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.
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.
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.
My greatest problem is with the plot.
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
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.
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.
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.