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Reading Together: Tips for Parents of Children with Speech and Language Problems

By: Reach Out and Read
Children with speech and language problems may have trouble sharing their thoughts with words or gestures. They may also have a hard time saying words clearly and understanding spoken or written language. Reading to your child and having her name objects in a book or read aloud to you can strengthen her speech and language skills.

Infants and toddlers

Helping your child love books

You'll find sharing books together is a great way to bond with your son or daughter and help your child's development at the same time. Give your child a great gift that will last for life — the love of books.

Children with speech and language problems may have trouble sharing their thoughts with words or gestures. They may also have a hard time saying words clearly and understanding spoken or written language. Reading to your child and having her name objects in a book orread aloud to you can strengthen her speech and language skills.

Tips for reading with your infant or toddler

Each time you read to your child, you are helping her brain to develop. So read to your child every day. Choose books that you think your child will enjoy and will be fun for you to read.

Since younger children have short attention spans, try reading for a few minutes at a time at first. Then build up the time you read together. Your child will soon see reading timeas fun time!

Here are some things you can try:

  • Read the same story again and again. The repetition will help her learn language.
  • Choose books with rhymes or songs. Clap along to the rhythm and help your child clap along. As your child develops, ask her to fill in words. ("Twinkle twinkle little star. How I wonder what you ____.")
  • Point to pictures and talk about them. ("Look at the silly monkey!") You can also ask your child to point to certain pictures. ("Where's the cat?")
  • Talk about events in your child's life that relate to the story. ("That bear has blue pajamas just like you do!")
  • Ask your child questions about the story. ("Is that bunny hiding?") As your child

Suggested books for your infant or toddler

Preschool and school-age children

Helping your preschooler or school-age child love books

When you read to your child often and combine reading time with cuddle and play time, your child will link books with fun times together. So continue to read to your child every day. Choose books that are on your child's language level and that your child likes.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Discuss the story with your child. ("Why do you think the monkey stole the key?")
  • Help your child become aware of letter sounds. (While pointing to a picture of a snake, ask: "What sound does a snake make?") As your child develops, ask more complex questions. (While pointing to a picture of a ball, ask: "What sound does 'ball' start with?")
  • Play sound games with your child. List words that rhyme ("ball," "tall") or start with the same sound ("mommy," "mix").

Suggested books for your preschooler or school-age child

Funny or silly books are a good choice for this age group. Some titles include:

Books to help children and parents learn more about speech and language problems

For children

For parents

For more information

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CVS CaremarkReach Out and Read
Developmental Disabilities Literacy Promotion Guide for Pediatric Healthcare Providers. ©2010 Reach Out and Read, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Comments

Readers may be interested to watch my 16 minute documentary about children with speech disorders. It was produced in the 1980s, but the issues remain the same – and much more needs to be done. “Speaking Out – children with speech disorders”, can now be freely viewed on my YouTube channel at EyesEars.com: http://youtu.be/Ou8JFvWhxIM

Wow! I love this article! As a speech-language pathologist, I can vouch for the importance of reading with your child. I would say it is the single most important thing you can do to improve your child's speech and language skills. Also, it's never too early to start! That's why I love that this article has a section on infants and toddlers, too. Thank you for this wonderful resource!Carrie Clarkwww.SpeechAndLanguageKids.com

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss