Top 10 Children's Book List that Stimulate Speech & Language Skills

Ever wonder why experts are always encouraging parents to read to their little ones?

What does it have to do with speech & language development?


Reading is an easy and effective way to help your child understand and use language. Using language helps them express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings to communicate with others.


What better way to introduce higher order concepts and stimulate communication than through books?!


Check out The Speech & Language Centers of Excellence’s Top 10 Books that support the development of a child’s speech & language skills:


1. “Are you my mother?” By: P.D. Eastman

Who: Ages: 3+

What:  This is a story about a hatching bird who searches for his mother after she flies off to find food for her baby.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Asking “WH” questions (who, what, where, when, why) is a perfect way to stimulate your child’s language skills with this book! As the little baby bird goes on a long journey to find his mother, he comes across several animals and asks the famous question: “Are you my mother?!” Ask your child questions to stimulate thinking and language expression; i.e. “Who did the baby bird come to?” “Why is the dog NOT his mother?” “Where do you think the baby bird will go next?” “What happened here?”, and “How is the baby bird feeling?” Use lots of emotion to peak interest. Encourage them to answer in full sentences through modeling (answer yourself). If your child is too young to respond to open-ended questions, give your child two answer choices to choose from.


2. “No, David!” By: David Shannon


Who: Ages: 3+

What: “No, David!” is a book about a little mischievous, yet explorative child named David who continuously gets into trouble, but at the end, he is reminded that he is still loved despite the trouble he gets into.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Although there aren’t a variety of words in the book itself other than the words “No, David!”, this book fosters imagination with its large images and is relatable to most children who go through every-day life exploring the environment around them. Children come across problems every day, and are still learning how to handle them with various solutions. One way to help them develop this skill is to facilitate problem-solving questions by asking “what’s the problem here?” and “what could David do to fix this problem?”


3. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” By: Eric Carle

Who: Ages 12 months +

What: The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a well-known classic, that is loved by children for its “automatic speech tasks” and its repetition of words. Automatic speech is “composed of or containing words or phrases, such as numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, or greetings, that are overlearned or spoken rotely” (Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition, 2009). As the caterpillar takes you on his journey of becoming a butterfly, he comes across various foods that introduces the concept of counting, and the days of the week. 

Speech & Language tip:

  • Automatic speech tasks are known to activate the language cortex in the brain. Some ideas you can use for engaging your child when reading this book is helping the child point to the pictures and counting together out loud. You can also repeat the days of the week out loud together with your child. In addition to ‘automatic speech tasks’, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great way to introduce sequencing skills to your child. As the book takes you through a butterfly’s stages of life, you can include “sequencing” words such as “First”, “Next”, “Then” and “Finally/Last”. This helps the child understand that there is an order to certain parts of life, as well as helps him develop pre-literacy skills when reading or writing stories in a properly sequenced manner.


4. Boom Chicka Boom Boom! By: Bill Martin Jr.

Who: Ages 3+

What: Boom Chicka Boom Boom is a book about the letters of the alphabet that climb up a coconut tree, causing the tree to bend so much that all the letters fall off the tree. The book then goes on to describe each letter’s injury in alphabetical order.

Speech & Language tip:

This book is a bit hit with young kiddos! It involves identifying both uppercase and lowercase letters, while also reinforcing rhyming skills. Rhyming is important in the development of speech and language skills because it is a precursor to learning how to read. It also reinforces literacy skills by exposing the young child to uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. For this book, I recommend parents to emphasize the rhyming words and then ask the child to think of words that rhyme with that word. For example, tell your child you’re going to say a word (i.e. “tree”). Ask him to say another word that “sounds almost the same” or has the same ending. Provide examples as necessary to help give your child some ideas initially.


5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by: Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle

Who: Ages: 2+

What: This book is a classic for toddlers. While there is no actual plot to the story, the book is repetitive in asking “what do you see?” and then goes on to feature various animals and their colors.

Speech & Language tip:

  • This book is designed to help little ones associate colors and meanings to objects. From a speech and language perspective, children learn exceptionally well through repetition and associations. When asking your child “what do you see?” before turning to the next page of the book, have him predict what the next animal and color will be. Have your child associate the various animals with either air, land, or sea. For example, you can ask “does a bird fly in the air? Or swim in the sea?” etc.


6. Goodnight Moon by: Margaret Wise-Brown 

Who: Ages 2+

What: Goodnight Moon is a bedtime story for toddlers that features a bunny rabbit saying “goodnight” to the moon and many other objects in his room.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Goodnight moon is a book that has several “prepositional words” that become important for language acquisition and following directions later in life. Some prepositions seen in the book are words such as “over” and “on”. Have your child point to various objects and state where they are located using prepositional words. For a very young child, give him choices. For example: “Are the kittens on the rug? Or under the rug?” Prepositions become important later in life when teachers expect their students to follow basic directions such as “Put your worksheet on your desk” or “Place your pencil in your backpack”. Some other prepositional words to introduce to your child while reading together: Over, Under, Above, Below, In, Out, On, off, through, between, across, toward, away, beside,


7. Press Here! By: Herve Tullet

Who: Ages 3+

What: This book is fun, hands-on, and interactive for everyone! Simply put, it goes through simple directives that the child is asked to follow.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Press Here!” is perfect for teaching young children how to follow directions. Help your child understand the directives by actively demonstrating the directional tasks. For example, if it says “tilt the book to the left”, you would follow accordingly. Again, an important skill to acquire before its time for your child to participate in daily school activities!


8. Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice by: Julia Cook

Who: Ages 5+

What: This book is about a girl named Isabella who realizes that she talks loudly, and goes on to learn to soften her voice. It is named “Decibella” after the word “Decibel” which, in scientific terms, is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound.

Speech & Language tip:

  • This is the perfect book for our voice kiddos! We’ve all been there—when our children or students speak too loudly and we teach them about using their “inside and outside voices” appropriately.


9. Dear Zoo by: Rod Campbell

Who: Ages 3+

What: This book is about a child who wrote a letter to the zoo to send him a pet. Each time the zoo sends him an animal, there’s a problem, as it’s not as pet-friendly as he thought it would be.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Dear Zoo is a great way to introduce “WH” questions and build a child’s vocabulary repertoire. You can ask a child various “WH” questions (who, what, where, when, why) such as “Why does the boy want to send the giraffe back to the zoo?”. This book touches on some great adjectives for children such as “tall”, “fierce”, “grumpy”, etc. You can even play a game of “opposites” and think of antonyms (opposite words) for these adjectives!


10. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by: Simms Taback

Who: Ages 3+

What: This is an eye-popping, edge-of-your-seat kind of book for children! It follows a sequence of events in which the old lady swallows a fly and then makes matters worse by swallowing other larger animals and insects.

Speech & Language tip:

  • Using this book to teach sequencing skills is a perfect way to introduce the concept of “order” for children! Sequencing is an important skill to have for academic reading, writing, and oral conversations, since we know that without speaking or writing in a structured order will have us confused. A tip to use with your kids when reading this book is asking them what the old lady swallowed first? Second? Third? Next? Finally/Last? Talk about what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.



The Speech & Language Centers of Excellence is an organization designed to help children and adults with speech & language impairments by giving them the best possible tools in order to speak well, learn well, and live well. 


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