Best Books to Help Your Toddler With Speech Delay
By Lori Ennis, M.S. Ed.
If your toddler has a speech delay, you’ve most likely found yourself googling, best books to help with toddler speech delay, in hopes of helping your child develop his or her speech. We know that reading makes a difference in the language and vocabulary acquisition of all children.
In fact, a recent study found that reading to our children every day gives them exposure to nearly 1.4 million more words by the time they enter kindergarten as compared to their peers who are not read to consistently. Other studies have found that reading to your children gives a better predicted reading success rates. In his research, Dr. Dominic Massaro found that while talking to your children definitely gives them better vocabulary, reading to them is even more effective.
It’s particularly important to find books to help toddlers with speech delay because reading those to them can go a long way in helping them develop word mastery. Dr. Massaro studies language acquisition and literacy and found that when it comes to looking for books to help toddlers with speech delay, picture books are two to three times as likely to expose your child to new words and pronunciations.
What To Look For In Books To Help Toddlers With Speech Delay
When it comes to finding the best books to help with toddler speech delay, you’ll want to pay attention to several things. Toddlers love details and will scan picture books for things they recognize, are unfamiliar and things about which they are curious. The best books to help toddlers with speech delay will have clear and colorful illustrations and/or drawings. Toddlers love photographic images as well, and love to find the similarities to their own lives in them. It’s important, though, that the illustrations are not too busy and distracting because sometimes they’ll focus more on what they see over what you’re saying. Point out words to describe the images for a better connection.
As well, when looking for the best books to help toddlers with speech delay, remember that toddlers love the neat little facets of books that keep their interest. They love to touch and feel, so books that pop-up or have lift-the-flaps or things that they can rub for sensory input are great to keep them interested and listening.
When it comes to content for books, remember that when choosing books to help toddlers with speech delay, you’re not necessarily looking for big concepts or to teach them something new. There are plenty of great books out there that they’d love and you can read to them that will do that, but when looking for toddler books to help with their speech delay, you want to find books that pay particular attention to every-day vocabulary.
Toddlers love to make connections, so books about animals and environments with which they’re familiar are always winners. As are books about families and friends, food and playthings. When you’re reading, make connections with them; “Yes, you have a raincoat just like the one she is wearing!” Those connections help solidify basic vocabulary concepts as you’re reading.
And while you may find lots of books with tactile opportunities for toddlers, you still may find you’ll want books that will grab and keep their attention. Those books tend to be ones that have rhyming patterns, lots of opportunity for inflection and intonation. Books with alliteration and onomatopoeia are always hits and especially when caregivers have fun in the reading, so don’t shy away from sound effects!
The Best Books to Help with Toddler Speech Delay (Our Favorites!)
There are so many authors and books that we adore to help your toddler’s speech develop, so this is by no means an exhaustive list. We also know that there are tons of books to read to your child, but also some you might want to read for yourself and we’ll throw those in too.
1. My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities To Promote Your Child’s Language Development by Kimberly Scanlon.
This is a great resource for parents and caregivers who believe their toddler may have a speech delay. Scanlon is also the author of Learning To Read Is A Ball, and knows the connection between developing language and reading skills in later school. She gives parents and caregivers fun and practical ways to help facilitate language development and advice parents can use that doesn’t frustrate them or their children. The book also offers various play routines (because children learn best through connected play) that will help develop speech and language skills, and step-by-step directions for caregivers and parents who are first working with toddlers who have speech delays.
2.The Speech Teacher’s Handbook: A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language by Molly Dresner.
Dresner is a Speech-Language Therapist and Feeding therapist who believes that helping your child develop speech and language skills should be fun, whether you have a toddler with speech delay or not. She incorporates fun and functional tips and activities that you can use with your child to boost their language development, and she does so with your child’s daily routines in mind. She offers milestone information and fun activities to help your child meet them, and it’s another great parent reference for working with toddlers who have speech delays.
