Recently, I was discussing MBN with a colleague and she asked whether I had certain criteria when choosing books. When I worked as a elementary school-based speech language pathologist, I often used books to support language goals. Books helped to structure therapy around a specific topic or theme that could be carried over into multiple activities.
After taking some time to think about the specifics, I came up with an acronym to represent how I often choose books. These are my M.U.S.T. haves when choosing a book to read aloud with children.
Multicultural, Diverse Characters
Over 90% of the students I served were African-American or Hispanic, so using books that featured diverse characters was a must. Now as a parent, my love for seeing Maya reflected in the books we read has increased even more. We love finding books that featuring diverse kids, just being kids.
Unique Vocabulary & Sophisticated Language
Reading books that include Tier 2 words is one of the best ways to introduce your little one to new vocabulary words. While Tier 1 words like cookie, baby, and happy are typically heard often and learned through everyday conversation, Tier 2 words are those that are used by mature language users and require explicit instruction for children (e.g., illustrate, achieve, approach). When books contain Tier 2 vocabulary and other examples of sophisticated language, children are hearing great language models they can later repeat.
Story Grammar Components
Story grammar is used to break down the important components of a story. Understanding these components individually allows a child to understand the entire story better. As you read, help your child understand the setting, characters, plot, resolution, and how the characters are feeling.
Ten Minutes or Less
It can be challenging to keep your little one engaged when the book you are trying to read is too long. It should not take more than 10 minutes to read the entire book, including time for questions and discussions. If the book is long, plan ahead to only read a portion of it.
Hopefully these tips help you when choosing the next book you read to your little one or your students!