Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review – The Big Book of Exclamations

Quick Disclaimer – I bought this book myself from Amazon and am not being compensated in any way for this review.

This is a review of The Big Book of Exclamations by Teri K. Peterson with illustrations by Chris McAllister. I found this book because it is one of the first books to come up when you do a search for “apraxia” at This book is not a parent resource in the way that The Late Talker was.

This book is meant to be “read” with your child. I put the word “read” in quotes, because the book is not a storybook. It is designed to teach you how to use a picture book to prompt speech, and lots of it, from your child. This teaches you to interact with a child and a book the same way I was taught to do it as a speech-pathologist during a therapy session. You can then apply the same concepts to any other picture books you are reading with your child. The idea is to spend five or ten minutes (or even longer) on each two-page spread. You don’t need to read the entire book in one sitting. It’s about the two of you enjoying the book, pictures, and conversation. It’s about your child having fun talking about the book. Literally – talking about the book. How often does your child get to do that? You can easily adjust the difficulty level up or down just by modifying what you say from two words at a time to one word at a time. Or from a word like “baby” changed to “be be”. You want to model the exclamations yourself and then pause to let your child participate too. Encourage it. Play with it. Laugh at the silly things the characters are doing and the silly things your child gets to say. Have fun telling the dog, “no no” over and over again.

Why then, did I buy the book if I already know how to interact with a child and a book in this way? Well, because this book is dense. Each two-page spread is crammed full of tons on things to talk to your child about. The pictures and concepts covered are perfect for an emergent talker. I wanted the pictures. They’re great.

Let’s talk about them in more detail. First, you can see a sample page here at the book’s website. Ok. The book begins with two two-page spreads on how to use the book. However, the true beauty of the book emerges in the following six two-page spreads.

  • Wake Up! Good Morning! This scene has a mommy and daddy entering a nursery with a toddler aged boy and toddler aged girl to wake them up in the morning. There’s a pet dog and cat in the scene along with lots of nursery toys including cars, blocks, planes, and farm animals. The pictures have captions in key areas prompting you (the parent) to use key words like, “Hi, baby”, “beep, beep”, “uh-oh,” and “no no”.
  • Eat! Eat! This scene is of the family getting ready for breakfast. You have the mama, daddy, children and pets again and now you add a grandma. Again, there is lots going on here. You have all the items typically present in a kitchen, some playground equipment out a window, fruit on the counter, and much more. Captions include, “hot, hot”, “all done”, please”, and “dirty”.
  • Ready to Go! This scene shows the family in the foyer getting ready to go out. All of the previously introduced family members are present and now we add grandpa. In addition to the typical things you’d see in such a scene like a door, stroller, stairway, side table, phone, pictures in frames you have lots of action. Captions include, “bye, bye”, “wait, wait”, Dada help”, and “run, run”.
  • The Park! This scene shows the entire family at the playground. You have a slide, swing, bubbles, people playing ball and Frisbee, and even a birthday party going on in the background. Captions include, “swing, swing”, “up up up”, “pop pop pop”, and “weeeeee”.
  • Bath Time! Wash! Wash! This scene shows the mama and daddy giving the children a bubble bath. It’s a great bathroom scene. Captions include, “oh, oh, duckie”, “owie, “no bite”, “pop”, and “sh- sh- shhh”.
  • Bedtime – Goodnight This scene shows the entire extended family again in the nursery getting the children ready for bed. You’ve got a bedtime story, dim lights and the moon shining in through the window. Captions include, “shhhh- papa stay”, “stop”, “look, my book”, and “ni ni dada”.
  • The final page is a picture of the family waving good-bye to the readers and the page opposite is full of captions about being all done and wanting to read again.

At the end of the book the author includes two additional two-page informational spreads. The first is about typical language development and the second is about what to do if you have concerns.

When I tried it with Ava she loved it. She was engaged by the picture on the cover of the book and we spent several minutes just talking about the cover. The book worked exactly as described. We spent a half hour or so on the first three two-page spreads. She did get antsy after the first couple of pages. It’s not like a storybook that hold their attention because they like the story itself. It’s more of an interactive activity. I would plan on using the book for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. It would certainly be worth it even if you were only using it 5-10 minutes at a time. Pick it up, talk about a couple of pages and then put it away and save the next set of pages for the next day.

I hesitated to buy this book because I thought $20 was a bit steep given that I already know how to read this way with my children. The content is definitely worth the price of admission though. I’ll use this book happily with Ava as often as she’s interested. I would also use it in therapy sessions with any child in the 12 month – 2 ½ year age range and perhaps even with children older than that where appropriate.

I have one small criticism though. This is a book meant to be read with a very young child cuddled in your lap engaging with the book. Yet it is a hardback book with paper pages and is rather large and unwieldy. Also, some of the illustrations disappear into the binding. I found it a little difficult and uncomfortable to hold when reading it with Ava. I wish the book were available in a ¾-size board book form. I would actually pay $5 or $10 additional dollars to get the book in that format and consider it an investment.

This book was not available through my local library system. I’ll admit that I did not check out local bookstores. Amazon does however, carry the book and so you can find it there for sure if you are interested.

Bottom line: Highly recommended.


  1. We have this book and our son loves it! We also have the CD from Apraxia kids and my son really enjoys it. The music is slowed down a bit and is easier to understand than most children's CDs. Great review!

  2. What kinds of songs are on the apraxia kids CD? And how many? Do you thing the difference between these songs and the more typical versions is big enough to recommend the purchase to other moms?

    And thanks for the compliment on the review! I thought the book deserved a positive, detailed review.

  3. They are the typical children's songs Wheels on the Bus, Heads Knees and Tummy. My son has always loved music, but he really took to this disc the first time I played it. The songs are not so slow that they are dull, they are just slower. My son was able to make hand signs with the Wheels on the Bus song which he did not do with other discs. I found it on the Apraxia Kids web page. Yes I would recommend it, but you should review it for a second opinion.

  4. I LOVE the Big Book of Exclamations! I work in Birth to Three and find this to be a very useful book in teaching parents about how to just have conversations with a book and how to encourage simple imitation. I think the illustrations are adorable. I highly recommend this book to anyone with little children or who work with young children. Yes, it is not a board book and that would be nice to have, but it is meant to be a book that a child "reads" with a parent, so the paper pages are OK with me.
    Rachel Arntson
    Talk It Rock It


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