When Jake was 30 months old and we started speech therapy with SLP #2, she suggested we read repetitive books. Jake did not have an apraxia diagnosis at that time and during speech therapy she would read him Brown Bear and they would do a craft. The entire time, she would encourage him to speak, pausing at specific points in the story to see if he would chime in. But, he never did. He’d just smile that sweet smile of his and let her do all the talking.
I’ve always read Jake a lot of books. Not so much because reading young children books fosters an early love of reading, but mainly because he enjoys it. My other two boys were not like this. If they sat still through one story, they were doing good. Jake, on the other hand, can’t get enough. If I have the energy to keep reading, he’ll keep listening contently with his thumb planted cozily in his mouth.
I understand the concept of repetitive books. An article written by a SLP on the CASANA website states:
In the treatment of CAS, it is generally understood that frequent practice of sounds and words helps to improve speech (Velleman, 2005) and reduce some of the pressures associated with expressive language. Repetitive books contain various characteristics that can be part of an effective treatment strategy for children diagnosed with CAS — predictability, presence of carrier phrases, frequent practice of target sounds, familiar inflection, and an introduction to phonemic awareness.
Yes, I get it. It makes perfect sense. But after I spent a summer reading Brown Bear literally every single day with not even the slightest utterance from Lil’ Man, I decided reading repetitive books weren’t our thing. In September, Jake turned three and officially got diagnosed with apraxia. A third SLP would follow before we found #4 who would finally get us on track. As he started growing into his three-year-old little self, he finally started to say words and even started to communicate with us.
In the meantime, I kept reading my boy his favorite stories with the predictable characters: Thomas the Train, Max and Ruby, and Mickey Mouse. One day when I was getting tired of reading the same books over and over, I went into my eight-year-old’s room and raided his bookshelf. I found The Gingerbread Man. The pictures weren’t that great, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. There are many different versions of this story out there and this is the one that’s in our home library …
Jake fell in love with this story. When I was finished reading it, he wanted to read it again. The next day at nap, again. At bedtime, again. And so on. Each time, I would point to the repetitive words in the book as I would read them. “Run! Run! Fast as you can! You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man!” and “No! No! I won’t come back! I’d rather run than be your snack!”
After a few days of reading, I noticed he was trying to say these parts in the book with me. So, I took his lead and paused at certain places within the story to see if he would fill in the blank. Much to my surprise, he did. The words don’t always come out right, but the approximation and melody are definitely there.
He wasn’t able to do this when he was 2 1/2 because he couldn’t. He had a five word vocabulary at that time. If he couldn’t say “mama,” how was he going to able to recite parts of a book? Now that his speech has matured, however, repetitive books are a good supplement to therapy.
He also enjoys Are you My Mother? and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. We even dusted off Brown Bear and I started seeing cooperation from that book as well. I’ve looked at repetitive book lists and also want to try We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Little Red Hen.
Do you have any other repetitive books that your little one likes? I’d love to hear your suggestions.