How to Adapt a Book to Support Language Development

Books have long been considered an avenue for enhancing language development. Books provide children a way to learn more vocabulary, explore new things and enhance their literacy development. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Books by themselves are great therapeutic activities, however, at times more interaction is required to help children with speech and language disorders engage with the stories they are listening to. By adapting a book, you are providing a child with additional ways to interact with the story, words and language within its pages. Greater interaction will ultimately lead to increased comprehension and improved language development (Delsandro, 2013).

How to Adapt a Book:

There is no correct way to adapt a book, in fact, books can often be adapted several different ways. Once you have a book that you would like to adapt, you need to decide which aspect of the story you want make more “interactive” or which element you would like to emphasize/highlight. Ways to adapt a bookBrown Bear can be to highlight repetitive text, simplify text or use a carrier phrase (e.g., “I want the ______” or “She has the ______”) (Delsandro, 2013). For example, in the picture to the right, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle was adapted to highlight the repetitive concepts of color (adjective) + animal (noun).

The computer software, Boardmaker, was used to select pictures to represent each item. The pictures were then laminated, with Velcro placed both on the back of the pictures and then in the book. Depending on the child’s skill level and therapeutic goals, the pictures can be used in a variety of ways. When reading, the child needs to find the corresponding color and animal for each page. Or before reading, the child needs to separate the pictures into colors versus animals to target categories. Or the child needs to name each animal or color, using the pictures as reinforcement of the vocabulary…the options for activities are endless.

Ultimately, any child would benefit from and enjoy reading an adapted book. It makes reading more fun! However, there are some children who may benefit more than others. Adapted books would be a great therapeutic tool to use with children with limited receptive or expressive language who have goals to improve their vocabulary or sentence structure. Additionally, children who are working towards increasing their verbal output are ideal clients to use with adapted books, as these activities are supportive and predictable (Delsandro, 2013). Adaptive books are not just therapeutic tools, but could act as great carryover activities to the child’s home environment.

Click here for your   Articulation Checklist
Delsandro, Elizabeth. “Adapted Books.” [PowerPoint]. University of Iowa. Wendell Johnson Speech & Hearing Center, Iowa City, IA. The China Project 2013. Lecture.

everyday items for language play

How to Use Everyday Items for Language Play




When you walk into your child’s therapy clinic, you see toys, games, slides, swings, bubbles, scooters….I could go on forever. There’s always an endless supply of things to keep children entertained, motivated, and mostly, to make sure they’re having fun while working towards their therapy goals. However, you don’t need fancy toys or equipment to work on speech and language! Purchasing and using toys as therapy tools can be costly, overwhelming, and even intimidating for many families. However, there are a multitude of items you can find in your own home that will work great for speech and language home practice. And the best part, these are things you most likely already have so the cost is minimal or even nonexistent!

Home Tools for Speech and Language Practice:


What can I do with them?
Make them into a sock puppet or even a snake.
How can I use them for therapy?

  • Identify body parts
  • Pretend play
  • Feed the puppet; label food items you feed the puppet and verbs such as “eat” and “chew”
  • Conversational turn-taking skills

Bubble Wrap

What can I do with it?
Pop it!
How can I use it for therapy?

  • Verbalize “Pop!”
  • Have your child request “more”.  Allow him to pop a few and then hold the bubble wrap; either say or sign “more”.
  • Focus on size concepts; “These are big bubbles! This one is small.”

Toilet Paper/Paper Towel Roll

What can I do with it?
Leave it as is or decorate it!
How can I use it for therapy?

  • Play “I spy” to label common objects around the house.
  • Use it as a microphone for imitation. For example, say a word or phrase into the “microphone”, then have your child try it!
  • Make binoculars and use them to follow simple directions with location concepts. For example, “Find the ball under the table.”


What can I do with it?
Get creative! Make it into a play house, mailbox, oven, etc!
How can I use it for therapy?

  • Work on basic concepts such as “in, out, on, off”
  • Hide objects under or in it; “Where did the ball go? Find the ball!”
  • Place item in the box, don’t let your child see it, and have them guess what it is by feeling and describing the item.

Milk Jug

What can I do with it?

  • Cut it to make it into a scoop
  • Make it into a shaker

How can I use it for therapy?

  • Scoop up/pour out various items; label verbs like “scoop, pour, fall” and concepts such as “full, empty”
  • Sing nursery rhymes and use the milk jug as an instrument; stop at various point throughout the song and have your child fill in the words. For example, “Row, row, row, your ____”
  • Fill it up with water, pour it out or water plants in the garden. Work on concepts like “in/out”, “full/empty”, “heavy/light”.

Markers/Crayons and Paper

What can I do with it?
How can I use it for therapy?

  • Identification of body parts; draw a head and have your child label all the body parts you need.
  • Practice speech sounds; make dots ( “dot, dot, dot”), squiggles (“sssss”), dashes, etc. Pair any mark you make with a sound.
  • Make cards for family members. Talk about concepts/location of items. “Put the heart at the top of the page!”

This is just a tiny sample of items you can find in your home that can be used for therapy. There are endless possibilities. Remember all those old bridesmaid dresses you’ll absolutely never wear again? Hello, dress-up and pretend play! Get creative and have fun!

Click here for 5 fun and easy ways to promotes speech language in the warm weather!