The Benefits of Reading Books

The benefits of reading books are well known to many in the teaching and speech pathology professions.

On this page, I would like to introduce to you the idea of children's literature being used as the focus of language intervention.

The term 'reading books' refers mostly to well written picture books and non-fiction books, used as a language teaching tool.

There is research data that supports the efficacy of Shared Book Reading. Even though the success of text-based intervention is well documented, at this stage it is not commonly used as a language intervention tool.

The benefits of reading books are appreciated by many who work in the teaching and speech pathology professions. It's recognised that a large percentage of a school child's academic education is centred around being able to read and comprehend books, both fiction and non-fiction texts.

A Night on the Town

I recently had a night out with a friend at a Brunswick street bar in Melbourne. Some of the new bars in Brunswick street are amazing.

This particular bar was a retro 70's type place with deep couches, soft lighting, and very pricey cocktails. Toward the end of the evening I could barely move, and didn't really want to.

The conversations we had were many and varied. One conversation stuck with me in particular. It was on the subject of memes.

Memes and Speech Pathology Practice

memes. Memes was first coined by Richard Dawkins in his book the Selfish Gene.

To paraphrase, memes are ideas or behaviors that pass from one person to another, sometimes generation to generation, often without reflection of their continued relevance.

Examples of memes include ceremonies, songs, dance, scientific ideas and theories. Memes can be a good thing. Passed on memes are sometimes necessary for a particular culture to help retain rich traditions.

Unfortunately memes can also lead to certain ideas and theories being 'set in concrete.' For instrance, there are several memes that are well entrenched in both the teaching and speech pathology professions.

The defining trait of a meme is that it is resistant to change.

For a more detailed discussion of memes in speech pathology practice please read Language Intervention for School-Age Students , pages 124 - 126 by Geraldine Wallach.

Traditional Language Intervention is like Windows 95

It's interesting to compare traditional language intervention to Windows 95. Windows 95 was revolutionary in its day, but cannot really compare to Windows XP or Windows 7 as an operating system.

It could be argued that the same is true of traditional language intervention. It still has its place and is still effective, but has been succeeded by an arguably better operating system: text-based intervention.

As a student I was taught theories based on research of language learning systems developed, sometimes, 30 years ago.

My experience as a speech pathology student is similar to the way current speech pathology students are taught language theory and intervention. I don't think much has changed in the past 10 years.

That's not to say that traditional language intervention has little benefit. There is much to like about it. I continue to use traditional language therapy tools, but I use them as a complement to Shared Strategic Reading.

The two systems work well in tandem, so long as therapy goals are clearly defined. The benefits of reading books to children combined with traditional language intervention works very well.

The ideas I put forward on this site I don't expect all to agree with, but that's ok. At the very least, it should provide an interesting debate.

The reality is language intervention is still in its infancy. The more that researchers learn about oral language functions the more refined and improved language intervention will become over the journey.


Dawkins, R. (1990) The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press

Paul, R. (2006) Language Disoders form Infancy through Adolescence. Assessment and Intervention. Mosby

Wallach, G.P. (2008) Language Intervention for School-Age Students: Setting Goals for Academic Success. Mosby Elsevier

Content Updated 8/11

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