When it comes to planning language therapy, school-based SLPs do not have a lot of time to prep and make materials.
Using shared book reading strategies in speech therapy can be an effective way to plan lessons quickly and implement language intervention techniques that work.
Plus, you can also implement a parent or staff coaching model by showing support staff how to implement shared book reading strategies during classroom instruction. This can help with further generalization of language skills. If you need more information about different collaborative services, check out this BLOG POST.
What Are Shared Book Reading Strategies?
Shared book reading strategies are a set of techniques that adults can use while reading a story to increase a child’s engagement with the story. The goal of using structured interactive book reading techniques is to help enhance the child’s language and literacy skills.
Instead of just reading the book aloud to the child, the adult is uses shared book reading strategies to help the child learn new vocabulary, answer questions about the story, and draw connections with the characters and events.
Using interactive book reading strategies helps struggling readers have support to participate in enjoying the story and it allows children to access books that they may not be able to read on their own.
As speech pathologists, we see students with language impairments on our caseloads. The research shows that when our students oral language improves, their reading comprehension will improve as well!
In fact, there is research that found when language interventions focus on a broad set of oral language skills such as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, narrative skills, and inferencing are linked to showing effective outcomes for student’s reading comprehension.
We can work on all those broad oral language skills using books.
Benefits of Shared Book Reading Strategies in Speech Therapy
First off, I will just say that if you do not have a ton of time to plan therapy, using books to guide instruction is the way to go! It will save you time planning therapy without losing the effectiveness of the intervention.
Secondly, when you use shared book reading strategies you organically increase student engagement. They are more actively participating during the story, they begin to predict the events in the story, learn that the pictures can provide clues about the story and characters, and it reduces the cognitive demands for processing language.
Using books can be an easy way to incorporate opportunities to work on lots of different skills such as categories, tier II vocabulary, wh-questions, grammar concepts, perspective-taking, and story retell.
And, our students have to use literature in the classroom every day, so if we can enhance their language and ability to follow the events of a story, they will generalize those skills into the classroom setting better.
There is research that shows that when using shared book reading strategies, students learn 1.22 more words on average than when interactive book strategies aren’t used.
Types of Shared Book Reading Strategies to Use in Speech Therapy
Before reading the book, you can discuss the title. Have students make predictions about why you chose the book or what they think the story will be about based on the title and picture of the book.
You can also discuss key vocabulary before reading the book to help expose them to concepts or vocabulary they may not have heard before to help with comprehension.
Another easy strategy is to point to the vocabulary in the pictures of the story and provide clear, child-friendly definitions.
Then, during extension activities, you can have the child act out those words and make connections with those target vocabulary words.
Another strategy to build vocabulary is to label pictures in the book, describing the characters while pointing to the pictures or text, and asking questions related to the story.
After reading the book, you can discuss the book with your students. This is when you can ask them to make personal connections with a story. For example, with the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, you can ask your students to reflect on a day that wasn’t great. This can be an opportunity to compare/contrast their horrible day to Alexander’s.
This increases the opportunity for students to hear and use the targeted vocabulary from the story.
Often times in therapy we may use a book 1-2 times, but with shared book reading, they encourage repeatedly reading stories because it allows students to ask more questions and can talk more about the content as they become more familiar with the story elements.
One way you can increase opportunities for story retell, practicing vocabulary or using verbs from the story is to plan extension activities using toys, sensory bins, visual story maps, etc. I love using my Penguin senosry bin with the book, Tacky the Penguin.
Materials to Help You Implement Shared Book Reading
For all of my whole class and small group therapy sessions, I always use a book to plan my therapy.
I use the shared book reading strategies while I read the book to the group. Then, we discuss the book or review the vocabulary as a group. To keep students engaged, we will break up into group stations in which I have extension activities that align with the book. This allows we to review the vocabulary and verbs from the story.
In all of my push-in unit, I include a Google Slide, a parent newsletter with book suggestions and activities that cover the theme.
There are also 3-5 activities included for small group. This allows me to use a theme such as the farm, and pick different farm books to use with the students. I can interchange the books in the theme and always have extension activities that align with the vocabulary.
Free Story Element Visual Supports
While you read the book, you can work on identifying the story elements with these free story elements visuals. You can put them on popsicle sticks and give each student in the group a couple of story elements to listen for in the book. If you need more ideas with popsicles, head to this BLOG POST. Just click the pink button below to grab your free visuals.
Book Recommendations to Use in Speech Therapy
If you need help with finding books to use in your speech therapy sessions, check out these blog posts:
–Beyond the Book- Maya’s Book Nook provides questions, vocabulary to target, and a post-activity to do!
–Diverse Books for Speech Therapy by Sweet Southern Speech
Lervåg, A. , Hulme, C. and Melby‐Lervåg, M. (2017). Unpicking the developmental relationship between oral language skills and reading comprehension: It’s simple, but complex. Child Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/cdev.12861
Flack, Z. M., Field, A. P, & Horst, J. (2017). The effects of shared storybook reading on word learning: a meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/dev0000512.
Dickinson, D. K., Nesbitt, K. T., Collins, M. F., Hadley, E. B., Newman, K., Riveria, B. L., …Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2019). Teaching for breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Learning from explicit and implicit instruction and the storybook texts. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.07.012