I have written this book with my son, Hendrick in mind. Like many children, Hendrick struggles to produce a range of letter sounds and blends. He works with speech pathologists both at school and in therapy and we work together at home and at my daycare center on different exercises to help him. In my efforts to help Hendrick with the sounds he struggles to produce, I asked his speech pathologists, “Are there books on the market that I could read with him at home and daycare to help improve his speech?” I was surprised that such books were not available and decided to write them myself.
Hendrick’s school speech pathologist and the Caledonia Education Foundation in Caledonia, Michigan, were excited about this idea and eager to have these books set up in classrooms.
My son cannot pronounce the letter ‘f,’ so this first book Fiona the Frog and Friends, focuses on several ‘f’ sounds on each page. I wanted to make the books fun to read with colorful illustrations so that my son could enjoy the process. We have to do a lot of exercises at home and he gets upset because these are things that distract him from playing. So now instead of saying, “Let’s work on your letter sounds,” all I have to say is, “Let’s read a book together!” His siblings can just cozy up and enjoy the story as well. I really value inclusion in the day to day life of children with special needs and these books can be enjoyed by all children, whether they have speech delays or not.
There are many times that my son has to be separated from his peers in order to work on trouble sounds. These books can be used at free play, in the reading corner, be read to the whole class, and be placed at audio stations. I want what’s best for my son. I want him to master those problem sounds, but I also don’t want him singled out. I want him to have fun while learning and grow up feeling like a regular kid. I hope your students and children will enjoy this book as much as Hendrick.