Advocate

December Holiday Language & Literacy Books

December Holiday Language & Literacy Books

Children enjoy children’s literature throughout the year and December is an ideal time to finish the year using excellent books in speech/language therapy, the classroom, and during family literacy time. These are my recommendations for December Holiday Language & Literacy Books.

The Nutcracker in Harlem by T.E. Mc Morrow

This is an amazing book that is set during the Harlem Renaissance era in New York City. It was a time of heightened artistic and intellectual expression. Blacks during this time truly flourished in many ways. Some were a part of the great migration from the South while others lived in the Northeast for some time. Many Caribbean people also went to NYC and became a vibrant part of NY society. I love how this book transports the reader to a different time period and evokes them to imagine along with Marie the main character. The book opens with Marie the beautiful girl on the cover gathered around the love of her family at a holiday party. You can almost hear the tunes of the piano and chatter in the background as you read the pages. Then the scene changes to her opening a present, the nutcracker. What transpires after that will spark the curiosity of children. I recommend this book for children in grades 2nd-5th. It’s an excellent book to enjoy the whimsical moments of the season while also making inferences about certain story events. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to provide historical information about the Harlem Renaissance era. Here is an excellent read aloud.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

Books in this Bear series are a favorite for many children, SLPs, and teachers. This book is great for children in preschool and kindergarten-2nd grade. In this story, Bear, is sleeping in his cave. His animal friends are eager for him to wake up and stay awake for the special Christmas holiday. The friends go looking for the perfect tree in the woods and hoist in on Bear’s back to decorate his lair or cave. They hang stockings by the fire light and Bear is busy preparing food and gifts for Christmas morning. His friends fall asleep on Christmas Eve while he stays awake until Christmas morning. You can use my WH Questions quick listening comprehension activity after an interactive read aloud of this book.

Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel

This is a fun and light hearted book that is great for children and families to get an introduction into the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah or Festival of Lights that celebrates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. This children’s literature selection is a fiction tale about an elderly lady who is expecting the Rabbi or leader of the temple to visit one Hanukkah night. However, she does not see very well and mistakes an unusual visitor, Bear, as the Rabbi. She is so excited to have the Rabbi in her home that she serves him all the delicious Potato Latkes that she made. This is a traditional dish that is served in many Jewish homes during Hanukkah. It is fried in oil and reminds families of the Hanukkah miracle in which there was enough oil to light the menorah for 8 days rather than just one. She plays dreidel and even gives Bear a special gift, a winter scarf. It is not until other family and friends come knocking at her door that she realizes that her special visitor was not the Rabbi but in fact a real bear! Yikes! Children will get a kick out of this story. Remember, as adults you set the stage when using books at home, in speech/language therapy, or the classroom. Kids will be interested in certain stories when you present them in an engaging manner. Here is a read aloud of this book.

Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez

Grandma’s Gift is a heartwarming story about a boy who spends his winter break from school with his grandma because his parents have to work. She picks him up from school and they go shopping for special items for a family holiday dinner. They even take a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC so that he can complete an assignment for school. While there his grandmother spots a portrait of a famous artist that she recognizes. This sparks the little boy’s interest as he aspires to be an artist one day. This is a good book for young boys to know that they too can achieve what they desire. It is equally important that their interests are encouraged like the grandmother did in this book.

The author, Eric Velasquez, is an Afro-Puerto Rican author from Harlem, New York. This book won a Pura Bulpre award and he was awarded the Coretta Scott King Award and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

Dasher by Matt Tavares

Children and adults get excited for Christmas and winter break! Children love this book and I do too! It’s amazing how much they enjoy the magical and imaginative element of the holiday season. Matt Tavares wrote this captivating story about Dasher, a young reindeer, who embarks on a journey to follow the North Star. It’s definitely different than the usual Rudolph story. Mother reindeer tells Dasher all about life at the North Pole. Unfortunately, their reindeer family is now a part of a traveling circus owned by grouchy Mr. Finnegan. Luckily one night, Dasher escapes the circus and meets important characters in a pivotal moment. What will occur as the story unfolds? Use my WH Questions, quick listening comprehension activity, after an interactive read aloud of the story.

Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares

This is a new book that I discovered this year while shopping for new books for my niece. It tells the story of Red & Lulu, two birds who reside in a tall evergreen tree outside a family’s home. They love all the seasons of the year but especially winter because the family would decorate it with lights and join in with singing. One cold morning, Red, the cardinal flies off to find breakfast. Upon returning back she witnesses the tree being cut down and hauled away on the back of a flatbed truck. Where is Lulu? Red follows the truck above the interstate and across bridges until he loses sight of the tree. Now in a new and unusual place, Red searches for his beloved Lulu in a big city. One night, he hears voices singing their favorite song. Red follows the familiar tune and is amazed with what he sees! He’s ecstatic! The illustrations by Matt Tavares are inviting and capture the season. I recommend this book for family literacy time to build a love for different kinds of books and essentials skills. Add it to your library for future speech/language sessions or educator lessons too. There are numerous extension activities that you can do to facilitate building communication and language skills. The author was inspired to write this book thanks to the red cardinals who frequented his backyard and by reflecting about the iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree in NYC. Here’s a great read aloud of the book.

