Repetitive Books: My favourites and how I use them to develop language skills

I LOVE using books in my therapy sessions with kids of any age.  Research suggests that reading to babies as young as 8 months of age can have a significant impact on early language development.  In fact there is a ton of research (too many to list!) that indicate that reading to your child will have a positive impact on their expressive (oral) language development and later their literacy skills.  One MRI study showed that children between the ages of 3 and 5 whose parents read to them on a regular basis had greater activation in areas of the brain that help with narrative comprehension and visual imagery, both key in the development of language and literacy.

Selecting the right book to read to your child, depends on their age, interests, and stage of language development.  If you are the parent of a pre-schooler, you're going to want to avoid:
Factors such as repetitiveness, rhyme, colourful pictures, simple story structure, and interactiveness are positive factors to look for in books when you are reading to young children.

Today I'm going to share with you two of my absolute favourite repetitive books for young preschoolers and language delayed children.

How do repetitive books foster language development?

Repetitive books provide predictable and rhythmic language, both important factors in capturing your child's attention and helping them to remember important words and phrases.  The predictable nature of repetitive books allows the child to grasp the content of the story with greater ease thereby decreasing the cognitive load.  When the child has less to think about, there are more cognitive resources left for them to use language.   Other benefits of repetitive books are:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

By Bill Martin Jr, Illustrations by Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?  I see a red bird looking at me.  Red Bird, Red Bird, What do you see?  I see a yellow duck looking at me.

Why I love it: 

Related Activities

After reading a book, I like to extend the vocabulary from the book to other games or activities in order to give a different type of exposure to the same vocabulary words, thereby helping to consolidate the concepts.  I found a great FREE Brown Bear Brown Bear resource on a website called 1+1+1+1.  There are a ton of resources in this pack, which you can use with children of various language levels and target many different skills such as following directions and matching.  The materials that I laminated and use a lot are the animal cards, and the two piece puzzles but there are other great resources in this pack as well. 

With children who prefer real objects rather than 2D visuals, I try and gather toy versions of the animals in the book (teddy bears, wind-up frogs, rubber ducks etc).  I like to hide each one by putting them in a box, or under a blanket.  I then say the lines of the story again but this time the child gets to pull the animal out of the box and say what they see!  This gives them the opportunity to practice using the vocabulary from the book but with real objects, helping to give more meaning the each animal word. 

If you are working on developing your child's use of 'I see' phrases, you can also download my series of 'I see' interactive books.  There are four books available individually or in a bundle
  1. I See Colours:  colour vocabulary
  2. I see Farm Animals:  Farm Vocabulary
  3. I see Zoo Animals:  Zoo Animal Vocabulary
  4. What do you see in the window?:  Everyday vocabulary words for things children might see out their window!

Dear Zoo

By Rod Campbell

I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet.  They sent me a _____.  He was too ____.  I sent him back.So they sent me a ____.  He was too _____.  I sent him back. 

Why I love it:

Related Activities

Similar to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, I like to reenact the story using real objects.  I put toy zoo animals in small gift boxes and then we say the lines of the story, opening each box as we go and labelling the animal and the adjective! A great way to practice the vocabulary that you are targeting whether it be animal vocabulary, describing vocabulary, or pronouns. 

I recently found a cute Dear Zoo themed 4 piece block puzzle.  I've been using it a lot with the little kiddos on my caseload.  You can use it practice following directions ('Make a lion'), or to just give more practice with the vocabulary/phrases from the book.  

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope that you found this post informative whether you are a parent looking for tips on how to read to your children or an SLP looking for new ideas about how to target language goals using books.  I'd love to hear from you about your favourite repetitive books!  I'm always looking for suggestions to grow my book collection :) 

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