In this week’s episode of the SLP Now podcast, Liliana (The Bilingual Speechie) shares tips to help your diversify your therapy materials.
– CCBC Statistics
– Navigating and managing difficult classroom discussions
– Why use Literary Interventions for Diverse populations?
– International Children’s Digital Library
– Children’s Book Council
– Diverse Book Finder
– Liliana’s Diverse Book List
– FREE Questionnaire
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Marisha: Welcome to the SLP Now Podcast. This is a very special episode, it's off of the regular schedule. But we are participating in the SLP Connect POD Conference. I'm incredibly excited to have Lilliana Vazquez with us today. And so just a little bit about Liliana, we'll definitely learn more about her through the podcast, but she is a certified, licensed bilingual speech language pathologist who currently practices in Chicago, Illinois. She has extensive experience serving bilingual populations and she works predominantly with bilingual Spanish-speaking students in general education programs, blended preschool, and low-incidence programs. So lots and lots of expertise and knowledge from Liliana.
Then before we dive into all of the juicy content, we just wanted to take a quick second to share our financial disclosures. So I am Marisha Mets and I'll be interviewing Liliana and just facilitating the discussion on how to diversify our speech therapy materials and just talking about why representation and inclusivity in the speech room matters. But I am the founder of SLP Now and I do receive compensation for the sale of those memberships. Then Liliana, do you want to give us a quick recap of your financial disclosures?
Liliana: Yes. Hi, everyone. My name is Liliana Diaz-Vasquez. I am a TPT author. I have my own website, bilingualspeachie.com, and I do get paid for my resources that I provide for SLPs and teachers.
Marisha: Awesome. Then we don't have any relevant nonfinancial disclosures to share, so we get to dive right in. So, Liliana, you've been on the podcast before, so if people want to listen back to episode 54, they can hear a little bit more about your experience working with bilingual students. But in case people haven't listened in, I'm curious if you can tell us a little bit about your experience with your bilingual populations and how you ended up there and then lead us into your experience with diversifying your speech therapy materials and just a quick recap of how you ended up being an awesome resource on this topic.
Liliana: Yes. Thank you so much once again for having me back on here. It's such a pleasure. Yeah, for those of you guys that are listening and don't know who I am, as I said, my name is Liliana Diaz-Vasquez and I am a school-based speech language pathologist. I have been working with the bilingual population for the last... I think now going on seven years as a bilingual SLP in the public school system. I was born and raised in Chicago. I'm first generation Mexican American and I speak English and Spanish fluently. Most of the students that I currently work with are predominantly Spanish speakers although I do also work with students who both speak English and Spanish and I work full-time in a predominantly Latinx community in Chicago.
Yeah. And I've been working with my students that are enrolled in blended preschool programs and our low-incidence programs. Overall, I feel like it's been quite a journey from when I first started, started this path of providing resources and just talking about bilingualism. It's always been a passion of mine since I was in school. It's a population that I knew I wanted to work with and I'm deeply invested in just all of the research and best practices for working with diverse populations. But yeah, I'm really just... How would I say? Just happy where I am right now overall. Today, just talking about diversity and diversifying our speech therapy materials is definitely a topic that sits really near to my heart.
It's a topic that I can greatly relate to growing up as a first generation Mexican American living on the south side of Chicago and attending the public school system from kindergarten to high school. I'm so glad to be sharing my experiences with you and the listeners, as well as my current self, reflections about my own personal journey through the education system. I attended an elementary school that had a large Latinx student population and I was very fortunate to have diverse teachers who were black, Latinx, white, Asian, and Arabic all throughout elementary school and high school. That factor alone, not many can say they grew up with that, so I'm very thankful for the wonderful teachers I had growing up.
But if you were to ask me to recall stories or literature or lessons where I saw my own culture reflected upon or where I saw a mirror image of my own cultural identity being Latina, being Mexican, I can't really tell you or give you an example of a book that deeply resonated with who I am because all of the stories I ever read in school were about white protagonists or characters. I think back to the stories I read in school, such as The Giver, Harry Potter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Outsiders, these were all primarily white characters. Now, I don't think that at the time when I was younger that it bothered me much because I was simply reading what I was being assigned and I didn't question it because you couldn't of course.
