If you are a speech-language pathologist searching for the best children’s books for speech therapy, check out this blog post! Using books during speech therapy sessions provide a fun way to target articulation and language goals. This article explains why SLPs might use children’s books in speech therapy. Additionally, it provides suggestions for how to use books in speech therapy, as well as suggestions for actual books that target a variety of speech and language skills. There are books listed by target speech sound. Additionally, there are book suggestions for vocabulary development, story retell, sequencing, spatial concepts, wordless picture books, imitating actions, gestures, and sounds, and books that promote diversity and inclusion. Finally, this blog post provides links to 5 websites that SLPs or other educators might use to access free digital libraries.
This post contains affiliate links, which means we could receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended.
Why Speech Pathologists Use Children’s Books in Speech Therapy
Books are such a wonderful tool to use with children who have language delays. In fact, shared book reading has been found to have a positive impact on receptive and expressive language skills.
When we read books aloud to children, we are exposing them to a ton of new vocabulary that they wouldn’t typically hear in conversation! The more exposure and direct instruction children have to new vocabulary words (especially tier II vocabulary words), the better! Think about it: how often would your students hear the word ‘huddle’ in their day to day? But exposure to new vocabulary will also help increase literacy skills! SLPs also know how important vocabulary instruction is, and that it needs to be interactive and fun. Students have to be able to do more than spit out definitions. They need to actually make connections between words and their meanings.
In addition to encouraging vocabulary development, books also provide a wonderful way to increase narrative skills. Skills like retelling stories, summarizing, and sequencing can be directly taught through appropriate children’s books.
Books can also be a fantastic tool for targeting comprehension goals.
Speech sound targets can be addressed using books as well during speech therapy sessions.
Finally, books provide a fun way to keep kids engaged during speech therapy sessions.
How To Use Books in a Speech Therapy Session
It’s easy to incorporate books in a speech therapy session! Engaging stories encourage language learning. Children’s books are a wonderful way to target a variety of speech and language objectives.
Here are some ideas that school SLPs could try during therapy sessions in academic settings or outpatient speech therapy:
- Identify tier II vocabulary in the book. Discuss the definitions of unknown vocabulary terms both before, and during, a story read-aloud. Have the students write target vocabulary words on index cards, and draw pictures or write sentences to pair with that definition.
- Incorporate the strategy of dialogic reading into your story read-aloud.
- Find any target word that pairs with a specific speech sound. Write those words on a dry-erase board while reading, then review them after the story read aloud.
- Discuss any figurative language while reading a story aloud.
- Sort pictures related to the book into different categories. For example, if reading The Little Blue Truck, one might sort farm animal pictures and vehicle pictures into separate piles.
- Answer comprehension questions about the story.
- Discuss any figurative language while reading a story aloud.
- Review the story grammar elements using a graphic organizer (plot, setting, point of view, characters, and conflict).
- Have students retell the story using their own words. Provide a list of transition words to help them out.
- Describe story characters or objects using a multisensory tool, such as the Expanding Expression Toolkit.
The Best Children’s Books for Speech Sounds and Articulation Therapy
SLPs can incorporate literacy into speech therapy sessions while targeting articulation. There are too many book options to list!
The best part is that, typically, you can use (almost) any book of your choice to target any speech sound. If the text doesn’t directly state words with the target sound, then we describe what we see in the picture using our target sound.
Still, it can be super nice to have a set of books that target specific speech sounds in your therapy room. Check out the following books for articulation therapy:
P Sound-Loaded Books
B Sound-Loaded Books
T Sound-Loaded Books
D Sound-Loaded Books
K Sound-Loaded Books
G Sound-Loaded Books
F Sound-Loaded Books
TH Sound-Loaded Books
S Sound-Loaded Books
S-Blend Sound-Loaded Books
SH Sound-Loaded Books
CH Sound-Loaded Books
J (DJ) Sound-Loaded Books
R and R Blend Sound-Loaded Books
L and L Blend Sound-Loaded Books
Top Childrens Books for Vocabulary Development
Books can provide engaging ways to target vocabulary knowledge and depth.
Have you checked out the ‘Bear’ series by Karma Wilson? If you haven’t, you absolutely need to!
