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How to Make Shared Book Reading More Engaging in Speech Therapy

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Pink rectangular image. Green text says Word and blue text says Clouds. Black text says pre-reading activity. Image of a white thought bubble. Black Speechie Adventures logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

Hi friends!

Let's talk shared reading! Shared book reading is an activity where the adult uses a wide variety of strategies to increase a child’s engagement with the story and support the child’s language and literacy skills.Strategies often help the child learn new vocabulary, answer questions about the story, and draw connections with the characters and events.

There are a lot of ways we as SLP's can make shared book reading fun and engaging for students, especially those who benefit from frequent redirection, sensory supports, and movement.

Here are 10 ideas for increasing engagement during shared book reading:

1. Readers Theatre - Have students act out the event that occurred on the page you just read. Assign students a character and use costumes or props if you have any relevant ones. This activity can support comprehension, perspective taking, identifying feelings, and provide opportunities to point out story grammar.

2. Felt Stories - Make your own, use your school stipend, ask special education teachers/preschool teachers/TK teachers/kindergarten teachers if they have any you could borrow. They can be super simple - you don't have to be a super artsy person to use felt props!

3. Smash Mats and Picture Icons - These can support comprehension, vocabulary development, story grammar, sequencing, AAC, prepositions, and more! Use play dough or mini objects to cover each image on the smash mat. Attach images to pages in the book using velcro or tacky glue.

(Visuals pictured above are often included in my printable book companions on TPT)

4. Real Objects - Grab a shoe box and fill it up with objects that relate to the story! For example, if you're reading If you give a mouse a cookie, gather a crayon, scissors, pen, tape, straw, glove, mirror, etc. Ask a question about the story that relates to the object and then pull it out for your students to see. Use it as visual support if needed. Let each student hold the object and state how it's used in the story.

5. Story Grammar Icons - Print out story grammar visuals. Laminate them and maybe put them on popsicle sticks. You can use them throughout the story to identify and discuss elements as you read about them. Give one to each student, flip to a page, and prompt students to hold up their element if it's on the page.

6. Act It Out - Act out actions in the story (e.g. The dragons ate tacos! Show me how to eat tacos.). I like using this when students have present progressive -ing and past tense verb goals.

7. Props and Costumes - For example, if you’re reading fairy tale stories then let each student choose one or more props to wear during the story if they wish. Try to make connections between the props or costumes and the story as you read.

A picture of a young child holding a green dinosaur mask to his eyes and wearing a green cape.

8. Sound Effects - Use sound effects for actions or story events like clapping, snapping, or vocalizations. If you play an instrument you can use that too! Play a video clip from this website. You can prompt students with something like, "She feels angry. What does angry sound like?" Maybe in this example you'd rawr or play angry sounding music. These can all be great for enhancing the story's atmosphere and increasing engagement.

9. Use Silly Voices - Have students say repetitive lines in a story in however they think the character's voice would sound, at varying volumes, or in silly voices (e.g. like a witch, in a scary monster voice, etc.).

10. Turning Pages - Let students take turns turning the pages. If they have a motor impairment or disability you can attach things on the pages to help them turn - think small popsicle sticks, pieces of cardboard from food packaging, etc. It doesn't need to be fancy - just find something around your house, classroom, or up-cycle something!

Do you have another fun idea to add to the list? Feel free to leave a comment below for myself and others to see! 😊

Have fun and happy reading! 💛

Three grey mountains with some white snow on to. A small heart in a speech bubble. Four boot prints underneath the mountain. The name Sarah in pink, blue, peach, green, and purple colors.

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