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Literature-Based Speech Therapy

Literature Based Speech Therapy by Super Power Speech

 My favorite way to do Speech Therapy is to to make it literature-based. Why? It just makes sense to me! I’ve complied my reasons to consider doing Speech/Language Therapy based on books:

1. End goal of accessing curriculum:

My students are eligible for services because their Communication interferes with their education. So my job is to improve communication with education as the ultimate goal. There are two great ways to do this: work directly with the curriculum being taught in the classroom, or work on skills similar (but often easier) than those taught in the classroom. Since many teachers are slow to respond to my requests for new vocabulary and concepts, I usually have to abandon that plan. Similar skills almost always relate to reading (my district enforces 90+ minutes of reading instruction daily). Since most of my students are poor readers, I can help with reading comprehension by doing literacy units.

2. It makes life easier for me:

There are so many layers to a good book, so it can be broken down and taught to many different levels. I can use one book for almost all of my speech therapy groups. For K-2nd grades, I use more basic vocabulary in the book, basic concepts and prepositions, describing characters or pictures, and easy grammatical forms of regular plurals and irregular past tense. For 3rd-5th grades, I can step up the vocabulary, add in irregular grammar, idioms (if in the book), and perspective taking. For ALL students, we can work on story retelling and sequencing. Do you have groups with both language and articulation students mixed? I do. As long at the artic students are at the word level, just use words from the book and you can all work on the same concepts. No separate activities for each student to keep track of (I hate that!).

3. It is so flexible:

Not only can I use the same book for many different levels and ages of students, but I can extend one book for an entire month.  And then sometimes I can re-use the exact same book the next year, with the same students, and they still enjoy it and learn something new! A sample lesson plan for a 2nd grade student with grammar and vocabulary goals could be:

  • Session 1: Read half of the story. Discuss the illustrations. Predict what will happen in the next part of the story. Learn 5+ new vocabulary words.
  • Session 2: Review previous vocabulary words. Quickly retell the first half of the story. Finish reading the story. Learn 3+ new vocabulary words.
  • Session 3: Review all new vocabulary words. Learn more words if needed. Fill out the vocabulary sheet with several of the important vocabulary words.
  • Session 4: Work on grammar goals within the context of the story (e.g. regular/irregular past). Play a matching game with either vocabulary cards or grammar cards.
  • Session 5: Review grammar cards and replay matching game. Do grammar worksheet together orally. Send grammar worksheet home for extra practice.
  • Session 6: Do character describing activity by brainstorming and then writing down adjectives for main characters. Begin story comprehension questions.
  • Session 7: Continue story comprehension questions. Play a board game and flip over a question before each turn. Answer the questions together as a group of individually.
  • Session 8: Sequence the story with pictures. Create the story map together as a group. Practice retelling together as a group.
  • Session 9: Individual story retells for data collection and progress monitoring.

4. I love great picture books and I want my students to as well:

Sometimes the best way to instill a love of reading to a child is to do it over and over and over. Even if those students are not strong readers themselves, they can learn to love books read to them and learn to comprehend the books through activities and picture explanations. And what is the best way to improve vocabulary? Reading of course!

Because I love doing Literacy-based speech therapy I have been posting about it for years. In the last few months, I have started putting considerable time (read: hours and hours and hours) into making high quality literacy-based speech therapy units that you can easily use with students 1st-5th (and sometimes K) and selling them on Teachers Pay Teachers. Why sell them? Well, I know that I can throw something together and make a lesson out of it, but I’ve realized that others (including my assistants) need more specific lessons to help guide them. It has been a lot easier to justify to my kids why I am glued to my computer if I tell them I’m hoping to earn enough to buy a family Christmas gift.



This Thanksgiving long weekend, I have worked very hard on creating two new units based on The Mitten and The Hat (both by Jan Brett). Like a picture walk through a great illustrated book, I’m going to do a picture walk through my new units. Please consider supporting my efforts and buying.  If you are not ready to buy, that’s okay. Click on “Download Preview” and you will get a freebie that you can use right away from the unit.