Karma Wilson is one of my favorite children’s book authors. These are the best books for working on vocabulary development! This is because tier II vocabulary words are included in these engaging books for younger students! Tier II vocabulary words are high-frequency words that are important to target during your speech therapy session. Tier II vocabulary words are not super common in everyday conversations, but are not as specific as content-area vocabulary.
One of the best books in the ‘Bear’ series is Bear Feels Scared, but check out any that you see! Some tier II vocabulary words in “Bear Feels Scared” include “scared”, “huddle”, “tremble”, “quake”, “shiver” and “worry”. Check out this blog post to learn how to target learning new vocabulary in speech therapy.
Another great Karma Wilson book is “Bear Wants More“. Some tier II vocabulary words that a speech therapist could target during a speech and language session might include “ravenous”, “wriggle”, “gobble”, “drowsy”, “gorge”, and “sniff”.
Best Story Retell Children’s Books
Little Blue Truck is a classic book featuring a friendly blue truck and different animals that share in his adventure. In this story, Little Blue takes the time to be a friend to many farm animals and help others out (including a grumpy dump truck). Little kids find the illustrations and rhyming lines enchanting! Repetitive books are fun, as your students can help repeat lines as the story goes on. This book is a fun way to work on narrative sequence and animal sounds!
Tomie DePaola is another children’s author to check out. My favorite is The Knight and The Dragon. This book is really fun for obtaining language samples because although there are words, there are many pages that are illustrations-only and encourage children to talk about the story! The best part about this story is the unlikely best friends that pair up in the end!
P.S. Want to learn how to best assess preschool narrative skills? Some research indicates that interactive conversations with your younger students are the preferred way to do this!
My Favorite Children’s Books for Spatial Concepts
A speech language pathologist will want to try reading “Where’s Spot?” by Eric Hill when targeting spatial concepts. This book is engaging for younger learners working on early language development. The book contains a lift-the-flap component to keep kids interested!
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins is a great book for teaching prepositions to younger children. In this story, a hen goes for a walk while being trailed by a sneaky fox! There are tons of opportunities for discussing spatial vocabulary during a speech therapy session while looking at the pictures in this book!
An additional children’s book that targets spatial concepts (prepositions) using colorful dogs is the classic book Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. And since children of all ages love animals, a good dog book is always a win in speech therapy!
Wordless Picture Books for Speech Therapy
Want to try using some wordless picture books? These provide a perfect way to target all sorts of objectives in articulation and language therapy!
One of my favorite wordless picture books is Chalk by Bill Thompson. Students can help tell the story while looking at the different pictures. Your students can practice using target words in a variety of sentence structures. Try writing a target word, like a conjunction, on a sticky note. Stick it onto a page and see if your student can come up with a sentence to describe the picture using that target word.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney is another fantastic option. It includes beautifully-drawn illustrations. This story tells the tale of a lion who spares a mouse. The mouse then goes on to help free the lion later in the story.
Another wordless picture book series is the Wimmelbooks. There are no words, but each page has a TON of exciting action and characters. Younger students could simply label action words. Older students can follow characters from page to page and tell a story. Check out My Big Wimmelbook: Dinosaurs or My Big Wimmelbook- Cars and Things That Go.
Books for Imitating Actions, Gestures, Sounds, and Exclamations
SLPs know how gesture development is an important precursor to language development! That’s why it’s important to incorporate imitating gestures into your therapy session.
I love the simple illustrations in the Leslie Patricelli board books that are just so engaging for my younger students! These are wonderful, quick books for working on expressive language or a speech disorder. Though advertised as toddler books, my younger preschoolers still loved them! These were wonderful books for my preschool students with special needs. I paired them with gestures and exclamations. Check out the silly book Yummy, Yucky to get started. Your students can imitate a thumbs up, or thumbs down gesture, and practice exclamations like “ewww!”
Hoping to try books written by SLP authors? One great pick is The Big Book of Exclamations, written by Teri Kaminski Peterson and Chris McAllister. Bonus- they’ve also written a part two (Talk with Me! The Big Book of Exclamations 2). Young children will be engaged by this interactive book, and it’s easy to modify language modeling based on a child’s ability.
Dear Zoo is such a great book and another classic! It is sturdy and contains interactive, “lift the flap” features. Work on labeling animals, animal sounds, and other language or imitation skills. This board book will be a favorite for young children.
