Many parents, teachers, and speech-language pathologists have developed effective techniques for supporting storybook reading for children who use AAC, and we can learn from their successes.
In the following clip, watch as Dana reads a book with her daughter, Maya. Dana ensures her daughter has fun, and also supports Maya’s language and communication development.
As you can see, Dana is providing many positive supports to enhance Maya’s learning.
First, it is clear that Dana is reading a book of interest to Maya. As Dana reads the book, listen to how she conveys her love of reading by using an animated and engaging voice. She points out some of things she especially enjoys about the story, and laughs about some of the pictures. She does a wonderful job demonstrating the enjoyment that she finds in reading a good book.
Dana also makes sure that Maya has a way to participate in the interaction. She models the use of Maya’s AAC technology as she reads; she shows Maya how she can locate vocabulary on her AAC device to communicate.
As Dana reads the story, she also provides opportunities for Maya to participate. For example, Dana begins a sentence, and then waits and provides an opportunity for Maya to finish the sentence (e.g., “grocery store”) using her AAC device.
Dana also recognizes and responds to all the means that Maya uses to communicate. She responds to Maya’s speech approximations (e.g., “na-na” for banana), and then shows her how to find the vocabulary on her device to clarify her meaning.
Dana also shows Maya how to think about the story and how to build comprehension. She asks Maya questions (“Do you think she is going to pay?”) to show how active readers read books with questions in mind.
Most importantly, Dana makes sure that storybook reading is an enjoyable experience – she responds to Maya’s interest in the book, and provides lots of opportunities for participation.
In summary, Dana demonstrates the following 5 steps to ensure the effectiveness of her storybook reading with her daughter:
- Select a good book
- Provide adaptations to support the learner’s participation
- Introduce the topic and teach new vocabulary
- Read the story and provide opportunities for participation
- Ask questions and encourage the learner to become the storyteller
In this web module, we will describe this 5-step process in more detail to help you learn how to provide rich storybook interactions for children, like Maya, who use AAC. You can use this checklist to follow along and to help you plan effective storybook reading with your children.