UPDATE: Completely revised! Go and download the new and VERY improved version of this book companion here!!

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My daughter and I made a video explaining how to set up and use the PreK file folder activity here.

This entire unit can be purchased here. You are going to LOVE it!!!!

Want another winter-themed Jan Brett book companion? Check out “The Hat“!

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This entire unit can be purchased here!


Check out ALL of the Literature-Based Speech Therapy units I have for sale here!! Warning: it is a lot because I use a lot of books in therapy!

Book Unit Products by Super Power Speech

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  1. I love your idea of literature therapy. I’ve been trying to do the same this year since I switched schools and are working with kids who have retelling goals. Can you post some of the goals you write to go along with literature therapy? Many of my kids have retelling goals and they are doing great. I’m wondering what should be next?!

  2. I LOVE this CC. Two of my favorite books too! I’m going to go share on FB now!

  3. Great ideas! Gong to add these to my TPT wish list for cyber Monday! My district this year decided to really get strict on eligibility guidelines and that to qualify education has to be impacted. After reading your comment on that I am curious if you find that not too many articulation kids qualify. Most I screen seem to have single sound errors (R, or S) and this does not impact educational functioning. I am turning several away this year. Is your caseload mainly language? Thanks again for your hard work on these activities!

  4. wow, you’ve created some wonderful materials. These look terrific and these are stories that are almost always used in the schools at some point, so kiddos may already have some familiarity with them. Love it!

  5. @Mallory: I wish I had some great goals. Writing goals is not my forte. They are fine… but nothing special. I try to make them generic enough so that if they move (which they often do), the next SLP can pick up where I left off without difficulty… I HATE getting a new student with goals that I feel I cannot work on without their specific materials.

    I usually write something about retelling (including characters, vocabulary, main events, sequencing) with 75% accuracy and then measure progress using my story retell rubric. Sometimes I write a goal for grammar as measured by the story retell as well (correctly use irregular verbs within a story retell so that it is more of a measurement of skills in context and not in isolated grammar activities).

  6. @Jenni: My district is not being strict about that YET, but this year I am trying those one sound kids on RTI instead of putting them on IEPs. If they still need a lot of work by the end of the year, I’ll probably put them on IEPs.

  7. @CC thanks so much for answering my question! I’m wondering how much you should expect in a retell according to grades. For example for kindergarten would you just expect the kids to name characters and sequence pictures etc… Maybe 2nd would need to retell in sequence using names, setting, no pictures?

  8. Great post! I tend to try to cram a little bit of everything into a session or two, and the way you draw it out really makes sense. Not only can you go into more depth about everything, it saves planning time/stress! I also love that you can do a pre/post test. Thanks for posting this!

  9. @Mallory, I “tested” my own children on this last year. My daughter was K and my son 3rd grade. They are both typically developing. They listened to a story with no visuals (which I never actually do for my students… I always have pictures for them). They BOTH were able to retell the story with details and character names and several vocab words. So, your students’ objectives is going to totally depend on their current level. If they are almost at typically developing levels, then pull out all the supports! If not, then give them as many supports as they’ll need within the objective.

    Hope that helps!

  10. I know that there is research to support literature based language therapy, but has any one heard of any CEU options on this type of intervention?

    I would love a little more instruction on how to present the material, take data ect. I love this type of therapy and would like more information on how to be the most effective with my therapy sessions:)

  11. I love these! I am a CF this year and trying to build my library of books and actually purchased The Mitten and The Hat after seeing your lessons. So thank you!!!!

  12. Thank you for this unit. I purchased “The Mitten” to try out and my students love it. I will definitely purchase more units. Please keep up the great work!

  13. I also love the idea of literature based units but have struggled with how to get data related to outcomes while using narratives. I love your idea of pre/post tests and will buy these units just to have that prepared for me. Thank you so much! This is the first time I have ever posted something. I am so excited to have found your site!