Top Children’s Speech Therapy Books for Sequencing
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? This is a classic book by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle that a speech therapist might try out in therapy! The unique illustrations and engaging rhythm are very appealing to young children.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a wonderful way to discuss the life cycles of butterflies! The beautiful transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is very enchanting for children to see, and the illustrations are a hit. If you happen to own a felt board, check out these Very Hungry Caterpillar felt board pieces that can be paired with the story. This book provides a great way to work on vocabulary, sequencing, and more!
Another personal favorite is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. In fact, my SLP coworkers and I even dressed up as characters from the Laura Numeroff book series one year at Halloween! This is a classic story that is fun and engaging and can easily be used to address sequencing skills.
The Mitten by Jan Brett is another great children’s book that can be used to target sequence of events! Nicki loses his mitten in the snow, but many grateful animals soon snuggle inside to stay warm.
The Best Interactive Books for Speech Therapy
Are you wanting to use interactive books in speech therapy? My favorite books, both written by Bill Cotter, include Don’t Push the Button! and Don’t Push the Button: A Halloween Treat! These fun books will have your students shaking the book, pushing buttons, and shouting when instructed- and of course, they’ll be giggling the entire time!
Another fun interactive book option that speech language pathologists could recommend that parents try at bedtime is Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson.
Best Children’s Books for Speech Therapy that Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Check out Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper! This is a comforting story about a little boy and his grandpa. The swervy-curvy car ride home and the beautiful text and illustrations will make this story a favorite in your speech therapy room!
The children’s book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is absolutely worth checking out! In this story, a boy and his grandmother take a bus ride after church through a busy city. Along the way, he meets many diverse people. At his final stop, his grandmother encourages him to see the beauty in his surroundings.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold is a wonderful book where children from all backgrounds go to a school that promotes love and inclusion. It promotes being kind to all, despite our differences.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales has the most beautiful illustrations! This is the inspiring true story of the author who immigrated to the United States with her son. They had to be resilent and faced times of confusion and lonliness in a new country. They discovered the public library and an enthusiastic love for books and reading, which allowed them to have hope and finally feel at home.
Best Books for Upper Elementary
In case you missed it, I reviewed my favorite books for upper elementary students in a previous post. In that post, I provided suggestions for how to use books in speech therapy with older students. I also provided a list of my absolute favorite books to use with 4th and 5th graders. Make sure to check it out!
5 Websites with Free Digital Libraries for SLPs and Educators
Although I always prefer a hard copy of a book if possible, it doesn’t hurt to know how to access a digital copy! This is especially important for a busy speech pathologist who travels between buildings.
Here are a list of websites or apps that school SLPs and educators might wish to check out for free digital copies of books:
- Open Library is one possible option for SLPs or other educators (https://openlibrary.org/)
- Project Gutenberg has a library of over 70,000 free e-books! (https://www.gutenberg.org/)
- Check out Storyline Online, which features videos with well-known actors reading stories aloud (https://www.storylineonline.net/)
- Epic! is a must-check out digital library site that is free for educators! (https://www.getepic.com/)
- Check out Bookshare, a federally-funded library of ebooks that is FREE for educators! (https://www.bookshare.org/)
Incorporating Yoga and Children’s Books into Speech Therapy Sessions
Speech pathologists can pair this yoga mat book companion with any book. It’s the perfect way to target story retell and story elements!
First, your student will listen to the story. Then, he will identify the characters, setting, and problem. He will additionally describe events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Finally, your student will explain the solution to the problem and identify any lessons learned from the story.
After each part of the story retell task, your student will complete a yoga pose!
In summary, Speech-Language Pathologists often use children’s books in speech therapy. Books can provide an engaging way to promote language skills, speech sound skills, and literacy. SLPs might wish to target a variety of speech and language objectives using a book during a speech therapy session.
Scroll up to read a list of suggested books sorted by target goal area for speech therapy. Finally, SLPs might wish to access free digital libraries in addition to reading paper copies of the best children’s books.
Speech therapists may also wish to read about the best books for 4th and 5th graders.
Related SLP Articles:
- BEST Books for Speech Therapy: 4th and 5th Grade
- 30 Vocabulary Goals for Speech Therapy (Based on Research)
- 15 Best Speech Therapy Board Games for Younger Students
Related SLP Resource: