As speech language pathologists, we try to link the classroom curriculum with language goals. Currently I have elementary aged students who are studying weather, the Civil War, the nervous system, the rain forest, poetry and Black History. I look for the best books to use for teaching the student, grammar, concepts or thinking skills, while reinforcing concepts in their subject areas.

I came across an environment education series that is excellent for teaching and reinforcing IEP goals for students. It is the “Adventures of Riley” series by Amanda Lumry and Laura Jurwitz. This author-illustrator duo combines an English degree from Yale and a Visual Environmental Studies degree from Harvard to tell an educational story through clever illustrations combined with photographs.

Each adventure begins with a letter inviting Riley to an exciting faraway place to find answers to real-life environmental quandaries. Uncle Max asks him to join Aunt Martha, Cousin Alice and himself as they travel the globe, learning, doing research and solving problems. How can we save the koala’s habitat of eucalyptus trees? Why are the polar bears becoming endangered? Why are areas of Australia’s coral reef dying and what are the implications? As kids follow the clues, and learn about animals, their habitats, and the balance of nature, they have to identify the problem, predict outcomes, make inferences, summarize and draw conclusions.

What a wonderful way to learn about animals, their habitats, and challenges, while building language skills.

I have used and enjoyed:

The Adventures of Riley South Pole Penguins

The Adventures of Riley The Polar Bear Puzzle

The Adventures of Riley Project Panda

The Adventures of Riley Outback Odyssey

The Adventures of Riley Riddle of the Reef