I grew up with that mentality with what your teacher assigns you just have to do. But I will say now that I reflect upon the literature that I read, I definitely feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities to learn about my own culture in the school setting and I feel like I could have learned about Mexico's rich cultural history a lot sooner. I'm very grateful for my parents because they have always taught me to be proud of who I am and they have shared and taught me all about these traditions. But if I didn't have that, then I would have never learned about who I am and where my family comes from. Not all students are fortunate to have families that are invested in embracing their own cultural practices, teachings, identities, for whatever the reason may be.
Those are the students on our caseload that we really need to think about. Now, we may ask, "Why is that? Why are students of color not learning about their own culture in school?" Well, perhaps one of the reasons is because most books don't include people of color as the main character in the story. Current statistics from the Cooperative Children's Book Center, or CCBC, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, show that the percentages of children's books depicting main characters from diverse backgrounds are lower than the number of books with main characters who are animals. And the CCBC, they collect data on books by and about people of color, and their data shows that 11% of main characters in children's books are black or African.
1% are native American, 5% are Latinx, 8% are Asian or Asian American, 0.05% are Pacific Islander, 41% are white, and about 30% are about animals or other characters. Additionally, 3% of books have a main character with a disability and 3% have a main character who identify as LGTBQ. Now, just let those statistics sink in for a while. It's really mind boggling. If you're interested, you can view these statistics and how they attain them on their website at ccbc.education.wisc.edu. But as you can see, almost half of the books are about white characters and 30% are about animals. So what can we do to improve the situation? Well, we can definitely choose to include more diverse books in our therapy materials as SLPs and for several main reasons.
Before I explain why we need to diversify our speech therapy materials, we need to talk about why representation in books matters. So, plain and simple, representation matters because the world is so diverse. Our case loads are so diverse. So why wouldn't we demonstrate diversity in our materials as well? All children have the right to be seen in the stories we are providing to them. And in this diverse world that we live in, every child should have the right to be able to pick up a book and find themselves in the story. I want to quote the famous Rudine Sims Bishop who is a professor of education at the Ohio State University. She's also a literary scholar and has taught courses on children's literature.
She's also won several awards and has conducted research and has advocated about the representation of black people in children's literature. She wrote an article called, Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors, which is often cited because of its strong advocacy for the inclusion of diverse voices in literature for children. I want to just quickly read an excerpt from the article because her words are so powerful. "When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part of. Our classrooms needs to be places where all children from all cultures that make up the salad bowl of American society can find their mirrors."
"Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books, but they too have suffered the lack of availability of books about others. They need the books as windows into reality, not just on imaginary worlds. They need books that will help them understand the multicultural nature of the world they live in and their place as a member of just one group as well as their connections to other humans." Now, this article is incredible because everything Rudine Sims Bishop discusses is 100% true. You can find the article online by searching the title, Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. I definitely recommend reading it. Diverse books can help our students understand those who are different and help them reflect upon their own experiences.
Our students who are marginalized should be able to see themselves in the story books so they too can relate to the story. And we need to be able to allow our students to feel included in society and create positive views of themselves and positive views about what they can achieve. I would also like to point out that it is important that SLPs and teachers are not only choosing to use diverse books when they have a diverse caseload, white children or dominant groups within our schools also should be exposed to diverse books and materials. I'll give you an example at my school. I primarily work with Latinx students who most are Mexican, although some of my students are Puerto Rican or Guatemalan. But I can definitely say that Mexicans are the dominant group at the school.
Although a lot of my materials include teachings about the Mexican culture, I also like to include books and materials from other cultures as well. My students also need to learn that there are other interesting and beautiful cultures that exist besides the dominant group or besides the bubble that they are familiar with. So reading books that represent different abilities, cultures, beliefs, and skin colors help us change our attitudes towards these differences, and it can help us understand those who are different than us and their experiences. If we only read about characters that reflect our own image or reality, then we are more likely to believe that our own experience is more important or more valid than those that are unfamiliar to us.
So we need to be able to have new perspectives that reflect the reality of the communities that we live in, which leads me to my next reason why we need to diversify our therapy materials. We need to be able to reflect the reality of our communities. The reality in the school that I work at is that many of my students come from immigrant families who migrated to the United States. And several of my students have experienced the hardships of deportation of a family member or fearing that their family member will get deported or having limited access to resources because of the fear of deportation. Diverse children's books can definitely be used as a resource to help with these tough topics.
