Storybooks offer a great way to teach your elementary students to make inferences about the point of view of different characters
As school-based SLPs, we will inevitably have students on our caseloads who have challenges with pragmatic language, including difficulties inferring the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others.
Difficulties in this area usually lead to difficulty navigating social situations, as well as understanding videos, stories, and even school subjects like Drama and Social Studies.
While real-life social interactions with other students, as well as well-curated videos, can be great teaching tools for perspective taking in speech therapy, I've found that books are a great first step in teaching kiddos how to imagine others' points of view.
Because, more than any other medium, books allow you to go at your own pace, pause, refer back to an earlier page, and just generally delve in as deep as you need to go, with as much time as you need. And the pictures in storybooks usually depict key facial expressions and scenes to help students to infer all of the important inter-character dynamics.
These are 5 books I've returned to again and again over the years to help teach this very critical skill. They are books I never tire of, and my students always find the stories entertaining and compelling.
I've also provided links to the corresponding StoryWhys book companion for each storybook. These book companions provide all the tools you'll need to help develop your students' ability to comprehend the events in that particular story, infer the thoughts and feelings of key characters, and use higher-level vocabulary (using StoryWhys Feelings Thermometers) to talk about the degree to which characters are feeling various emotions.
STORYWHYS BOOK COMPANIONS FOR TEACHING PERSPECTIVE TAKING IN SPEECH THERAPY:
This storybook usually delights my students because it is written from the perspective of the "big bad wolf" from the original story. It turns out there are perfectly good reasons why the wolf did what he did! It also has some cheeky language and sayings that are sure to intrigue elementary students!
I have described this book before as a "big kids' book disguised as a little kids' book." I even devoted a blog post to explaining what makes this book so complicated. The main character in this story, a cute little mouse, is actually a cunning mastermind, and it requires a great deal of theory of mind and perspective-taking to understand all of the unspoken character dynamics in this seemingly simple storybook.
This is a relatable story for many students; the main character really wants to get a pair of the same sneakers the cool kids at school are wearing, but his grandmother does not have enough money "for wants, just needs." The story is told in such a heartwarming way, and it offers so many opportunities to explore thoughts and feelings.
This book is a true gem. It has minimal language, and most of the critical moments in the story are non-verbal exchanges between characters. In order to truly understand this story, students need to infer what all of the characters are thinking and feeling. The pictures brilliantly depict body language. Some of the statements made in the text are untrue. Your students will be rapt!
Elmer is an endearing elephant who wrongly thinks the other elephants laugh at him. So he goes away and plays a trick on them. There are many thoughts and feelings to infer in order to understand this story. The illustrations are great too.
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Have you heard? StoryWhys now offers the Speech and Spell series of resources. I am always trying to tie articulation work and spelling together in my therapy and I've never found any good resources out there to help me do this. So I made my own! Many more speech sounds and spelling rules to come. They'll be 50% off for 48 hrs when new resources are added to the StoryWhys store. Find them here.
Did you know book companions can be among the best speech therapy materials for elementary students? Explore all of the StoryWhys book companions for speech therapy in my store. You'll find comprehensive book companions that target many different language skills or Spotlight Series book companions that focus on one type of skill, all using high-quality, beloved storybooks.
And get your FREE, 71-page book companion for speech therapy on the Special Offers page.