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Visit the Library to Connect Literacy, Language, and Speech this Summer

Literacy is intimately entwined with speech and language, as discussed by Elizabeth Perry, M.S., CCC-SLP in a previous post about this topic. Adding to what Elizabeth stated earlier, reading is language. The difference is that it is decontextualized language (the speaker and listener don’t directly share in the language experience and the reader must create the context from the written word). Therefore, a student who has difficulties with reading likely also demonstrates difficulties with story narration in spoken language.

Reading also involves speech, in that in order to read a word, the student must know all the sounds of the word and translate those sounds into symbols, and then combine those sounds to form one word or a string of words in a sentence. If a student has difficulties hearing and producing correct sounds, this may translate into incorrect spelling and reading. For example, if a student produces “r” like “w,” that student may spell words with “r” in them as “w” (e.g. “wing” for “ring”). If a student cannot spell a word correctly, it would also be challenging to read that word. In addition, if a student has difficulty hearing and producing correct sounds (phonics), as well as reading and spelling correct words, the student will have difficulty understanding and remembering what was read.

Reading, speech, and language are all connected and so it is often helpful to use a dynamic approach in therapy, depending on the child, with different language and speech modalities to improve language understanding and use, as well as speech. (Owens, p. 356)

So, how can you help your child connect speech, language, and literacy this summer?  Here are a few ideas!

  1. Put a visit to your local library into your weekly routine. Creating  a routine that involves going to the library, selecting books, reading books, checking out books, reading those books at home, and returning the books the following week emphasizes the joy of books and reading for pleasure and enjoyment.
  2. Create a scavenger hunt. Put together a simple checklist of topics or keywords to look for together during your library visit.  It can be as simple as looking out for a designated letter of the day in book titles and signage or as complex as using the catalogue system to look for specific topics or authors.  If your children are not-yet readers, create a picture scavenger hunt.
  3. Expose your children to a wide range of books. Children tend to gravitate towards things that they know.  If the only type of books they have seen at the library are picture books, take a trip around the library and look for different types of books.  Find the section of non-fiction children’s book and find a book about insects and spiders.  Locate the cookbook section and find a cookbook with great pictures of something you might want to make as a family. Go to the young adult section and find appropriate manga that might be fun for your children.  Find the travel section and peruse a few books with great photos on a favorite vacation spot.
  4. Re-read favorite books. When your children check out books that they enjoy, read and re-read those books throughout the week.  Although repetitious reading of the same book can get monotonous for adults, it is vital for children to connect letters with sounds, understand the content, and generalize ideas into daily life.  Repetition also supports prediction and anticipation for story elements.


Other resources

Reading Rockets – a good resource for reading lists and ideas to get young children reading

International Literacy Association – great booklists and downloadable brochures for parents

Reading is Fundamental – great activities and articles for parents



Owens, Robert, E. (2008). Language Development, 7th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.


By Robin Costa, MS, MA, CF-SLP