Price: $19.95 (hardback); discounts available for multiple copies.
Speech Class Rules, an illustrated children's book by Ronda M. Wojcicki with illustrations by Loel Barr, aims to demystify the speech therapy experience for children of elementary school age.
The narrator, Laney Lynn, is a girl about to speak at her speech therapy "graduation" ceremony. Nervously, she wonders what she will say and worries that she might forget how to say it. She thinks back to her first speech therapy session and the combination of fear and resentment she felt when she learned that she would be attending "speech class." Why were they making her go? Why didn't anyone else from her classroom have to go? She recalls walking into the speech room and meeting Mrs. W, the "teacher" (speech-language pathologist), who turned out to be kind and friendly, and getting to know the other students, who worked together and encouraged each other.
She remembers the teacher going over a list of "Speech Class Rules" posted on the board; "We speak slowly and clearly," "We take turns talking," and so on. At first, these rules appeared to be just another stifling list of Dos and Don'ts, but as the class worked together, Laney Lynn saw that Mrs. W used these rules to help her students achieve their goals to speak more clearly, fluently, and appropriately.
As she thinks about all the progress she has made, and how much speech class has helped her express herself, she realizes she knows exactly what she wants to say at her graduation: "Speech class rules!"
The straightforward story and the charming illustrations make this book informative and engaging, and I think it could make a very effective tool for children about to begin speech therapy in a school setting, as well as for their parents (who, in my experience, tend to be a lot more nervous than their children about the prospect of speech therapy!). The story works as something of a "what to expect" summary based on a typical school-based, pull-out, group therapy model (where students are pulled out of class and meet as a group with the speech therapist). In Laney Lynn's group, each student is working on goals for a different type of disorder--one for articulation, one for fluency, another for a voice disorder, and Laney Lynn herself for expressive language. While this type of group is possible in a school setting, it is also common for speech-language pathologists put together groups with similar goals. I am guessing that the author set it up this way to make the story as inclusive as possible and to allow children with a variety of communication disorders to see themselves in the story.
This book is recommended reading for any elementary school-aged child about to begin speech therapy, but it can also be useful as an awareness-raising tool for family members, classmates, and teachers working with children who receive speech therapy services. Many teachers, parents, and students not receiving speech therapy have only a vague idea what goes on in the speech room. I can see this book being a very effective discussion starter in a home or classroom with a child who goes to "speech class".
Here's an idea: if you have a child receiving, or about to receive, speech therapy services in school, buy a copy of Speech Class Rules
to read with your child, and then donate it to your child's classroom or school library. This way it will benefit not only your child and his/her teacher and classmates, but also all the future students of your child's teacher.