When I find a good book to use with several of my clients in speech therapy, it is truly a gift. So it is exciting to share a gem I found at one of my scouting missions at my public library,“The Gift” by Gabriela Keselman and illustrated by Pep Montserrat.

Mr. and Mrs. Goodparents are in a quandary about what to get little Mikie for his birthday. They brainstorm in their Thinking Chair to no avail so finally ask their little sweetheart what he wants. The author cleverly reveals one characteristic at a time that would make the best gift. He wants it to be….very BIG, strong, soft, warm, sweet, and it has to rock him back and forth, make him fly, laugh, and last a loooong time.  A pause at each page gives the child an opportunity to list possible gifts with that characteristic. Our grand total today was 44 for the whole book!

What is big? What is strong? I used this book with kids I have autism as well as word-finding difficulties to build up vocabulary, association and inference skills. Their answers were so varied. What will rock him back and forth? A swing, yoyo, boat or rocking chair were some answers. What would help him fly? A bird, a plane, helicopter, cloud and flying squirrel! What would make him laugh? A silly monkey, tickles, a cartoon, Sponge Bob and here is my favorite, “Turning on Grandpa’s bidet!” Apparently that child actually did that and still remembers how funny it was:) When we came to the “sweet” requirement, one of the typical peers in our group said to me, “The cool sweet or the yummy sweet?” Great question.

Each page handles one descriptive word and an illustration of that word showing the parents pinching their cheeks for “warm” or grabbing their hands for “strong.” These pictures provide an opportunity to explain the concept implied in the illustration.  the corresponding fold-out page shows what the parents have suggested Mikie wants–a big elephant or a sweet candy.

What are your favorite books to use with a variety of kids and speech and language goals?