Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Apraxia Therapy Materials: The Big Book of Exclamations

Book Review: The Big Book of Exclamations

This is a review of The Big Book of Exclamations by Teri K. Peterson with illustrations by Chris McAllister. The author is a Speech Language Pathologist and designed the book as a combination of a tutorial to teach parents how to use a picture book to elicit utterances from their young children and a picture book designed to appeal to young children.

Target audience.

I'd say this book would be most appropriate for children between the ages of 12 months and 3 years of age. There are always exceptions where the book might be appropriate for older children. The book is designed to be used by a parent and child together and to leave the parent with some skills that they can then apply to reading other picture books with their children. The book is particularly useful for "late talkers" and children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech becuase it is designed to teach short phrases to children and provide many opportunites to practice those phrases in a fun context.

How to use The Big Book of Exclamations

This book is meant to be "read" with your child. I put the word "read" in quotes because the book is not a storybook with a typical story. It is designed to be interactive. It is designed to teach you how to use a picture book to prompt speech, and lots of it, from your child. The Big Book of Exclamations teaches you to interact with a child and a book the same way I was taught to do it as a Speech-Language 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. The activity is about the two of you enjoying the book, pictures, and conversation. It is 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, if your child can't say "bottle", change it to "ba ba." You want to model the exclamations yourself and then pause to let your child participate too. Encourage their participation. Enjoy it. Play with the exclamations and the pictures. Laugh at the silly things they see in the pictures and the silly things your child gets to say. Have fun telling the dog, No, no!" over and over again.

What is inside the Big Book of Exclamations?

This book is dense. Each two-page spread if full of tons of things to talk to your child about. The pictures and concepts covered in the book are perfect for an emergent talker. The illustrations are complex and beautifully done. You can see a sample page at the book's website. The book begins with two two-page spreads on how to use the book. 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 about your child's speech development.

Our experience using The Big Book of Exclamations

We used this book with Ava when she was just starting to verbalize. When we got the book she wasn't even imitating reliably. She was engaged as soon as I pulled out the book and we spent several minutes just talking about the cover. The book worked exactly as intended. We spent half an hour or so on the first three two-page spreads. She did get antsy after the first couple. It is not like a storybook that holds their attention because they like the story itself. It is 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 another day.

Even though the book is a bit expensive at $20, I feel the price is worth it for the experience. You can get hours of entertaining speech practice out of this book if used properly.

I do have one small criticism though. This book is designed 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. I believe the book can also be purchased through the book's website.

Bottom line: Highly recommended.

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