Books for Speech Therapy

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Caps for Sale.  One could say that this blog post would merely provide great ideas for using books for speech therapy.  I must now come clean and admit that I knew the problems this would cause in our office.  

Apparently, there are strong opinions about the use of this book.  Who knew?  (I did!)  So, here is the first grudge match of this spring.

 Scott “Seriously” Prath

Not all books are perfect for speech therapy. Unfortunately this includes many of our childhood favorites. We have been writing a lot about what makes a book good for intervention, and I thought it would be illustrative to take a look at why a book isn’t.

I know I am going to catch flack for this blog post as soon as it hits the press because there are a lot of people who love Caps for Sale. I will even go as far as to point out that Caps for Sale received 11,155 5-star ratings on Good Reads  and only 285 1-star ratings. I am definitely in the minority.
Even among SLPs such as the Kolanko sisters (yes, two sisters who are both SLPs, the only fact that is stranger than this post or this book) there is a huge fan base for this book.

Let me get my personal opinion out of the way and then I will move on to a more analytical way to ascertain the therapeutic useLESSness of a book.  Put your seat belt on!

This review sums it up perfectly.

“This book seemed hard to get through, there was just not enough to keep me focused or to make me want to know what was going happen next. The story seemed very bland and did not have much excitement. The monkeys were the most exciting part of it and they still seemed boring. The images were nice but I felt the color choice was not the best. The orange and green color just makes it seem drab and worn.”

The “monkeys still seemed boring” !! I love it– Boring Monkeys!!!! How much effort do you have to (not) put into a book to draw boring monkeys?  Boring Monkeys.

“The orange and green color just makes it seem drab and worn.”
 How much effort do you (not) have to put into painting to make colors seem drab? Was there a shortage on Crayola?

My greatest problem is with the plot.

Books for Speech Therapy

Humm, a man is walking through town and is selling hats – okay so far. He has them piled a mile high on his head – okay, quirky but a bit funny. Oh, no! He’s tired. Hats sure are heavy. Time for a nap! Let’s pass out on the ground.  Oh no, Monkeys descend from a tree! Boring monkeys don’t forget, in the middle of Romania, in the middle of the 19th century, in the cold autumn. Oh, and they are trained to imitate humans just in case you were worried that there weren’t enough holes in the plot. If you haven’t read it yet don’t worry, I won’t ruin the ending for you, it ruins itself.

Why a book may not work for children with impairments:
Interest – Color – Plot             My vote? F[divider]

Emmy “Enigmatic” Kolanko

Books for Speech Therapy

Most great books for use in speech therapy are simple in nature. They hook the listener with their easy-to-follow, entertaining story lines and fun, quirky illustrations.

Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras is one such book that allows children with speech and language impairments to practice their targets in countless ways while also enjoying their time with you.
 The benefits of using Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras extend beyond the attentive, entranced state your students will be in while listening to this silly story of a hat seller who encounters a troupe of boisterous, mischievous monkeys. Caps for Sale/Se Venden Corras is closely aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Such applications include identifying story grammar elements (setting, characters, problem and solution), sequencing events, making predictions, and answering WH-questions. Your students will enjoy practicing velar sounds (‘caps/gorras’), producing multisyllabic words (‘vendedor’), conjugating regular and irregular past tense verbs, and identifying and using adjectives (colors and prints of the hats).

A simple plot means an easy way to learn story structure

It’s true what the critics say: Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras does not have a complex plot. But that is precisely why it is so useful to SLPs. Our job is to scaffold teaching, and one way to do that is by using accessible texts. We know that language-impaired students best learn more rigorous concepts, such as sequencing and making predictions, with simple stories. Our intervention provides them with the opportunity to master difficult concepts and work up to performing tasks independently. Once they are successful with simple texts such as Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras, they will then be able to engage with more rigorous, complex materials in therapy and in the classroom.

Opportunities for  multi-modal learning

We also know that great literacy-based intervention allows students to interact with books in creative, multisensory ways. For every question answered and for every target sound produced while reading Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras, give your students a cut-out monkey and a ‘cap/gorra’ to glue onto a popsicle stick man. It’s one of the simplest art activities that I’ve ever done with kids, but they absolutely love seeing their stack of caps grow taller and taller and they can’t wait for their turn to collect another monkey! When they’ve finished, re-enact the story using the stick man and monkeys. Then, have your students create alternate endings to the story.

Highly imaginative

For those students who are ready for an extra challenge, ask them to imagine that they are going to sell hats or another product at school or in their neighborhood, and provide them with art supplies to design their own fun and funky styles. Take advantage of the resources on our website for literacy-based intervention, and give your students their own story sequencing graphic organizers to draw pictures and write sentences about their make-believe adventure selling a product. Ask them, What would it be? Who would buy it? How much would it cost? Where would they sell it? Why would people want to buy it? Caps for Sale/Se Venden Gorras also pairs well with intervention that focuses on language concepts used in math, such as counting and addition.

Simply put, the benefits of using Caps for Sale in therapy are endless. Books for speech therapy!!!  I give this book a 5-star rating. I hope you join the other 11,155 readers out there and become a fan.

My vote: A+

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