Books like these might provide hope, might help bring comfort, might help bring awareness, or just overall, it's these books that our students need, really need. This is just one mirror example, the topic of immigration. However, we can find other books that demonstrate other real struggles and challenges that exist in our communities such as books about equality, books about divorced parents, about gender identity, or books about loss. There is just so much more to our communities than just a perfect square and our students need to see that and learn about that. I'll definitely give some titles or examples of books a little later on, or books on these specific topics. But just moving on to another reason why we need to diversify our speech materials is so that we can create an environment of inclusivity.
So as I mentioned earlier on from the statistics from the CCBC, only 3% of books have a main character with a disability, or as I like to say, a difference. As SLPs, we work with a wide range of communication disorders and people who have a wide range of disabilities, so we should definitely be using materials that reflect those differences so our students can feel like they too can be the hero in a story. I'll give you an example of an inservice I did with a special education teacher at my school. The special education teacher and I wanted to do an inservice for our student body. We decided that we would focus on educating the gen ed students about autism and also tie it into AAC because most of our students with autism used communication devices.
We had the teachers bring the students into the library, since at the time we didn't have an auditorium, and we showed an episode of Arthur, called When Carl Met George. The episode is about one of Arthur's friends, named George. In the episode, George makes a new friend named Carl who was very interested in trains. Then George later finds out that Carl has Asperger's syndrome and sees the world a lot differently than most people. Just overall, it's really great episode because I really feel like the show explained autism in such an easy and understandable way for children of all ages to understand. And overall, the students at my school really enjoyed it and we were able to talk about what autism is and also discuss communication disorders that often coexist with autism.
And we had several of our students from our low-incidence program talk about their AAC devices to the students. It was definitely a therapy lesson that I remember which had the most impact on my students. They were just so eager and so excited to show off their devices and for once were really included in the lesson. And that is creating an environment of inclusivity. During the lesson, I was also able to tie in my students' goals. Most of my students were working on expressing a variety of communicated functions on their devices, and they definitely were able to do that. So SLPs can be inclusive in their lessons and still tie it in to their students' speech therapy goals. Our students need to experience a sense of belonging and feel that they are valued.
After the lesson, I definitely felt like it reduced the amount of staring from the gen ed students whenever my students would use their device in the hallway or whenever they were experiencing sensory difficulties in the hallway. It allowed the gen ed students to learn about the differences that exists amongst their peers. And teaching our students to be inclusive can also help reduce possible bullying in the schools. Think about our speech students who have communication disorders such as stuttering or delays or use communication devices, teachers in SLPs need to bring more awareness to these differences so that our students don't get bullied and so students can learn to understand one another. We have to establish the positive atmospheres or climates in our schools.
We can do that through the materials and lessons we are teaching, which brings me to my next point why we need to diversify our therapy materials. We need to create a positive learning environment. As I mentioned earlier, I work with primarily Latinx students who are the dominant group at the school. Most of my students speak Spanish. As most of you know, there is a wide range of different dialects that exist within the Spanish language. I love incorporating books where my students can learn new ways to say a word in Spanish and it really makes them accept that there are many differences amongst the languages that we speak as well. One of my colleagues just recently told me about a book called Rafi and Rosi by Lulu Delacre which uses rich Puerto Rican vocabulary throughout the book.
So this is a book that I would definitely want to use with my students. But by using a diverse therapy materials, our students can learn about different variations of languages. These variations also exist in English and perhaps we can find books that have rich vocabulary where our students can learn many ways or different ways to say a word. Aside from learning about different language variations, we can teach our students about just overall the rich history and traditions that are important to a cultural group. So definitely keep those points in mind, the points that I mentioned; strive to create a positive learning environment, and overall inclusivity, and representation.
Marisha: What an amazing overview. Thank you so much for breaking that down in terms of the benefits of using those materials. I love how you gave a couple examples of what that actually looked like in your therapy and in your settings. That was really cool and helpful.
Liliana: Thank you.
Marisha: So now that we're all on board on using more diverse therapy materials and we've got lots of rationale behind that, how would you go about... because you shared some suggestions for materials. What factors would you consider when selecting those materials? Where do you look? Where do you start? Any tips or suggestions that you're willing to share?
