Here on Rock Paper Spirit, we love to welcome contributions from other writers and bloggers. Today we welcome blogger Kim Hogg for this special guest appearance, where she will be sharing which books are her favourites for encouraging speech in toddlers.
My eldest son is 3 and while he is now seen to speak, it hasn’t always been this way. He was over 18 months old before he finally said “mum”, and he was nearly 3 before we could start to have a vaguely sensible conversation with him. I have spent a lot of time working on his speech at home, and have found a variety of activities that work well for him and don’t seem like “work”.
His favourite one is reading books. I have always been a bookworm, so a love for stories is something I am keen to encourage in both my children. I have found repetition is key to encouraging speech, making the words easily recognisable as they have been heard hundreds of times before, and so I tend to read the same 2 or 3 books repeatedly for a few weeks and then move on to the next set.
For us, I have found the best books for encouraging speech in toddlers to be books that rhyme. The slightly rhythmic way they are read, plus the anticipation of the rhyming word at the end of the line means that eventually they feel compelled to say it. After I have read a book a few times (over a couple of days – it doesn’t have to be all at once) I then start to pause towards the end of a sentence, allowing him the space to say the word if he would like. He often doesn’t, and that’s ok, it’s all about giving him the option.
Using that method Piglet can now recite whole chunks of text from his favourite books with no prompting at all. It’s perhaps not as useful as being able to tell me when he would like a drink or what he wants to play with, but it goes a long way in building his confidence in speaking out loud.
We have built up quite a collection of rhyming books over the last 3 years, but these are our favourites:
Never Touch A Dinosaur
This book is doubly fun, as it not only rhymes but also has different textured pages for them to touch too. We used to have the Never Touch A Monster version but it was so well used that it started to fall apart! We got this one at Christmas and it is read most days.
It is on the shorter side, which makes it perfect if you’re just getting started. There’s no need to try and hold their attention for an extended period, and for my dinosaur mad boy the characters are perfect.
Dinos On Deck
Sticking with the dinosaur theme, Dinos On Deck is another favourite. As well as the rhyming pattern, each page comes with a sound to help keep children engaged with the story. Again, it is a shorter story but it is one we read 3 or 4 times in a row regularly.
Hide And Seek Pig
This is one of our all time favourites, and the repetition in the story meant that it was one of the first ones that Piglet started voluntarily speaking in. At one stage I was reading it every night before bed, for around 6 or 7 months. No matter how many times it’s been read the lift the flaps never seem to get boring!
A Squash And A Squeeze
Similar to Hide And Seek Pig, A Squash And A Squeeze follows a similar format per page – that familiarity is key! The inclusion of common farmyard animals always helps, and often sparks other ideas such as singing Old Macdonald Had A Farm. There are quite a few Julia Donaldson books that have the same effect, like the Gruffalo, Zog and Monkey Puzzle.
More recently we have been reading longer books with less repetition, but still following the rhyming patterns that I find so effective. They are no less popular, and now that reading is a habit we are both in to Piglet regularly asks to read Stick Man. Santa does make a little cameo – but that doesn’t stop us reading it all year round.
If you’d like to read more of Kim Hogg’s posts, you can check out her own blog and social channels below.