3. Counting Kisses by Karen Katz.
Author and illustrator Karen Katz uses this delightful book with colorful imagery to engage toddlers as they’re read to by parents, grandparents and caregivers. She uses functional daily words but also adds in vivid adjectives to give your toddler the exposure. It gives repetition in counting kisses, as well as simple sentences you and your toddler can say together and repeat with each other.
4. The Pigeon Has Feelings Too! By Mo Willems.
Iconic children’s author Mo Willems offers toddlers little doses of his famous pigeon in this book that gives children exposure to feeling words as well as the opportunity for listening to and learning appropriate inflection and pragmatic reflection. His books are wildly popular with kids of all ages, but with their very basic wording and engaging images, toddlers with speech delays will feel comfortable listening to and repeating pigeons strong feelings and emotions
5. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff.
We love all of Numeroff’s Circle stories, but have a special place in our hearts for the one where we first met Mouse. Toddlers LOVE the antics of Mouse and the repeated characters with minimal text on the pages make it perfect for allowing your toddler to take in the scenes and the words. There’s lots of opportunity for conversation. “Is Mouse silly? Yes, Mouse is SILLY!” and this collection has not only If You Give A Mouse A Cookie but If You Take A Mouse To School in board book form, perfect for toddlers.
6. That’s Not My Puppy by Fiona Watt.
Any of the Usborne’s “That’s Not My…” series books are perfect books for toddlers with speech delay because they offer so much tactile opportunity. The repeated text is perfect for toddlers to giggle with anticipation over, and to mimic in their own daily routines with practical wording. They introduce basic vocabulary with some enriched adjectives but with minimal phrasing, so toddlers are not overwhelmed as they feel the different features of the puppy. You can’t have enough of these books!
7. First 100 Words Board Book Box Set By Roger Priddy.
This is a must-have set of board books (also makes a GREAT baby shower gift!) for any parent of a toddler but definitely for parents of toddlers with speech delays. His colorful pictures with literally nothing but the object word allow toddlers to hear you say the word and to have an understanding of what they’ve heard (with the help of the picture). This is pivotal to their language acquisition as toddlers with speech delay will learn best by hearing the word and having a connected understanding of the word for reference. We love that they’re real pictures as toddlers will be able to make real-world connections.
8. Hickory Dickory Dock And Other Favorite Nursery Rhymes illustrated by Sanja Rescek.
Books based on classic nursery rhymes with sing-songy tempo are perfect for toddlers, particularly if they show interest in music anyway. The repeated text is a great listening and learning tool for toddlers and the timeless words can be put to music. Sometimes toddlers with speech delays will be able to ‘sing’ or ‘hum’ when they can’t otherwise ‘speak,’ so giving them a repertoire of rhymes with pictures to make a connection is a great way to build vocabulary.
9. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton.
Sandra Boynton’s books are fabulous resources for toddlers with speech delays because they have plenty of repeated text, colorful imagery and fun antics that keep toddlers engaged and participating in the story! Toddlers love dancing and stomping with the barn animals, and that added sensory input as they’re hearing and processing what they hear helps bring the words to them in a more concrete way. We love the verbs she gives toddlers with each animal’s activities and there’s minimal text on the pages for better interest in illustrations while listening.
10. The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood.
Another toddler favorite, it’s especially great for toddlers with speech delay because it uses repeated speech for a connected story from plot to resolution. It has been enhanced with beautiful imagery and attention to detail that toddlers will happily enjoy. There’s plenty of opportunity for authentic conversation with your toddler, “What’s going on here? Where what’s the dog doing? Where’d HE come from?” and it’s a story they’ll want to hear over and over. And that’s exactly what you’re looking to have happen!
These are but just ten of our picks for the best books to help with toddler speech delay. Any book with colorful images, minimal and/or repeated text and authentic conversation opportunity can make a difference and be a best book for toddlers, but the most important thing is the vocal exposure.