Liliana: Yeah. There's definitely a lot of considerations that SLPs or teachers should definitely think about prior to selecting or buying materials. So I'm going to outline some questions that you can ask yourself prior to choosing materials. These aren't in any specific order, but these are definitely questions that you should ask yourself. So the first one being, definitely ask yourself, who wrote it? Is the author of the book or the therapy material from the culture that is being depicted? Definitely know about the community you work in, really strive to educate yourself about what kind of community you are in, what does that population look like? Avoid books with negative attitudes towards a group, any books with heavy, negative bias, or books that express stereotypes.
Ask yourself, is the book accurate or is the material accurate? Are the events that are talked about, are those accurate? Does it align correctly to the historical events that you are teaching or talking about? Also make sure that the material that you are selecting is age appropriate with age appropriate vocabulary. Then lastly, I would also make sure that the vocabulary in the book aligns with the culture or the group being represented. I'll give you an example. As I said earlier, I work with a lot of students who are Mexican. Now just imagine reading a book that is talking about the Mexican culture and traditions but using vocabulary that doesn't necessarily represent that group. So just make sure that the vocabulary also in the book is accurate as well.
Marisha: Perfect. What would be a good way to find out if something is accurate? Do you have any tips in navigating that?
Liliana: Well, definitely doing, once again, a search or just studying or knowing, like I said, the community that you are working in and overall what exactly are you trying to teach or what exactly is the lesson that you are trying to cover. I would do some research prior to, like I said, buying the books or the material and just learn about, let's say, just for an example, say you're doing something on Black History Month and you just want to do research to really educate yourself prior to picking any materials so that you know what to talk about or what exactly you're going to be teaching.
Marisha: Perfect. Then I think one strategy to help narrow down the texts that we're choosing or whatever content is to look at who the author is. So I know on Amazon a lot of times it gives you a little bio of the author, or doing a Google search. That's definitely not a foolproof method, but I think if the author is from that culture, there's a much bigger, larger chance that that's going to be accurate.
Liliana: Yeah. Like I said earlier, these are definitely the questions that should be going on in your head as you are picking materials. And yeah, who wrote it is definitely important. You want the information just to be depicted accurately.
Marisha: And I know there's a lot of booklets and things out there in terms of recommendations made by people from different cultures. So that might be a good way to jumpstart that search as well.
Liliana: Yeah. Like I said, I'll definitely give some examples of some of my favorite materials that I like using as well as some... I have a list that I could talk about.
Marisha: Well, let's do it.
Liliana: Okay. There's several books that I have in my collection and I know that it's so easy to fall into the popular speech therapy books that are often talked about or used in therapy. I, myself, I'm guilty of using those books as well. And these are books like; There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, et cetera. And don't get me wrong, those are great books that allow SLPs to target a variety of goals, but you can also do that with diverse books as well. So I'm going to give you some of my top recommendations of multicultural/diverse books that I frequently use in therapy as well as some speech therapy goal areas that you can target with these books. For those listening, don't worry about having to write these down really quickly.
I also have these recommendations on my website at bilingualspeachie.com as well as the goal areas that I'm going to mention. So I have these separated by category. So the first category that I have is multicultural books. I really, really like the book called, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. This book is about feeling different or feeling like an outsider but accepting who you are and where you come from. It has a really great message. For this specific book, some goal areas that you can target are learning to describe the characters in the story. You can definitely do comparing and contrasting, answering questions from the story, describing emotions, understanding perspective of others, sequencing the events from the story, using helping verbs, and I'm using conjunction such as because with this book title.
So definitely one of my favorites. Another one that also falls under this category of just multicultural books is one called, We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Jane Kates. This one is super cute. This book features Sesame Street characters and overall how people show how we are all just different but have overall many likenesses or lots of similarities. The book just overall just demonstrates that our differences is what makes us beautiful. So once again, it really has a really great message. And goal areas for this book, you can definitely work on descriptive words, adjectives, once again discussing emotions because it has lots of pictures of people's faces.
So you definitely target emotions, labeling verbs, comparing and contrasting, building mean length of utterance through picture description because it has lots of pictures in it, answering WH-questions, like, who has the orange nose? Because once again it has a Sesame Street character. So you can really work on those WH-questions through the pictures it has or even following directions, such as, point to the girl that is running. So lots and lots of goals for that book. For the next one, it's same thing under the same category. This one's called Different and the Same by by Adijah and Atiya Brabham. Hopefully I'm saying that correctly. This book is about twin sisters who explore their individuality and celebrate their sameness.
