Reading with a Purpose – The Versatility of Printable Stories

“Reading to your child from an early age is one of the most important things you can do to help prepare your child for mastery of language, better communication skills and offers a solid foundation for academic excellence”

I developed the Boon Town Stories as a labour of love for my son, Michael, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, hearing loss and microcephaly. I wanted a fun interactive resource that could help stimulate his functional language development, especially his understanding of words. As a Speech-Language Therapist I used my knowledge of language acquisition ensure that these stories are thoughtfully and creatively crafted in response to the typical developmental milestones of language acquisition. 

And so, the Boon Town Series was born. The main character is Buddy, a blue lemur-monkey who has lots of fun as he learns about the world around him through what he sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches and experiences. The stories are ideally for children 9-18 months, children learning to talk, or children using single words. The words in this series will help to stimulate the child’s single word vocabulary by teaching a variety of developmentally appropriate words within familiar every day themes. Examples of vocabulary include: names of objects, action words, describing words, social words (hello, goodbye), sound associations, etc. The themes of each story in the series is different and covers: my family, body parts, clothes, daily routines, and the farm.

The language used in these stories are selected to help teach the child developmentally appropriate vocabulary through:

  • Simple repetitive language (so the child can join in).
  • A variety of words to help develop the child’s vocabulary.
  • Simple illustrations to teach the child important concepts.
  • Large print to help develop children’s literacy skills.
  • Flash cards are available to reinforce vocabulary from the stories.
  • A checklist at the end of each story will enable parents to monitor their child’s progress.

Michael’s language comprehension was delayed, and he had limited words that he used functionally, so the Boon Town Stories came in quite handy.  We had Dressing Time stuck onto his wardrobe in his bedroom and went through the clothes and body parts each morning while we were getting dressed. The Meal Time Stories was pasted on a board next to his chair in the kitchen. We used the language in the story to support him in making functional requests while eating and drinking. Fun Time was a winner when out and about in the park. Before heading out, we read the story of all the actions Buddy did in the park. We also brought the corresponding Flashcards along to help Michael follow instructions. Soon we were giving him 2-3 instructions with the Flashcards, such as: “First, you are going to run, then you are going to jump and last you are going to sit down. Run-jump-sit down.” Michael started reading at a very young age, however he did not understand at the same level. This is typical of a child with Hyperlexia. The Boon Town Stories came in very handy here as we were able to cut the text from the pictures and do picture-sentence matching tasks. It was a great way to see if he really understood what he read or what was read to him. The Flashcards was used to teach Michael categorisation. We grouped all the animals, clothes, people, actions, toys together. The cards were then used to talk about and describe the pictures; something we call ‘semantic links’ in Speech-Language Therapy. Example: Pig – Where does it live? What colour is it? What does it look like? What noise does it make? What do pigs do? What do we get from pigs (sausages, bacon, etc.)? The Family Time story helped us put a label on Michael’s feelings and talk, in general, about reasons ‘why’ this feeling might be experienced, e.g. “He is sad, because ….” Finally, we used the stories during story retelling where I’d read him the story, shuffle up the pages, and get him to put them in the correct order while retelling the story. This encouraged both his visual and auditory memory. 

The stories were great hit in his preschool and for Michael it was super that the vocabulary was being reinforced in a different setting and not just at home. The Boon Town Stories started as a labour of love for Michael and has since been used and enjoyed by many of his friends. I hope you enjoy them too. You can find them in our SHOP. 

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