  14. Krista Keleher says:

    I love the sample lesson plan! Thanks!

  15. Helen Wagner says:

    Wow! I have done activities from Artic and Lit for years, but you have taken it to a higher level! Love your activities!

  16. Karen Hosier says:

    I love these! This year I have decided to use literature based therapy with my preschool groups. It is such a great way to work on literacy as well as incorporate a number of speech and language skills into my lessons. Thank you for these great resources!

  17. Thank you for sharing your literature-based units. Once I started planning therapy this way, I realized that the students were more engaged and I was able to incorporate vocabulary into my sessions more easily. Thank you again!

  18. I LOVE your book companion packs! I used to use books for therapy all the time in grad school and it was wonderful! I don’t know why I stopped using books, but I am getting back into using them again and it’s making planning SO much easier 🙂

  19. erin wodzinski says:

    This is exactly what I have been doing in therapy! I’m trying to come up with books from the modules my teachers are working on and create language activities to go with the books. I have also been working with my school O.T. to create art projects or crafts to go along with the books. It is a lot of work but so worth it!

  20. Elizabeth Padilla Rios says:

    Thank you for sharing your website and wonderful and thought out ideas with us. I also appreciate working on speech goals by using literacy as the foundation to all skills in order to help the students’ achieve their speech goals. Your printables, games, and different skills embedded in your packets have been extremely helpful in my planning.

    Thank you.

    Elizabeth, NYC

  21. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this literacy based unit of study with the world. I am a 2nd year SLP and have been going crazy trying to come up with a plan to systematically meet all the goals of my students. I have spent 4 hours today only going through your plan and a couple of your lesson plans to see how I could tailor this program to all of my students. I have figured out a way to use this same format with both fiction and nonfiction text as well as early to late elementary students.

    Thank you again!! As you have answered my prayers and lowed my daily frustration level


  22. Just found you on Pintrest! your passion for literacy and language shines through. Sounds like I do similar therapy to you. I typically see students 6-8 times per month and can plan a book unit with 8 lessons over a weekend and then be ready to go for the next month. It’s just a matter of pulling together supplies or tweaking a lessons slightly for a specific group. One think I do for all ages, is a pre-reading activity to connect the topic to prior knowledge. This may be a web, video clip, power point, or something as simple as a Google image to brainstorm about. For younger students I include 1-2 lessons targeting phonemic awareness which requires no materials (since it’s all auditory) or minimal materials like a bean bag or small ball for turn-taking. target skills: identifying rhymes; generating rhymes; syllable counting; syllable blending; identifying words in sentences; onset-rime blending; phoneme segmenting/blending/deleting/substitutions; auditory memory for related words; auditory memory for unrelated words; and scrambled sentences. For older students, I may spend lessons with graphic organizers developing character traits, elaborating and developing setting (using lots of visualization, descriptive adjectives, rich vocabulary, sensory language), Problem/solution, cause/effect, inferring, and theme. This relates so much to the curriculum in 3rd – 5th grade. Student’s LOVE book units, can’t wait until the next book, go to the library to find the book and check it out for themselves, enjoy learning about authors and other books written by these authors. Some of my author units for this year will be Laura Numeroff-PK-K (If you give a mouse, …cat…dog…moose…etc.), Jamie Lee Curtis1-2nd(Today I feel silly, my brave year of firsts, Big Words…), and fractured fairy tales for 4th-5th grade.

  23. Alicia W. says:

    I love all your ideas, especially the breakdown of the lessons! I have a question, do you pre-teach the vocabulary from the story? If so, how do you facilitate this?

    1. No, I do not pre-teach the vocabulary. I go through it as we come across each word in the book.

  24. Thank you so much for giving an example of how to structure your literacy across sessions. I was wondering how to approach that part of using books. Very insightful. Thanks!

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