The book also demonstrates different activities that make each one unique, and by activities, I'm talking about all sorts of verbs you could target with this one. I know in the story one girl likes painting, the other girl likes drawing. So definitely labeling verbs for this book, using adjectives once again, adverbs, definitely pronouns such as they, or she, comparing and contrasting, once again building mean length of utterance, answering questions like, who likes to sing? Who likes to paint? And using conjunctions, like, she likes to sing, and, she likes to draw. So another good book with lots of goals that you can work on for language.
The next category are books about the black culture. So these are books that I have on my shelf as well. The first one is called Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela joy. This is a powerful book about a child who reflects on the meaning of being black and ties it to her culture and her history. It's also about normalizing the word black and just being proud overall of your identity. I love this book too to really discuss metaphors. In the back of the book, there are poems and you can definitely work on writing goals and just overall discussing just literary goals, figurative language, using adjectives once again. It has lots of great vocabulary such as words like freedom, community, culture, things that you can work on in therapy and also really great pictures, so you can work on picture description as well.
Another book that also falls under this category, it's called Mariama - Different But Just the Same by Jerónimo Cornelles. This book is about a girl from Africa that moves to a new country where she does not know the language and is unfamiliar with the culture. It's a beautiful story about identity and the process of integration and solidarity. Goals that you can work on with this book as well is sequencing the events of the story because it really is this long narrative of where this little girl started. So you can definitely work on, first she did this, then she did that. So sequencing, recalling and describing details from the story, making comparisons, and then also defining and using new vocabulary. The black has a glossary of a variety of vocabulary words that are used throughout the book. So that one's also a good one.
Hair Love is another one. This book, it's called Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. This book centers around the relationship between a black father and his daughter and it tells a story of how the father must do his daughter's hair for the first time. It's also about embracing and loving your natural hair. So I love this book and this one is super cute as well. The goal areas that you can work on with this one is same thing; sequencing events of the story, recalling, describing details. This book also has a glossary in the back of vocabulary words, so you can work on vocabulary. Also describing character emotions throughout the story and perspectives and answering questions as well.
Then another book too that also is under this category, Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry. This book is about a little girl who goes to a museum and comes face to face with a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. The little girl sees the possibility and promise and the hopes and dreams of herself in the painting of Michelle Obama. It's a super symbolic book. I highly recommend this one as well. With this one, it has lots and lots of pictures. So once again, these language areas that you can really work on, like pronouns, adjectives, perspective taking, WH-questions. It's also a really good book for that as well.
Now, moving on to a new category. These are books about the Muslim religion. This book is called Under My Hijab by Hena Khan. This book celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who wear hijabs and provides an introduction to what a hijab is. The goal areas for this one is definitely talking about clothing, labeling, describing clothing, recalling and describing details from the story, comparing and contrasting, once again those WH-questions, and sequencing as well because it's also a story that has a lot of sequential order to it. So lots of goal areas for that one as well. This one is one of my favorite, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by... and I'm probably going to say this name wrong, but Ibtihaj Muhammad.
This is a very powerful book about a girl name of Faizah and her first day of school. And her older sister, Asiya, it's her first day of school. Not everyone at school wears hijabs and they don't see it as beautiful and the character in the story overall goes through these emotions of being hurt and confused and her sister helps her throughout the book and stuff. So this one also, I really, really like this book. You can definitely also cover labeling, describing clothing, those emotions, comparing and contrasting, adjectives. It's also a great, great book. Then moving onto a new category, books about divorce. I really think that these types of books are important as well. As I mentioned earlier, our communities are not a perfect square.
So books like these can be so helpful to our students and so meaningful to our students. This is one of my favorites as well. It's called Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend by Karen Stanton. This book is about dealing with the many changes that come with having divorced parents. It's about a boy who lives with his mother and father on different days of the week. Also has really great illustrations as well. So picture descriptions, a big one for this one. You can work on labeling the days of the week, recalling the details from the story. You can also use complex sentences with prepositions, because in the story, they start off a lot of the sentences with like, "On Monday, on Thursday, on Wednesday." So you could do that as well.
