'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 15 October 2012

Speechie's Couch: When Speech Explodes

So the house is toddler-proofed—more or less—and now comes the most exciting months of all ... language development! when tottering, nappy-wearing wonders explode with vocabulary and try it all out on you.

This is when lots of syllables tumble out in a tangle and sometimes sound closer to Martian than human even though one and two word combinations are quite intelligible.

Children’s minds are now language sponges, but they no longer want to learn one word at a time. They are hungry for the power of little sentences and ready to giggle at the sheer joy of different sounding words. Stories with rhythm will have them up and romping around the room. So, what sort of books do you choose now? It needs to be something your young reader can help you with.

Books with a bit of onomatopoeia are now perfect, as are nursery rhymes and books with repetitive phrases, but don’t forget anything with a touch of humour, anticipation or adventure.

Stephanie Owen Reeder’s Dance Like a Pirate is a perfect example of a book that invites participation, as are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Where Is the Green Sheep?

Oh Dear and Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell are also winners, as is anything that lets tiny voices chime in at the anticipated time.

A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Peach Pear Plum by Allen Ahlberg are also perfect, but not because of their rhyme; it’s the rhythm that holds the attention at this age.

Spoken participation leads little ones to want to take books over and read them again to themselves or to their favourite toy. There is nothing as heart-warming as finding your tiny tot poring quietly over a book on their own, or pointing out a special point on the page to teddy.

Jo Burnell is KBR's Development Editor and resident paediatric speech pathologist. A reviewer of children’s and YA books and shortlisting judge for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year, Jo is familiar with effective writing for Upper Primary and Secondary students.