I hope that you discovered some new books to use in speech/language therapy sessions, in the classroom, or at home with your kids during December. I enjoy sharing my children’s literature recommendations. It’s great to visit my website each year for updates. Here is a look at Winter speech/language activities. I wish you all the best in the New Year! Make it great on purpose!

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist/Consultant

Diversity & Equity Advocate

Native American Heritage- Language & Literacy Books

Native American Heritage- Language & Literacy Books

Every country around the world has indigenous people who are the original inhabitants of the land. In North America, there are numerous First Nation or Native American tribes. These tribes live in the United States of America and Canada. They have a rich culture that should be recognized, taught in schools, and remembered by all. In the United States there are 574 federally recognized tribes and 231 of these are in Alaska. There are other tribes that are unrecognized by the U.S. government because they were unable to provide evidence of land claims. There is tremendous diversity among the various First Nation tribes and they have their own Tribal Government. It is important that authentic history is taught to children and adolescents. It is equally important for adults to truly understand authentic history about the Native American tribes that are most often not remembered and celebrated as they should be.

I remember learning about the Miccosukee Tribe and Seminole Tribe when I lived in Florida. These tribes are the two remaining Native American indigenous people of that state. The Miccosukee Tribe were originally part of the Seminole Tribe until they received federal recognition as an independent tribe in 1962. Additionally, this tribe was a part of the Creek Indians of Georgia. They established communities along the Tamiami Trail, a roadway that connected the historic Everglades in South Florida, Miami, and Tampa.

There are currently no Federally recognized Native American tribes in Georgia, but there are 5 non-recognized ones including the Cherokees of Georgia and Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe. In North Carolina where I lived previously, there are approximately 16,000 individuals that are a part of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. When I researched this, I was a bit surprised that there were not other tribes listed. When I attended UNC-Chapel Hill, I personally knew many students who had heritage from other tribes such as Lumbee and Haliwa Saponi. I think it’s important to know about the history and culture of First Nations people who lived and still live in the state where you and your family currently reside. You can learn more about the tribes here.

Over the years, I have shared a few Native American children’s literature recommendations that may be used meaningfully in speech/language therapy sessions, the classroom, and during family literacy time. Using books, is an amazing way to retell and honor the stories and legacy of Native American tribes. I know that some public school curriculums include some lessons about Native American tribes, but it is truly minimal. We can all do better in this area to honor the First Nations people who are indigenous to North America.

Here are 6 books that I recommend that may be purposefully used in speech/language therapy sessions, the classroom, or during family literacy time throughout the year that honor the First Nation tribes.

How the Stars Fell into the Sky- A Navajo Legend

This book is written by Jerri Oughton and illustrated by Lisa Desimini. It tells the story about the Navajo, Native American tribe, in the Southwestern U.S. In this book, the main character, First Woman, desired to write the laws of the land. She speaks with First Man about where she should write them so that people will always remember and follow them. She thinks about writing it in the dessert sand, the water, and finally decides to write them in the sky using her jewels. However, a coyote intervenes and prevents her purposeful and strategic plan that changes things forever.

Speech/Language Tip- Have children name the characters, characters’ traits, problem, and solution. Then have the children retell the story with key events in the beginning, middle, and end of the book.

Interesting Fact- This tribe is the second largest federally recognized tribe in the U.S. and has the largest reservation in the U.S. In 2015, there were over 300,000 people enrolled as tribal members.

We are Water Protectors

This book is written by Carole Lindstrom, and beautifully illustrated by Michaela Goade. They are both talented Native American women who are passionate about telling the stories of First Nations people through their art. The cover of this book is absolutely captivating and the story teaches children that water is nourishing and sacred. The main character is a brave indigenous girl who is standing up against environmental injustice that is threatening to harm the community’s water supply, environment, and sights sacred to Native Americans. In the book a snake is threatening to harm and unleash it’s poisonous venom. The snake symbolizes a pipeline that is threatening to pollute the water supply. It reminds the readers that the Native American people are still here and advocating for their community. This book encourages young readers to treasure and protect their environment. It is inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dakota protest against the Dakota oil pipeline construction that began in 2016. In May of 2017, the first oil was sent through the pipeline that runs across 4 states and 50 counties from North Dakota to Illinois. There has been concern about the environmental effects of this pipeline on the air, water, wildlife, and potential oil leaks in Native American and adjoining communities.

Speech/Language Tip: During a picture description task, have children produce oral sentences about each page. They can practice using correct morphology and syntax. SLPs, teachers, and parents can also ask “wh” and “how” questions about the book to check for comprehension and their ability to draw conclusions from the story.

Interesting Fact: In July of 2020, a U.S., District Judge ordered the massive pipeline to be emptied of oil until an environmental review was completed. However, in August of this year that decision was appealed in court. The Native American people continue to advocate for their community.

Tall Chief, America’s Prima Ballerina

This book is a biography about the life of Maria Tallchief. She is of Native American and Scottish/Irish heritage. This children’s book is written by Maria Tallchief and Larry Kaplan and Illustrated by Gary Kelley. As a child, Maria lived on the Osage reservation in Fairfax, Oklahoma with her family. She vividly remembers hearing the native drumming music and watching native dancing at family powwow gatherings with her father’s Osage tribe. Her father told her that when he was young, oil was discovered on Osage land and overnight the tribe became wealthy. She was subsequently provided different opportunities to explore ballet and other hobbies. In the book, the readers learn that her family moved to California to pursue new opportunities and Maria developed her talent as a ballet dancer. She eventually moved to New York City and performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and later the New York City Ballet. She danced in numerous roles and became a popular and world recognized ballerina.

