A Little About Me and This Blog

I have been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) since 1987. I am a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association. I have worked in the states of New York, Hawaii and Florida. I am currently in New York State. I have worked in settings that include public schools, special education preschools, hospitals, adult day treatment programs, home health rehabilitation, early intervention and preschool homebased therapy. I have provided evaluation and therapy to people ranging in age from 6 months to 100 years. I have worked with a wide range of conditions and treatments including fluency, aphasia, apraxia, voice disorders, dysphagia, cleft palate, hearing impairment, articulation delay, language delay, augmentative/alternative communication, autism, and many others through the years.
The purpose of this Blog is to share information and answer questions that you may have. I will strive to provide the correct information to the best of my professional knowledge. I may not share the same professional opinion as other licensed speech pathologists and I encourage second opinions if you want to be as informed as possible.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reading With Your Child

     I once went to a home where there were two preschool children.  I was there to work with the two year old who was not speaking yet.  The baby would later need services, but I was initially there to help the older boy.  It was at this home that I got a true understanding of the fact that some people are simply not aware of what should be done with children to ensure that they reach developmental milestones of speaking, language, motor skills, feeding etc.  While chatting with the parent and giving ideas of how she can use books with the child in ways other than just reading the stories, she said "We don't have any books for the kids."  I asked if that was because of how expensive they were, because I would be glad to leave some with her.  She answered, "No, we didn't get them any because they can't read yet." This was a very eye opening moment for me.  After this, I knew I would always be sure families of infants and toddlers had books and knew ways to use the books to encourage many skills to develop. The following is just a short list of things that can be learned through books before children learn to actually read the books and some of them are learned even before they are able to speak:
 1.  Visually attending to 2 dimensional pictures as opposed to 3 dimentional objects.
 2.  Isolated pointing with a finger as they touch pictures that are interesting to them or that are named.
 3.  Social time with parent as they spend time with a book.
 4.  Increasing length of attention to an activity.
 5.  Learning labels for pictures which increases receptive vocabulary.
 6.  Learning about things that they can not experience and gaining vocabulary.
 7.  Fine motor skills of opening flaps or turning pages.
 8.  Cognitive skill development as concepts are labeled. For example: "Big dog."
 9.   Develops book orientation, learning how pictures should face and left to right page turning.
10.  Increased listening skills.
11.  Ability to make noises and words that correspond with pictures.
12.  Imitates actions seen in pictures.
13.  Labels pictures or retells words heard in story.
14.  Begins to pretend to read orally.
15.  Begins to anticipate pages or parts of stories.
16.  Following directions such as "Turn the page." of "Point to ___."

     This list of benefits is based on the fact that a parent is using the books with the child.  If the books are available to the children, but not used with them, they will not get any of these same benefits, because there will be no one modeling the words or proper book use.  Babies will not naturally learn what to do with a book without the added interaction of an adult.  They will likely look at them on their own as well, but it can't be stressed enough, how important it is to make it an activity that is also together. 

     Using books with a child does not mean the same thing a reading stories to them.  All children are at different levels of understanding and with different attention spans.   The youngest children will do well with the sturdy cardboard books with bright pictures.  A few large pictures per page make it interesting for them to look at, easy for you to label for them and easy for them to know what you are referring to.  Say "Apple" as you point to the apple.  The babies will soon start imitating the pointing.  Later, you can ask questions such as "Where's the apple?" and they will point.

     As children get older, use books with one sentence per page that refers to the picture.  You can use the sentences and then add to it yourself by looking at the pictures and talking about them in more detail.  For example, if the short poem "Twinkle, twinkle, little star"  is on one page, you can read the poem, and then talk about the picture.  Say things like "I see 5 stars...1-2-3-4-5."  "Stars are up in the sky." 

     Read with your child every day.  Show excitement for reading.  Be enthusiastic and very animated with reading.  Be a great storyteller and it will keep your child's attention. Make it part of the naptime and bedtime routine.  Other times of the day are great too as long as it is a relaxed atmosphere.  Let the child choose the books, let them help hold the book and turn the pages. Let your child point to pictures and talk about things. Let you child fill in the last word of a sentence in a familiar story. There are many ways to use books, be creative. 

     Never worry about the fact that you didn't "Read" the story to them.  It is not the completion of the written words on the pages that matters.  It is the time with you and the time with books that will make the difference.

     Books are expensive, but I encourage everyone to purchase a few.  In addition, I think it is extremely important to introduce young children to the public libraries.  Depending on your area, libraries are now offering many activities for infants and toddlers.  It becomes a nice routine to go once each week to read books there and to bring new ones home.  Attend any story time activities that are offered.  This prepares children for the large group setting of a classroom to listen to stories and enjoy books/stories  told by others.

     It is also good also for your children to see you reading.  Reading the newspaper, magazines and your own books will show children that reading is fun and since they like to copy their parents, they will probably go and get one of their books when they see you reading!  Read with your older children as well.  When they begin to read chapter books on their own, take turns reading the chapters.  At night, even older children enjoy the time you will spend with them reading to them. They will always remember this time with you too.  Have fun and read every day with your child!


  1. I love books... I love reading.. we have always had a lot of books around the house and have read with the kids... one thing we have also done is we read aloud.. even now that they are all teenagers.. we will read a book together.. taking turns reading out loud... or if we are reading our own things.. we will share parts of them.. sometimes people are surprised at how interactive reading can be.

  2. The Books are very informative and it is a great idea to improve the language speech therapy in children. I will purchase these books for my kids.

  3. I enjoyed this post very much. I hear professionals and parents say, "If your child's having trouble learning to read, then read to him." (As a way of teaching reading). I'm glad to see that you didn't take that route here. Direct instruction in reading (phonics, word families, prefixes/suffixes, etc.) is what many children (aged 5 to 8) need when they are struggling with learning to read. I'd love for you to listen to my radio show I did on teaching young children to read. Let me know if you get the chance. www.blogtalkradio.com/superbtherapy Great post! I'm going to print this one out and have it handy. I will also subscribe. Please check out my blog as, well: www.superbtherapy.blogspot.com From: Noelle Michaels, CCC-SLP, LDT-C Bilingual Speech and Learning Specialist, Denville, NJ 07834 201-919-4805 (noellemichaels@hotmail.com)


  4. nice this blog.
    You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. I’m looking to reading your next post.