Then another book that's in a new category, these are books about autism, because as I had mentioned earlier, it's important to also be inclusive about the students that we are working with. This one's called, Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism by Jen Milia. This book is about a child who has autism and is dealing with sensory challenges and then she ends up receiving help from her family and her teacher through accommodations and encouragement in order to participate in this sensory activity where they are making like slime. It was like slime, which is difficult for her. I like this book because you could definitely work on following directions and sequencing once again because there's a slime activity included at the end of the book and it comes with instructions on how to make slime.
So you can definitely tie it in to a hands-on activity when you're reading the story. And you can definitely work on problem solving and talk about expected behaviors versus unexpected and character perspective with this one. So that one's really great. Then books about gender. This book title is called, Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman. This is a great book that helps rethink and reframe the stereotypical blue-pink gender by emphasizing that boys can like the color pink as well. This one you can also work on following directions. You can tell your student, "Point to the pink ball. Point to the the blue car." You can also work on adjectives by color and labeling verbs as well for this book as well.
Then the second one under the same category is called What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold. This book is about a gender creative character named Riley who loves to wear whatever clothes feels right for the day. Then at the playground within the story, the character is confronted by a kid who asks Riley if Riley is a boy or a girl. In the book, the author doesn't really assign a gender pronoun to the character, because overall, the book is about normalizing gender expressions that people have and about being confidently non-binary. So with this book, the character wears a lot of different clothing and just costumes. So you could work on labeling and describing clothing as well, adjectives because the character has different colored socks with different patterns, labeling body parts because the character puts on different hats on his head and on his body, and prepositions.
You can work on, "Glasses on Riley's face," or, "Children in the sandbox." So those are other goals that you could target. Then lastly, this category, books about the Latinx culture. The first one is called, Where Are You From? By Yamile Saied Méndez. Also these books that are in this category do come in Spanish as well in case you are looking for Spanish books. This book is about a girl that is constantly getting asked where she is from and she seeks advice from her grandfather who provides her with a very rich explanation. The story is overall about just self-acceptance and cultural identity. Really, really great for vocabulary. There's so many rich vocabulary words in this book. Picture descriptions illustrations are really beautiful as well, and answering WH-questions from the story.
Then I'll give maybe one more just because of time. This one, let's see. There's another book under this category called Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal. This book is about a little girl named Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela who believes she has too many names, but throughout the book, she learns that the history that she carries with her name is beautiful and to overall be proud of her name. In this one, you can work on conjunctions, like in the story, her grandmother loved books and poetry. You can work on picture descriptions, pronouns, recalling and describing details from the story as well. So, I mean, I could keep going, Marisha. There's so many books, but for time's sake, I'll end it here.
Marisha: First of all, you were so incredibly amazing. That was so helpful. I feel like given your... just how the hour has gone so far, giving the rationale, giving us some tools that we can use to make decisions and select really great materials, and then you took it one step further and just put together this amazing list for us to start with. Then the speech therapy goal areas, that is so incredibly practical and helpful. I love it. I will put the link to your blog post in the show notes so if anyone is having trouble finding that link. It is absolutely amazing. It's pretty much an outline of all of the tips Liliana gave today and then it gives all of the links to the books and the goal areas. It's a phenomenal resource. I'm so excited.
Liliana: Yeah. I mean, these are really great books that I really think every SLP should have in their library of books. Just one thing I want to mention. Topics like race, culture, gender, can often come up as we are working with our students and especially if you're going to be using diverse materials. As I mentioned before, it's really important to create exposure to these conversations for our students in order to guide their learning towards being really loving and caring human beings. I know at times these conversations will come up and I just wanted to provide an outline of what are some considerations that SLP should just keep in mind when reading these books to their students.
Far and foremost, definitely listen... as you're reading these stories, listen respectfully and consider your student's point of view as you're talking about these books. Keep in mind that students can sometimes indirectly give us insight as to what is going on at home or in their life. Respect their opinions. Ask yourself, why does your student feel the way he or she does? Try to provide guidance as needed. And if your student is experiencing something that should be addressed immediately, then reach out to the correct professional such as a social worker, admin, or whoever you may need. Also don't make assumptions and take the time to educate yourself or learn more about your students' cultural beliefs and practices before you assume a certain book or speech materials appropriate.
