Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Books For Language Development: If You Give A....

Today, I'm happy to share a guest post written by Meghan Gallahan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP, one of the authors over at All4mychild.  I love all her ideas! Enjoy! 
“If You Give A…”

As a speech pathologist, reading books with children is a huge part of what I do (and LOVE to do). It is a way for me to connect with the children I work with as well as help them reach any number of speech and language goals. As Becca mentioned in her post on reading books with toddlers, reading with your children is a wonderful way to model, expand, and build your child’s language.

 The “If You Give a…”book series  (e.g., If You Give A Mouse A Cookie; If You Give a Pig A Pancake) is wonderful series of stories by Laura Numeroff that offers many opportunities for language modeling for your child. The stories demonstrate a simple, repetitive “cause-effect” language frame which offers the opportunity to let your child make guesses as to what will happen next (i.e. What do you think the mouse will do next?) as well as the ability to answer/model “why/because" sentence structures (i.e. Why did the mouse need a napkin... because he had a milk mustache!).

What this book series can also do is provide a great avenue for social language skills as well. The illustrations are very vivid and detailed, which offers many opportunities to discuss body language, our all-important communication without words. Help your child “read the body clues:” the characters' facial expressions and what their bodies are telling us. Ask children to describe how characters are feeling and what they are thinking and point out observations such as, “I can tell the mouse is really thirsty-- look at his hands holding his neck and his tongue is hanging out!” This series offers many ideas and activities for children if you are reading individually, or together with other kids. See some ideas below, and enjoy!

Ideas for how to use:
  • Help your child “make a guess” as to what would happen next? If they are having a hard time, help them relate it to themselves. I.e. “What do you want after you drink a glass of milk?
  • Discuss the body language in each story. Ask your child how the mouse/moose/pig etc. feels? Why do you think that?
  • Act out a character on a page; see if your child can “guess” who you are trying to be. Take turns; see if they can make their bodies look like the character. Help them by pointing out their facial expression, where their eyes are looking, how their bodies are positioned, etc. This would be great with a few children too. A “charades like” game for all!
  • Have a couple kids in a group or on a play date? Try the Mouse and Cookie “beep” story. The first child acts as the mouse and does the first “action” (i.e. eat the cookie) then says “beep” and the next kiddo does the next action and gives the mouse a glass of milk and says “beep”, then the next kiddo (or first depending on how many children you have) does the next  action, etc. You can have kids line up in a line to make the sequence easier and more obvious.  Use the book pictures to help children remember by turning the pages for each turn.
  • Have your child make their own “If you” book. Start with a character that could be themselves and an animal. Help them understand the cause/effect sequence of the story. Maybe try “If you give a hamster a cupcake…” or “If you give an elephant a peanut…” etc. Have them make their own illustrations with crayons, markers, construction paper, etc.
  • If you have a couple kiddos have them collaborate and make an “If you” book together. Encourage listening to each other’s ideas, sharing materials, etc.
  • Have a pretend playhouse set and animals? Act out the story with pretend characters. Change up the story and see if your child can “react.” Maybe the boy gives the mouse an apple?
Click here for a link to the many “If you give a ….” Book titles and other books by Laura Numeroff.

For more information on other children’s books and how to use them please visit www.all4mychild.com under Books4all. Coming August 2011 an IOS app to support children’s social skills as well!

Meghan Gallahan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist


  1. I love these books. Thanks for the great tips on how to do more than just read them.

    I'm returning the stumble! Thanks for visiting today.


  2. Great tips! I like using these books very much. Boardmaker has pictures of ALL the elements (almost all) of each book- everyday things like syrup, etc. I usually make picture arrays and 1) distribute individual pictures to kids so that they have to listen for when their items appear in the story 2) then re-order the pictures in a big circle (as all of them are circular narratives) to work on sequencing, association, and sentence formulation.

  3. Sean, I love that idea!! SO fun to collaborate online with other SLPs. :)

  4. Great tips. Stoping by from the stumble hop and gave you a stumble. If you could stop by http://www.twokidsandacoupon.com/2011/07/how-to-save-money-while-dining-out-and.html that would be great.

  5. great tips - thanks for stumbling me, I've stumbled back!

  6. We LOVE the Give A Mouse series! We have several of the books. My daughter still loves to read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, which was the first one she got.

    I stumbled you. Stumble back if you like :-) http://www.mamamommymom.com/2011/07/citrus-lentil-salad.html

    Jamie @ www.mamamommymom.com

  7. Great tips!

    I stumbled you. My post is http://booksyourkidswilllove.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-curse-words-are-non-issue.html

  8. Nice information and its really a good subject to learn more about social language skills.