As you know Aidan’s first big flag that there was an issue was the fact that by the age of 2 and a half he had still no speech or understanding. He didn’t know what cat was or understand anything we were saying to him. At this point, we didn’t know that he was hyperlexic so we didn’t realise how important books and text would become in his language development.
I thought I would put together a list of books that we found the most helpful. These are the books that we would have used when Aidan had no attention span as well as severe speech and language impediment so they are the ‘back to basics’ type of ideas.
These books are great. They are written using simple sentences, bright coloured pictures and lots of textured elements to help engage the child. If your child is very sensory they will either love or hate the touch and feel elements of the stories. Aidan refused to touch any of the pages but he loved (and still loves) the stories. Obviously, they come in many different characters so we chose some of Aidan’s favourite animals to attract his attention – at the time it was puppies and ducks I think. We also got that’s not my elf for him last Christmas which he has no interest in but this year I think he will love it when I get the Christmas stuff down.
They start from around €5 on the Book Depository
If you’ve followed me since the beginning of this year, when Aidan found his voice you will have seen me rave about these books. Again, last Christmas I got Aidan the ‘My First Words on the Farm’ book because of his love for animals. By the 3rd week of January, he could point out all the animals when asked and tell you their sounds and not too long after he learned all their names. All speech therapists will tell you to avoid first words books because a child should learn from hearing you talk and not single words but Aidan’s hyperlexia meant that he would probably never have learned to speak without seeing the written form of words first.
Peep Inside/ Interactive Books
Are you starting to notice a trend here with animal books? I think the most important thing to remember is that if your child is not interested in the topic then they are not going to give it the time of day so sticking to their interests is key. Like the ‘That’s not my…’ series these are interactive books where you lift the flaps or spin the wheels to reveal different elements. Aidan had so much energy that he didn’t know how to control he often found these books where he could lift flaps and touch different parts kept his hands busy enough to focus for short periods of time. We also got Busy Pets and Busy Santa which are part of another series of interactive books.
Starting from around €6 on the Book Depository
This book is fab if you have kids that love ‘people games’ or more specifically being tickled. I think this is still one of Aidan’s all-time favourite books. It uses simple, rhyming sentences and ends each page with the opportunity to tickle the child – so great for keeping them engaged. It is the illustrated by the well known Alex Scheffler who has done other greats like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. His work is a definite favourite among kids (and adults alike).
If books are new to your child or if they are really not into them then maybe getting a book that has their favourite character or movie (maybe even one with sound buttons?) might be a good way to start. It will capture their attention and slowly over time they may become interested in turning the pages and eventually the story too. Luckily there are books with all sorts of characters available so you can get ones with very short simple stories for starting out and build them up over time.
About me book
(Ok 6 books but this one is a DIY ‘book’). When we were doing the Hanen ‘More than Words’ speech and language course the section on books came up and our therapist was explaining why some kids with a speech delay have no interest in books. She said ‘Imagine me bringing in a photo album of all my family pictures and telling you all about it. Now imagine me bringing in one of your family and friends and going through it – which one interests you more?’. And it’s true often when we are not familiar with something it can get boring quite quickly but things that we are familiar with or enjoy will keep our attention longer. Basically, an ‘about me’ book is just that, a book all about the child it is written for. I will do a separate post about Aidan’s ‘about me’ book but originally it consisted of maybe 6 pages each with an image and one simple sentence. My name is Aidan. This is my Mommy. This is my Daddy. All the basics to start off and then as he got used to it we added more pages to include likes, dislikes, his school and more.
So there is a list of the type of books we found helpful in building Aidan’s speech. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have for books that you have tried and loved with your little people.
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