Literacy Alert: Guest Post by Keli Richmond M.S. CCC-SLP

I posted a blog a few months ago that was written by a friend and colleague in the field of Speech-Language Pathology, Keli Richmond. I’m so excited to share another article she has written for parents who may need some tips on how to read with their children.  Keli is a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in literacy.  She is author of the Literacy Speaks program and has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with early language learners to improve speech, language, and literacy skills.  If you haven’t already done so, please visit Keli’s website and read more about her program Literacy Speaks.




Read! Read!! Read!!! Literacy opens up a world of opportunities! 

Simply reading books with children on a consistent basis promotes joint attention and social reciprocity while increasing speech and language skills!

Reading “to” and “with” children stimulates social skills by developing “attention to task” and “turn-taking interactions”. Speech and language skills are directly correlated to literacy skills. Building oral language (vocabulary) early in a child’s life will support reading comprehension during academic years. Developing sound-letter correlation knowledge creates accurate phonological representations and helps children repair unsuccessful communication attempts.

Stimulate children’s speech and language skills with shared reading activities! Choose a relaxing time of day to read! Make reading a habit! Reading is as important as brushing your teeth! Begin with books that are of particular interest. Or, start with simple books with few or no words at all. Children usually do not have the attention span to sit through books with a lot of words during their first experiences. Just talk about the pictures. Label all of the objects in the pictures and talk about what is happening in the pictures. Let the child turn the pages so he/she begins to understand that a book has a beginning and an end. Children enjoy books with manipulatives such as puzzles or puppets. Manipulatives keep children engaged during initial literacy experiences and work well to help children learn new vocabulary and retell stories.

Literacy development begins at birth and continues to grow throughout childhood ~ and life!

Begin building vocabulary skills by talking to babies!

Explain daily activities:

“We are going to the grocery store.”

“I need to buy six red apples today.”

“Now, we are going to pay for the groceries.”

Continue to talk to your children as they grow!

Play vocabulary games:

“Let’s see how many animals we can name!”

Talk about your environment:

“Look! There is an oak tree. It has a trunk with bark on it.

Oak trees have curved leaves. In the autumn, the leaves fall to the ground.”

Introducing print to children is essential! Point to the words as you read books to children. This simple gesture encourages print awareness. Children learn that print moves from left to right and top to bottom.

Focus on one sound-letter correlation per week. Go on a letter hunt! Letters are everywhere! Find the letter you are focusing on and make the sound correlation together. Trace the letter on paper or in pudding, yogurt or ice cream while you practice making the sound together!

Older children enjoy activities that bring books to life! Take a trip to an aquarium while reading books about ocean life. Develop a menu and make a meal together while reading books about healthy nutrition. Draw or role play! Bring imagination to life by drawing scenes from printed books with children. Create a “readers theater”! Perform plays about favorite books for friends and family!

Your library is a wonderful resource! It is full of books; and, if you have any questions about the age level of a book you should be reading, you always have the assistance of a librarian. Where else can you access all the books a child’s mind is craving for free?

Reading is magic! Engaging a child in twenty minutes of reading activities per day develops literacy and academic knowledge while promoting speech/language and social skills!

Give the gift of literacy ~ the gift that truly gives for a lifetime! Take “time-out” to read with a child!

Resource: Find sound-loaded books and activity ideas at


Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gillon, G. T. (2002). Follow-up study investigating benefits of phonological awareness intervention for children with spoken language impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 37(4), 381-400.

Justice, L. M. (2006). Clinical approaches to emergent literacy intervention. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing, Inc.

Norwell, S. (2007). Literacy Learning: An intervention for Children with Autism. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 16, 8-18

About the Author

Keli Richmond, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist specializing in early literacy development. She has a Master of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Audiology, a Minor Focus in Special Education and a Teaching License. Keli has over 14 years experience in the speech and literacy disciplines.

Currently, she conducts in-service training for school-based personnel, presents accredited continuing education seminars nationwide for Northern Speech Services, and speaks at Speech-Language-Hearing Conventions, Educator Conferences and related events.

She is the author of Literacy Speaks!® ~ a comprehensive program driven by orthographic instruction (printed cues) that focuses on improving speech intelligibility, enhancing phonological awareness and expanding language skills while developing a strong literacy foundation.

Some highlights of Keli’s career are receiving the “Professional Achievement Award in Recognition of Advancement of Knowledge in Clinical Practice” from the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA) and the “Award for Continuing Education” (ACE) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The ISHA award is based on outstanding professional development and community involvement. The ASHA award is based on commitment to lifelong learning. 260-420-READ (7323)




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