What Makes Great Books for Speech Therapy?

Books for Speech Therapy Many SLPs love books and we tend to gravitate to our same favorite books year after year.  If it is not obvious by our numerous essays on narration, we are big fans of literacy-based intervention and use storybooks as tools for evaluation and treatment.  

But why do we choose the books we choose?  Why some but not all?
We recently had the “barefoot librarian” from Barefoot Books pay us a visit at one of our staff meetings. She brought us boxes of bilingual books, and asked our opinions of them.  We immediately tore into these boxes, searching for our next favorite books for speech therapy.  How did we do this? We scoured the books for language concepts, opportunities for practice of specific sounds, sequencing, wh- questions, inferencing, etc.  This seemed “normal” to us, but she was intrigued with how we determine what was valuable.

As it turns out, as SLPs we look at books VERY differently (and are often much more picky) than educators, authors, librarians, and parents.  Working with bilingual children, the anty is upped even more because the resources are limited. This got us all thinking about what makes a book seem “good” to our SLP brains.

Key criteria that are important in selecting successful books for speech therapy

  1. Ample opportunities for the child to participate
  2. The ability to work on specific goals in the context of the book
  3. A structure that enables easier story-telling

One of the best ways to increase a child’s participation (without relying on his or her ability to demonstrate reading fluency and comprehension), is to select a book that has repetition and predictability.  Predictable books have been a hot topic with educators, librarians, and literacy coaches for many years, and for good reasons.

Predictable books make use of rhyme, repetition of words, phrases, sentences and refrains, and such patterns as cumulative structure, repeated scenes, familiar cultural sequences, interlocking structure and turn-around plots. These stories invite children to make predictions or guesses about words, phrases, sentences, events and characters that could come next in the story. — Mary Jett Simpson, in Reading Resource Book, 1986.

Predictable books allow early readers to predict what the sentences are going to say, thereby increasing enjoyment and helping to build vocabulary and memory skills (Education Oasis).

Note that predictable books are more easy to identify with books written for younger children.  We often see more overlap of characteristics in different types of predictable books in stories written for older children, as they contain more story elements.

Types of Predictable Books

There are eight different types of predictable books. We can use these eight groups to categorize the books we read and get a better understanding of what each book has to offer.   These predictable categories enable us to better define WHY our favorite books for speech therapy are successful, thus helping identify new titles for future sessions.  Click on the story type below to jump to an explanation and examples in English and Spanish.  Find them in your library or clicking on the image will take you to Amazon.com.

Story Type




Chain or Circular Story

The plot is interlinked so that the ending leads back to the beginning.

Where the Wild Things Are Books for Speech Therapy
Donde viven los monstruos Books for Speech Therapy


Cumulative Story

Each time a new event occurs, all previous person, places, things, and events in the story are repeated.

The Gingerbread Man Books for Speech Therapy
El hombre de pan de jengibre Books for Speech Therapy


Familiar Sequence

Organized by a recognizable theme (days of the week, months of the year, numbers, etc.).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Books for Speech Therapy
La oruga muy hambrienta Books for Speech Therapy


Pattern Stories

The scenes or events are repeated with some variation.

Froggy Gets Dressed Books for Speech Therapy
Froggy se viste Books for Speech Therapy


Question and Answer

The same or similar questions are repeated throughout the story.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Books for Speech Therapy
Oso pardo, Oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahi? Books for Speech Therapy


Repetition of Phrase

Word order in a phrase or sentence is repeated.

Goodnight Moon Books for Speech Therapy
Buenas noches, luna Books for Speech Therapy



Rhyming words, refrains, or patterns are used throughout the story.

I Went Walking Books for Speech Therapy
Salí de paseo Books for Speech Therapy



Familiar songs with predictable elements such as repetitive phrases, sentences, rhymes, or refrains.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Books for Speech Therapy
Cinco monitos brincando en la cama Books for Speech Therapy

Great Resources for Predictable Books

What style of predictable book is your favorite?  

I don’t know about you, but reading this and understanding WHY and HOW I choose books for speech therapy makes me REALLY excited! I immediately began to Google “Predictable Books” and found a ton of resources and book list upon book list.  Of course, all the book lists were books in English, so I “Googled” “Predictable Books Spanish”….  Crickets.

Books for Speech Therapy I found some links, but not anything like the lists of English predictable books.  Most of them were books that you can reduplicate and write in words, but not complete narrative structures and definitely nothing that fell into the eight types of Predictable Books.  So we decided to create our own!  Click below to check it out.

Searching for Predictable Books

Addtionally, here are some awesome resources on predictable books with English suggestions  that you can use with your English-speaking kiddos.   We wrote a whole new essay on it :  Predictable Books.  Enjoy!




Scholastic This is a site focused on Predictable books.-Search for books by reading level, DRA, grade level equivalent, or Guided Reading level (A-Z-Includes type of Predictable Book-Tells genre of book-Book summaries-Short clip of text from book-Themes/Subjects in the book (cooking, seasons)-Free teaching resources to go along with the book-Includes info about the author English only-Scholastic has a great bilingual book list, but without all the information as the English books-No definition of types of predictable books
Kaplan Early Learning Company Provides a list of bilingual books-Provides the guided reading level Only 9 books are listed- Does not provide information on the type of book, theme or genre
Nellie Edge Provides a list of popular predictable books in English Does not provide information on the type of book, theme or genre
Education Oasis -Provides definition of predictable books-Provides a list of predictable books by type English only-Does not link to an option to purchase books
Charlotte Mason Approach with Penny Gardner Provides a list of predictable books English only- Does not provide information on the type of book, theme or genre-Includes some links to purchase books through Amazon
Educational Resource Center Provides definition of predictable books-Provides a list of books by author, including the type of predictable book English only-Difficult to navigate unless you know the exact author you are searching for
Good Reads Provides a list of predictable books English only- Does not provide information on the type of book, theme or genre
University of Wisconsin Polk Library Provides a list of books by author, including the type of predictable book-Can get a Google “preview” of the inside of the book-After clicking through a few links, you can eventually get to a place to purchase a copy English only-Does not include reading level, concepts to target-Books link to the university library only; no option to purchase
Loudoun County Public Library Provides a list of predictable books by type English only- Books link to the library only; no option to purchase

Written by: Scott Prath

2 Comments on “What Makes Great Books for Speech Therapy?”

  1. June 11, 2019 at 9:43 am #

    Can’t find your list of recommended wordless picture books?

    • June 14, 2019 at 2:22 pm #

      Hi Chawn,
      Rather than reinventing the wheel, Reading Rockets has a really comprehensive list of super cool wordless picture books:

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