Speech/Language Tip: This book is recommended for older elementary school aged children and middle school aged adolescents. This book has plenty of rich tier 2 vocabulary words and lots of details in the story. SLPs can ask children listening comprehension questions to check for recall of information and story comprehension. SLPs can provide opportunities for children to use sentence and paragraph context to identify/name the meanings of tier 2 words.

Interesting Fact- Maria Tallchief was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, received a National Medal of Arts, and received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievements. She is the first woman and Native American to achieve the recognition of “prima ballerina.”

Fry Bread, A Native American Family Story

I recommend this book as a read aloud for preschool and kindergarten-2nd grade students. I like the way the author, Kevin Mallard, uses a Native American food, Fry Bread, to weave a story about family unity and how we can all share Fry Bread literally and metaphorically. The illustrations done by Juana Martinez-Neal are inviting and depict children from diverse backgrounds enjoying time with a Native American family. Food is something delicious that connects us all. At the end of the book, the author skillfully reminds the readers and listeners that the Native American tribes still exist today and are present throughout the United States. Fry bread is food. Fry bread is time. Fry bread is nation. Fry bread is us.

Speech/Language Tip– SLPs can use this book during a picture description task. Children can practice formulating sentences using correct vocabulary, morphology, and syntax to describe the pages.

Interesting Fact– This book is a 2020 American Youth Literature Picture Book Honor Winner and the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal. Did you know that Fry Bread is a flatbread that is usually eaten plain or with toppings like honey, jam, venison, or beef ? It can also be used to make tacos. Some tribes such as the Navajo and Creek make this food while others consider it a food that represents colonialism.

Crossing Bok Chitto

After listening to or reading this story, it will definitely evoke a variety of emotions. Tim Tingle, is a Choctaw Nation storyteller and author. He skillfully tells this story about how the lives of Native Americans and African Americans came together. In this story, the two groups live parallel yet different lives. This book is set during the time of slavery in which Blacks had no rights yet the Native Americans led “freeish” lives. The main characters are a young Native Choctaw girl and African American boy who is a slave. Over the years, they develop a friendship and use a secret path across the river stones to visit each other. One day, the Black family’s life is about to change due to forced separation. The young boy seeks the help of his Native Choctaw friend one night that will positively change his family’s life. She requests the help from her tribe as well. This book is quite interesting and depicts the intersection between the contrasting lives of the characters.

Speech/Language Tip– I recommend this book for upper elementary school aged and middle school students. This is an excellent book to work on critical thinking and tier 2 vocabulary. The SLP can have children and adolescents make inferences and draw conclusions. They can also answer vocabulary questions using sentences and paragraph context.

Interesting Fact– Some African-American families in the U.S. have Native American heritage. Often times, slaves who escaped and found their way into these communities were protected and lived along side various First Nation tribes. This is evident in certain communities in Florida, North Carolina, and many other states. The illustrator, Jeanne Rorex Bridges was born in Oklahoma and is of Cherokee heritage. She currently resides in Texas.

Rainbow Crow, A Lenape Tale

I have read this story to several speech/language therapy groups over the years. It’s a good book to use with children in preschool-2nd grade during the winter season and tells the story of a Lenape legend that is orally passed down through generations. The animals are concerned about how the earth suddenly became cold and that the animals experienced snow for the first time. The forest animals gather around and discuss what they should do because of the lengthy winter. The snow grew deeper and deeper. All of a sudden, a rainbow crow appeared and called out to the woodland animals and volunteered to be a messenger to the sky spirit to ask to stop the snow. l love the vibrant colors in this story that are beautifully done by illustrator Beatriz Vidal and the events written by author, Nancy Van Laan. She invites the reader and listener to join in the tale about how the gift of fire warms the woodland animals and melts the snow. However, in the process, the rainbow crow gets singed by the stick of fire. His rainbow feathers are no more but he still reflected all the rainbow colors in his now black feathers.

Speech/Language Tip-Children should practice answering literal and inferential questions about the text. They can discuss the animals that appeared in the story and their character traits. They can identify/name the problem and solution of this story.

Interesting Fact– The author was inspired to write this book when she learned about the Lenape tribe in Pennsylvania, her home state.

These are some other great books that are about First Nations in Canada written by author Nicola Campbell. Many are listed in my book shop. You can view them here. Some of them include: Stand Like Cedar, A Day with Yayah, Shi-Shi-Etko and Kamik-An Inuit Puppy story by Donald Uluadluak and Qin Leng.

Also, I share non-fiction information about the Native American tribes in Georgia and Florida in this Mini-Lesson on Compare & Contrast that I previously created. You can view this here.

I hope that you learned lots of new information and have some practical tips that you can use in speech/language therapy sessions with children with language disorders or during family literacy time at home with your own kids. Remember that representation matters and it is important for Native Americans or First Nations people to have their voices heard and seen depicted in children’s literature and our American society. They are still here. We reside on their land.

