Targeting Speech and Language Goals through Book Read Alouds

One of the best and easiest ways to practice your child’s speech and language skills are to read with them. By talking about the story or asking questions about what you read, you can practice and reinforce many important language skills.

Articulation/Speech Sounds: 

  • Pick 1 or 2 sounds your child is working on to target while reading a book. They can read to you and you can both listen for correct or incorrect productions of their sounds. If you are reading to them, listen for their correct or incorrect sound productions in their responses to questions or discussion about the book. If they make a mistake, have them correct the sounds. You could prompt them by saying the following: Oh I heard Tan I have a tard, let’s try can and card again with your good /k/ sound. Another prompt could be: Is it tan or can?
  • You can also look for words with their sounds in them while you are reading. When you come across one, model it for them and see if they can say it correctly. For younger students, this is a great activity to improve their ability to recognize letters and produce their sounds, also known as letter-sound correspondence.

Language Skills:

  • Talk about the characters in the story.
    • Questions to ask: What makes them a good character, what makes them a bad character, what will the character do next, would you like to meet this character, what character are you most/least like, why or why not? etc.
  • Talk about the setting of the story.
    • Questions to ask: Would you like to visit that place, why or why not, have you ever seen __, what do you like/not like about the setting, etc.
  • Talk about the sequence of events.
  • Talk about the problem/conflict in the story.
  • Make predictions about the story.
  • Talk about new vocabulary your child doesn’t know.

Social Skills:

  • Talk about the characters’ feelings throughout the story. Look at how they changed based on different events or situations. Talk about whether they expressed their feelings appropriately or inappropriately.
  • Talk about character traits in the story.
    • Questions to ask: would you want to be friends with this character, why or why not, what do you like/dislike about them, etc.

Grammar Skills:

  • It might be easiest to read the book completely first. Then go back to look at the different grammar structures you can find in the book.
    • Verb Tenses: See if you can find examples of future, present, and past tense sentences.
      • Present tense: The princess is walking through the forest. Past tense: The evil queen sent her away. Future tense: The princess will find a friend to help her.
    • Possessives: Look through the story for examples of possessives. The princess’ crown, The queen’s mirror, her friend, etc.
    • Plurals: Look through the story for examples of plurals. The horses, the mice, the slippers, etc.

Fluency:

  • If your child stutters and has learned some strategies to produce more fluent speech, you could try to practice these strategies while they read the book. An easy one to practice is using slower speech. When your child is reading, have them use a pacing board by pointing to each circle while reading each word. Just practice using slower, more relaxed speech while reading. You can print pacing boards by searching the web or make one at home by drawing 5 or 6 shapes or using stickers on a piece of paper.

Examples of questions you can ask during the story:

Before you read the book you can ask:

  • What do you think the book will be about?
  • What do you think the book will be about based on the title?
  • Based on the cover artwork, what do you think the story will be about?
  • What do you already know about the topic? (Have you ever seen a horse, been to a farm, gone camping, etc.)

During the story you can ask:

  • Who are the people/characters in the story?
  • What is the setting of the story? Or Where does the story take place? 
  • What is the problem/conflict in the story? 
  • How do you think the characters could solve the problem/conflict?
  • Why did the character do that?
  • What would you do in this situation?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • How do the characters feel on this page?
  • Why did the illustrator draw the artwork this way on this page?
  • If you were in the story, what would you hear, taste, see, or smell right now? 

After reading the book you can ask:

  • Did you like the book? Why or why not?
  • What was your favorite part of the book? Why?
  • What character did you like the most? Why?
  • What character are you most like? Why? 
  • What character are you least like? Why?
  • What surprised you the most in the book? 
  • If this story had a sequel, what would it be about?
  • What do you think the author’s message is? What is the big idea from this book?
  • Do you have any questions for the author of the book?
  • Tell me the story in your own words.

Don’t feel like you have to do everything suggested here during one book reading. That would be a lot. The main goal is to make sure they understood the story and to help them think a little deeper about it. Happy Reading!

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