Speech/Language Therapy Success Tips- 2020 Hybrid

Speech/Language Therapy Success Tips- 2020 Hybrid

We are now in the final stretch of 2020!! I can not believe how fast this year has gone by. I still remember celebrating the new year in Florida with my family. This year, the global pandemic, has stretched many speech-language pathologists in ways that they did not even think were possible. You are providing teletherapy services or a hybrid mix of in person and teletherapy services. I realize that some speech language pathologists feel like they are learning how to do a new job while for others it may be an easier transition to new service delivery models. Either way, you have made it to the end of 2020 and IT IS POSSIBLE to finish the remainder of 2020 strong while implementing new strategies. It may just take a mindset shift and some beneficial ideas that you can use right away to simplify your SLP work life. Here are 5 practical, helpful, and relatively easy to implement Speech/Language Therapy Success tips for SLPs. These are ideal to use when working with elementary school aged children, middle school aged children and adolescents with communication disorders, learning disabilities, and autism.

  1. Remember that you HAVE the clinical skills to continue delivering effective speech/language therapy services.

Think about the big picture. What are the goals that you are helping the children on your caseload achieve? Prioritize their speech/language and IEP goals and work on building the most functional goals first. For example, make sure that you address speech articulation targets that need remediation based on their age and that will increase their speech intelligibility the most. For children with receptive/expressive language disorder, you should use the language processing hierarchy when working on vocabulary goals in sessions. Children learn to:

  1. label nouns
  2. state actions/object functions
  3. state tier 1 word associations
  4. complete divergent/convergent categorization tasks
  5. explain tier 1 word similarities/differences
  6. explain multiple meanings (homophones/homographs)
  7. explain tier 1 words with attributes

There are several resources that you can use to address these goals during hybrid sessions including this digital product.

For K-5 elementary students or adolescents in middle school, you can have them verbally summarize non-fiction information or compare/contrast key points from various topics. There are several free non-fiction passages and paired texts available on the website readworks.org. SLPs and students can create a free account. I recommend that SLPs read aloud passages with expression, emphasize key vocabulary, and model think alouds to help students comprehend. If you prefer, you can choose the read aloud option by clicking on the speaker. The reading passages on this website are labeled by grade level and reading lexile levels.

2. Continue using certain therapy materials that are STILL effective and engaging during therapy sessions while implementing COVID precautions.

For example, articulation cards are STILL beneficial to use during speech sound drill work. You can use these behind a plexiglass screen and during online Zoom or other teletherapy platforms. This makes a perfect warm up articulation drill activity and is ideal to collect data at the beginning of a session.

You can also use vocabulary and critical thinking task cards from other hands on materials that you already have in your therapy room. Speech language pathologists can use cards from Vocabulary, Grammar, or Phonological Awareness Chipper Chat to build essential skills. Due to COVID-19 precautions, I would skip passing out the gameboards to the students with the magnetic wands. Instead, use the cards to elicit questions and practice. SLPs can leave 5 minutes of the session for a digital reward game that is projected on a white board at the end of an in person therapy session or teletherapy sessions.

Use toys with lower functioning students who need play based materials to build functional communication skills. Continue using toys that can easily be cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure that you limit the number of children who will have access to the toys. You can use bubbles, jumbo blocks, puzzles, sensory toys, and other building toys from Lakeshore Learning. Click here for an example. Make sure that you also thoroughly clean items before using with another child.

Use your diverse book collection during therapy sessions. I believe that engaging books are like speech/language therapy GOLD. The children love hearing stories and they look forward to new monthly selections. I use seasonal books and celebrate different cultures throughout the year. Subscribe to my Language & Literacy channel for some read alouds that you can use in therapy. I still do interactive read alouds of many books during teletherapy sessions and in person therapy. There are many extension activities that SLPs may use meaningfully to build phonological awareness/phonemic awareness, articulation and language skills. At times, I give students a choice of 2 books and they can choose the book for that week.

3. Utilize a variety of digital resources to maximize therapy effectiveness and engagement of children and adolescents.

I recommend using static PDFS, interactive PDFS, Boom Cards, and Google Glides. I also recommend categorizing these materials into frequently used therapy categories for easy access during both in person and teletherapy/Digital Learning speech/language therapy sessions. Speech/Language pathologists can create as many categories as needed for the types of goals that they are addressing in speech/language therapy. You can create these categories and save files in Google Drive and the online Boom Card platform. You can start building your library with FREE resources by searching for activities that you need. Click here to start a Boom Learning account. Here are some recommended categories:

articulation/phonology

speech fluency

vocabulary

morphology/syntax

basic concepts/following directions

sequencing

general language (WH/HOW Questions)

pragmatic language

fall activities

Additionally, speech/language pathologists may access my free Technology Resource Guide here as well as my BOOM Learning store here for ready to use digital materials. Many of you most likely have numerous Digital resources from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) that can be easily used during teletherapy and in person services. Just select the products that you believe are most effective to use during screen share time during ZOOM or another teletherapy platform. For your in person students, I recommend projecting those PDF activities on your white board in your speech room. Remember save these files in your GOOGLE drive for easy access.

4. Continue to take data during sessions as you normally would pre-pandemic season.

During Digital Learning or teletherapy sessions, speech/language pathologists can use the first few minutes to take data on articulation, language, or fluency goals. You may also record data as children take turns during group sessions on a variety of goals. Just write down data as you typically would. SLPs should do the same for in person speech/language therapy sessions. I recommend using my progress monitoring tools when you can to make your life easier with ready to use data elicitation probes. I have a ton of data recording forms with elicitation questions in my TPT store. Get your digital downloads here. I recommend saving these in your Google Drive so that you can easily print them off when you need them. These may also be used as editable PDFs to record data if you prefer on your computer.

5. Organize your speech/language caseload by groups and use simple planning sheet.

Over the years, I have worked in an outpatient pediatric hospital clinic, elementary schools, middle school, and pediatric private practice. In all of these settings, I have found that it is quite effective to use file folders for each speech/language group or individual session. In each folder, I staple an attendance sheet and parent contact log in the inside cover of the folder. Inside the folder, I have my quick therapy planning sheet, data sheets, and any upcoming worksheets or progress monitoring forms that I will use for that group. At the end of each session or at the end of each day, I write down what each group will do in the next session. I usually list 2-3 ideas. It is perfectly fine to make adjustments to what you planned during a session. Each day, just pull your therapy files for the day and you’ll be ready to go. Just open the tabs on your computer to your Google Drive and Boom Learning account with all your easily accessible materials and you’ll be ready to provide engaging, functional, and meaningful speech/language therapy each day.

I hope that these Speech/Language Therapy Success Tips were helpful to you. When speech language pathologists implement these tips, most children and adolescents will be happy to come to therapy and make progress on speech/language goals during this different pandemic season. Keep up the great work and remember that you can do many things BUT you don’t have to do it all in one week. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a wonderful week! Make sure that you subscribe to my website because I’ll be sending out new information soon to my followers.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist

Special Education Consultant

Building Successful Lives Speech & Language Services

Hispanic & Latinx Language & Literacy Books-2020 Edition

Hispanic & Latinx Language & Literacy Books-2020 Edition

We are now heading into week 3 of Hispanic Heritage month. Last week, I revealed my 2020 recommendations to celebrate the numerous positive contributions of Hispanic, Latinx, and other authors that show appreciate for these diverse cultures on my Instagram. This year, I have six new children’s literature selections to tell you about. Use the books purposefully during speech/language therapy sessions, in the classroom, and/or during family literacy time to build communication, language, and literacy skills.

Maybe Something Beautiful- Authors F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell; Illustrator- Rafael Lopez

This is a captivating story written by author and international scholar, F. Isabel Campoy, who is dedicated to the study of language acquisition and literacy. She is originally from the beautiful seaside port of Alicante, Spain and has resided in Michigan, California, and other places as well. Over the last 30 years, she has contributed extensively to the field of language and the intersection of culture. Theresa Howell started her career as a children’s book editor and publisher. She lives in Colorado with her husband and children.

The book is an artistic interpretation of real events in East Village in San Diego, California. The little girl, Mira, in this story loves to draw and paint pictures. She gives them to people in her community. She reminds me of my niece who is always drawing pictures. One day, Mira, meets a muralist who is transforming the neighborhood in many ways. She joins him in painting murals and others do too. The illustrations crafted by muralist, Rafael Lopez, in this book are amazing and so is the story. This is an ideal book to add to your diverse book collection for many reasons. It’s available in English and Spanish (Quizas Algo Hermoso). Click here for a read aloud. Click here for more book details and learn about the real Urban Art Trail.

Speech/Language Associated Activity Ideas: listening comprehension/wh & how questions, vocabulary, articulation drills

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Dear Primo- Author & Illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh

Duncan Tonatiuh is a Mexican-American author and illustrator who writes cultural stories with vivid depictions. He is originally from Mexico City and currently resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He is an advocate for worker’s rights and enjoys incorporating illustrations of a particular indigenous people group of Mexico, the Mixtecs. He travels throughout the U.S. providing author visits and discussions of his literary works.

This is a relatable story about cousins. Carlito, lives in the United States and Charlie lives in Mexico. They write to each other to describe their communities and everyday experiences such as living in the city vs. country, going to school, and playing sports at recess like futbol and basketball. They talk about their favorite foods like quesadilla vs. pizza, what they play after school, and traditions in their countries. I like how the author uses Spanish words within the story and compares/contrasts the cousins’ lives. Click here for a read aloud by the author.

Speech/Language Associated Activity Ideas- listening comprehension/wh questions, similarities/differences, articulation drills, inferences

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Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away- Author Meg Medina, Illustrator- Sonia Sanchez

This is a new book released in September of 2020, by Meg Medina, a talented Cuban-American author. She wrote this endearing story about two best friends, Evelyn and Daniela, who live in New York city. They live in apartment buildings across the street from each other and love spending time playing with each other. Daniela narrates this story about their last day together during the autumn season. Evelyn is moving to a new home in a warmer climate. She invites her mejor amiga, Daniela, her numero uno best friend to play as usual. There is a big difference about this day because her apartment is covered in boxes since it’s moving day. They recall memories they have shared from Evelyn’s sunny yellow room to Daniela’s cotton candy colored pink room. They find an empty box and Daniela pretends that she’s driving the bus in the city as they gaze at the skyscrappers. The girls twirl around in the empty space and make plans for summer visits. “But I know that tomorrow everything will be different. Evelyn will be in a new home that doesn’t match mine.” At the end of the book, Daniela places a sparkly heart sticker on Evelyn’s cheek and she does the same, to seal a promise. What a precious story of friendship that girls can relate to. This is a excellent multi-cultural story that can build skills too.

Speech/Language Associated Activities- oral language, picture description, WH questions, tier I /tier II vocabulary

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Young Pele, Soccer’s First Star- Author Lisa Cline-Ransome, Illustrator James Ransome

This book is written and illustrated by award winning African-American husband and wife team, Lisa and James Ransome who reside in New York. They enjoy creating books with historical perspectives, researching main characters’ lives, culture, and sports. Young Pele, Soccer’s First Star, is about the childhood of Edson Arantes do Naciemento, known as Pele, from Brazil. Pele is one of the greatest professional soccer players who won three World Cups for Brazil and later played on a New York team. Pele was awarded the International Peace Award for his humanitarian work with UNICEF.

Lisa Ransome tells the childhood story about Edson and his love for soccer or futbol as it is called in Latin America. There were days that he would daydream at school about playing with his friends. Edson grew up very poor and his team did not have money for athletic shoes and even made their own ball initially. Eventually, their team’s coach raised money for used shoes. Edson or Pele worked hard and practiced his athletic skills. His father also was a good player, but had an injury in his youth. This book teaches kids the importance of following their dreams and perseverance as Pele was known throughout the world for his futbol talent. Her husband, James created vivid watercolor illustrations that depicts the story. Lisa is originally from Malden, Massachusetts (near Boston) and James is from a small rural town named, Rich Square, North Carolina. They have other great historical books too. You can learn about their backgrounds and the inspiration behind their creative works here and the research they do prior to writing and illustrating.

Speech/Language Associated Activities- story retell, sequence of events, oral language, picture description, WH questions, tier I /tier II vocabulary

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We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands- Author & Illustrator Rafael Lopez

Have you discovered any of Rafael Lopez’s children’s books previously? I highly recommend his work. He is an internationally recognized author and illustrator who resides in California. This is another book that I recently added to my diverse book collection. It’s ideal for young learners in preschool and kindergarten-second grade. I like the multi-racial and multi-cultural children depicted in this story and the simple yet powerful message. My favorite books are ones with an excellent message and vibrant illustrations. This book introduces listeners and readers to children all around the world and how they all have something important to contribute. Additionally, it teaches the importance of multi-culturalism, unity, and diverse friendships. Learn more about the author and his other books here. I’ve mentioned others on my Instagram and Book Shop previously.

Speech/Language Associated Activities- tier I vocabulary, inferences, building receptive/expressive language, picture description

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Islandborn – Author & Illustrator Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz is a Dominican American author and illustrator who skillfully wrote the book, Islandborn, that is reflective of the island, Dominican Republic. He was born and raised in Santo Domingo, DR. He treasures his memories growing up on this Caribbean island. This sweet story, is about Lola, an Afro-Latina young girl who lives in New York. One day at school, she is given the task of sharing and drawing about her first home, the country where she is from. Many of the kids in her class were from other places too and remembered details about their native countries. However, Lola immigrated to the U.S. as a baby so she didn’t remember much about her first home. She decides to interview different family members and people in her neighborhood. In gathering information, Lola begins to transport herself back home to the island of her birth. This a very relatable story for many children who have immigrated to this country with their family. Junot Diaz, recognizes the importance of celebrating his culture in his stories. As someone who was born in the Caribbean and who immigrated to Florida as a child, I love how this book celebrates the power of storytelling and the colorful illustrations. Listen to his read aloud of his story here. Here’s another read aloud video of this story.

Speech/Language Associated Activities- listening comprehension/WH & How Questions, story retell, tier I vocabulary, inferences, picture description

Thanks for reading the blog today. Let me know your favorite stories that celebrate the diversity of Hispanic & Latinx cultures. Here are last year’s recommendations and you’ll learn more about this cultural heritage month.

All the best,

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

Speech Language Pathologist

Education Specialist

Special Education Consultant

Back to School Language & Literacy Books- 2020 Edition

Back to School Language & Literacy Books- 2020 Edition

We are officially in the last quarter of the year and 2020 has certainly been a year of plenty twists and turns. I have been providing speech/language teletherapy services for the last few weeks and have started to provide some in person therapy services as well in my area. Children’s literature continues to be an excellent way for speech-language pathologists to build communication, language, and literacy skills in children with special needs. It is important to have books that children will be interested in and that reflect the diversity of our nation. I have selected six books to recommend to you all for the 2020 school year to use purposefully in speech-language therapy sessions. These books may be used to address speech articulation, receptive language, expressive language, and social-emotional skills of children with speech/language disorders, autism, and specific learning disability.

Connie Schofield-Morrison, is a Black author and entrepreneur in Atlanta who wrote, I Got the School Spirit, and her husband Frank Morrison, is the illustrator. She has a love for the arts and poetry too. She even opened an online art gallery and later physical art gallery with her husband in Atlanta.

This book is ideal for this time of year. Some students are eager for the start of the year and some will need a little nudging. The books follows a little girl who is ready for the first day of school after the end of summer break. Follow her along as she experiences the spirit, sights and sounds of her day. There are plenty of opportunities in this book to build communication and language skills. Use it to work on basic sequence of events, speech articulation, and even figurative language examples (e.g. onomatopeia). Kids can practice key vocabulary such as Stomp Stomp, Sizzle Sizzle, Zip Zip, Vroom Vroom, Hug Hug, Here Here, Crunch, Munch, Sip, Ka-Pow, Squish, and Squeeze. They can describe basic tier 1 word with attributes, name common nouns, name verbs, and describe pictures in sentences. This book is a perfect way to bring some pleasant vibes into your speech sessions at the beginning of the year. It’s a great way to start off for sure!

Charlie the Ranch Dog, by Ree Drummond, is one of my favorite children’s books to read aloud to children at the beginning of the year. It has a good storyline and wonderful illustrations. It is very appropriate for the current season we are in which many children are going to school at home. It also provides kids a glimpse of country life living on a ranch. In this story, the children are homeschooled by their mom. Charlie, their dog, has an idea to try out his teaching skills by starting his own school with the animals on the ranch! This book is good to work on basic listening comprehension, story recall, and basic narrative retell. Make sure that you have a copy of my complimentary WH questions quick listening check here. You’ll be amazed how consistent interactive read alouds and listening comprehension checks will build children’s language and literacy skills.

Different, A Story About Loving Your Neighbor, by author and speaker, Chris Singleton, is a new 2020 children’s literature release. It is beautifully illustrated by Wiliam Luong with vibrant colors and detailed depictions of the characters. This one is definitely near and dear to my heart. Chris Singleton wrote this book in honor of his late mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, who was the victim of a racial hate crime in Charleston, South Carolina in 2005. She was a speech-language pathologist at my former elementary school here in Atlanta. I think it’s amazing that he wrote this story while coping with the tragic death of his mother. He did it purposefully to send a message to the world that it is absolutely necessary to love others no matter their race, skin color, or religion. PAUSE. BREATHE. How incredible!

In this book, Obinna, the main character and his family immigrate to the U.S. from Nigeria because his father got a new job. On the first day of school, he decides to wear traditional African attire because he is proud of his heritage. Unfortunately, his new classmates are quick to remind him how different he is from them. However, his teacher encourages him that being different is a great thing and that he has special talents and abilities that others don’t have because we are all unique. This is an excellent book to develop community in speech/language sessions, in the classroom, or at home during family literacy time. Speech/language therapists can elicit oral story retell, answering literal/inferential questions, and tier 1/tier 2 vocabulary identification and expression. Purchase your copy here and make sure to promote anti-racist values throughout the year. Read my previous blog honoring Sharonda Coleman-Singleton here.

I Got the Rhythm, is another excellent and upbeat book by Connie Schofield-Morrison and it is illustrated by Frank Morrison. It’s ideal to use with children who are working on speech articulation skills and building basic expressive language skills. The main character experiences the rhythm with all her senses. Through her voice and movements, she emphasizes certain words and sounds with ease. Think Think. Beat Beat. Blink Blink. Sniff Sniff. Ohh La La. Clap Clap. Snap Snap. Children can practice the repetitive sounds and words as they follow the rhythm that the girl experiences. Knock Knock. Stomp Stomp. Beat Bop. Clapped and Snapped. Tipped and Tapped. Popped and Locked. Hipped and Hopped. Beat Bop. Bing Bang. Boom Boom. Boom Box. Beat Bop. Kaboom Kaboom. There are opportunities to practice these sounds: /th/, /b/, /bl/, /sn/ , /l/, /cl/, /st/ , /t/, /b/, /p/, /k/ and other phonemes too. This is a fun book to practice speech sounds, expressive language, and it is great for extension activities with phonological awareness practice too! I got the rhythm…what about you!

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, by James Dean, is another one of my recommendations for 2020. This series of kids’ books is ALWAYS a favorite in my speech-language therapy sessions when I give them a choice of books. My students with communication disorders, autism, and learning disabilities all love Pete the Cat stories year after year. I have used this book throughout the year for several years now. This book is great because it teaches children the importance of having a positive outlook. Everyday may not always be good, but you can find the good in every day. This story has a great message about having gratitude and it is ideal for working on answering who questions to name the characters in the book and describing the sequence of events. Children can try to remember the order that Pete encounters the animals as the story unfolds. Its okay to have them use the book as a visual prompt to assist them with retelling the sequence of events and answering questions if they need a cue.

A Boy Like You, written by Frank Murphy, and illustrated by Kayla Harren, is a 2020 book release. It is a book that depicts diverse characters of various races and ethnicities. This book has excellent vocabulary and message about living an authentic life. The author was deliberate about providing age appropriate advice for all boys like “do the right thing even when no one is looking.” It truly is an inclusive book that is perfect for use in speech-language therapy to work on “wh” questions and critical thinking skills. Children can practice identifying and explaining the meanings of tier 2 words such as: billions, strong, precisely, solve, curious, risk, fear, secret, fear, bravery, strong, dream, unique, exactly, wish, connect, travel, importantly, thoughtful, and original. This book teaches boys about physical strengths, inner strengths, and that it is ok and healthy to show their emotions. Remember, the world needs a boy…a boy like you.

Make sure that you check out last year’s Back to School Language & Literacy Book recommendations too. I always like to have a variety of books available in my speech/language therapy room while providing therapeutic intervention to address children’s communication and language needs. I typically provide kids new children’s literature choices every few weeks. I hope that you find these book recommendations helpful! Thanks for reading my blog and make sure to subscribe. I wish you all the best as you continue providing valuable speech/language services to numerous children and families while working in the school setting, pediatric private practice, and/or providing teletherapy services.

Caribbean American Heritage Language & Literacy Books

Caribbean American Heritage Language & Literacy Books

Did you know that June is recognized in the United States as Caribbean American Heritage Month? This is the 15th year that marks the celebration of the positive contributions that people of Caribbean heritage have made to the fabric of American society. There are over 30 Caribbean countries in the world. People from many of these countries have immigrated to the United States. Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad & Tobago are the 5 countries that have the largest populations residing in the United States. Also, Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, has many citizens who live here as well. There are certain states and cities that have diverse communities of Caribbean Americans. Many of these families reside in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater), Georgia (Atlanta), Massachusetts (Boston), Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and California.

It is important for all Americans to learn about Caribbean Americans who have influenced the culture of this country and all facets of American life. Children and families can also read books by Caribbean American authors including Meg Medina, Margarita Engle, Cedella Marley, and Francie Latour. There are numerous other Caribbean authors who publish children’s literature primarily in the UK and the Caribbean. Here are a few multicultural books that you can add to your collection that are readily accessible in local bookstores or online. Use the books at home during family literacy time, during speech language therapy sessions, or in the classroom. Click here to access the books in my Literacy Shop.

Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour, Illustrated by Ken Daley

This is an absolutely beautiful and captivating story about a little girl who traveled with her family from up North to Haiti. She’s excited to see her auntie and sit for a portrait. Her magical hands paint stories with effortless strokes. She also learns about her Haitian heritage and heroes of the island. The language in this book is rich and it will be a great addition to your diverse collection of children’s books. Francie Latour currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts with her family.

One Love by Cedella Marley, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This book embraces diversity and reminds children to see and experience love that surrounds them. Children can demonstrate love in their actions. It’s a good reminder for adults too. This book is adapted from the timeless song One Love, by Bob Marley, the Jamaican artist. Values begin at home and in our communities. With all that’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the heart of mankind? Give thanks when you see the good and work towards a better society every day. This book celebrates unity and team work to build a strong community.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez

This is a colorful and powerful story about a multicultural young girl. She dreamed of playing the drums, but it was not something that girls were allowed to do in Cuba. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and imagery as she continues to dream. She is determined to learn to play and her father finally agreed to allow her take lessons. Her teacher is mesmerized by her natural ability. Magarita Engle, a Cuban American author, writes this poetic book about the life of Milo Castro Zaldarriago, a Chinese African Cuban girl who boldly broke the taboo against female drummers in Cuba. Girls of color can do amazing things! The illustrator, Rafael Lopez was recognized for his vibrant and captivating artwork in this book.

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Mia, the main character in the book, has a special visitor, her abuela. In fact, her abuela or grandmother leaves her home island to live with her family in America since it’s getting harder for her to live on her own. Mia helps her grandmother learn English while she learns a few Spanish words. Abuela is happy to be with her family, but she feels a bit homesick. One day Mia goes to the pet store with her mom and buys a gift, a parrot, for her abuela to remind her of the ones back home near her Mango tree on the island. They name their new pet Mango and it helps them better communicate with each other. Meg Medina is a Cuban-American author who writes stories that reflects on her multi-cultural and immigrant heritage.

Get Up Stand Up by Cedella Marley, Illustrated by John Jay Cabuay

I absolutely love the message in this book adapted by Cedella Marley, the daughter of Jamaican reggae singer/songwriter, Bob Marley. It’s based on his original song. This book encourages children to be true to who they are, remember what is right, and stand up against bullying. The repetitive line in the book is Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights. In this simple picture book for young kids, the main character is teased at school. She learns how to stand up for herself and her friends support her. This story is perfect to use with preschool-2nd grade students to learn about anti-bullying and conflict resolution which is prevalent in schools. Click here for a free read aloud. Cedella Marley currently resides in Miami, Florida.

Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina, Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Meg Medina, Cuban-American author, writes this children’s story set in New York about two best friends, Evelyn and Daniela, who live in the same apartment building. They enjoy spending time with each other. This story describes their friendship and depicts the last day that they play together as Evelyn’s family packs to move to a new city. They promise to stay in touch and remember their special bond. This is a good book for girls to learn the importance of friendship. This book is expected to be released later this year in September of 2020. Meg Medina currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.

Have you read any of these stories? As a speech-language pathologist, education specialist, small business owner and a Caribbean American woman, I enjoy using multi-cultural books in my speech language therapy sessions. I also read many books with my niece who will begin first grade next school year. It’s important to provide kids access to books that depict their race/culture and races/cultures that differ from the mainstream. I was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica and immigrated to Miami, Florida as a child. I know how important it is for children to see themselves and other cultures reflected in the books that they read.