Whether you are working in student groups or not, don't expect any individual to speak on behalf of their gender, ethnic group, class, status, or the groups that we perceive them to be a part of. The student may not feel comfortable doing so, or more importantly, we cannot allow ourselves to assume that he or she is part of a certain group. So it's kind of going back to doing your research, educating yourself about the community that you are working with or the students that you are working with. Overall, if you want to establish rapport, which is key to really getting to know your students and their families, then I suggest that you do that from the very beginning of the school year. I know now we're in that back-to-school season.
I created a letter in Spanish and English that SLPs can send home to their students' families. It's like a questionnaire that respectfully you can provide to families so that they can provide you with information about the students and their family. So that's something too that you can do ahead of time to really do that research and just educate yourself about the students that you're working with. That ties in with establishing communication ahead of time and really just getting to know your students. So as I mentioned, sending home a get to know you activity where the student and family can complete is something I recommend. Communicate with parents ahead of time and just overall plan ahead.
Plan a framework, discussion questions, and overall, lead with your goals. I would say that foremost, it's important that we are also tying these conversations to our students' speech and language goals and leading with our goals because ultimately we are also trying to help our students express their ideas and point of view. So leading with your students' goals can help ensure that you are on topic and that you are guiding the conversation in a way that will be meaningful and useful to the student. But if an SLP is looking for... just SLPs listening for more tips on just managing these conversations in the speech therapy room, I highly recommend checking out Indiana University's website.
They have a page called Managing Classroom Discussions and they provide really great tips on preparing for these conversations. So I could send you the link, Marisha, so that you could share with the listeners. Then also, the actual leader also has a great article by Phuong Palafox, who is also bilingual SLP. She discusses why literary interventions for diverse populations are important. The article is called, Why Use Literary Interventions for Diverse Populations? She also discusses some great tips on how you can support your diverse populations by building rapport as well in case SLPs are interested in just learning more. But yeah, these are great books. I really recommend looking into them.
Also keep in mind you could find free books online as well. So some resources that I really recommend looking into; there is a website called diversebooks.org. It's a nonprofit organization that advocates for diversity in children's literature. They have such great resources and just tons of websites on there just linked in on where you can find books like these online. Since I know a lot of us are doing remote learning, so you can find these books online for sure. Another website that I frequently use is called International Children's Digital Library. That one has so many books in different languages. They have... I don't even know, like over 50, 60 different languages. And all of these books, you can just search by the language that you are looking for as well.
Then there's also Children's Book Council. So that is cbcdiversity.com. Also has really great book recommendations. Lastly, Diverse BookFinder. So that one is pretty cool. It's called diversebookfinder.org/books. You can just type in exactly what you are looking for in the search engine on this website and it will populate a list of books that you can use in therapy. So I love these websites. I would definitely bookmark them. If the listeners are listening in, bookmark them in your computer, they're really great references.
Marisha: That is so incredibly helpful and I will definitely find a way to share all of these amazing links, because I just started pulling them up and they are so incredibly helpful and definitely tools that I'll be using. So thank you for sharing.
Liliana: No problem.
Marisha: Then, was there anything else that you were hoping to share or any huge takeaways?
Liliana: Just the huge takeaway is like as I said. I think the points that I mentioned earlier on why we need to diversify our materials is so key. As I mentioned, we need to be able to create these positive learning environments for our students, we need to be inclusive, and we need to start really providing that representation in the speech therapy room. As I gave those examples, as I said, the popular speech therapy books, we all use them, they're great, but you could do so much more for our students by covering these type of materials, as the books I mentioned, in your speech therapy room. You'll be surprised at the different conversations that you can have with your students and just so many things that you can learn about your students to really establish that rapport, that trust.
I've done it before with my students and I absolutely love having these conversations with them. As I mentioned before, I wish I had that when I was younger, growing up in the school setting. I wish I could have read a book about Mexican American, Latina, but unfortunately I didn't. I really wish I had and now I want to do that in my therapy room with my students so that they can really, really relate to the stories that we're providing to them.
Marisha: Yeah, absolutely. The cool thing is that it benefits all students, because learning about different cultures and just all the different topics we talked about, that's going to help all of our students just increase their awareness of everything that's out there, which is really cool.
Liliana: Yeah. Like I said earlier, you shouldn't just provide or use diverse books with diverse populations. Everyone benefits from these. So I hope whoever's listening out there, take that into mind, consideration, and just start thinking more about the way you're providing services and really make it meaningful for our students.
Marisha: Yeah. The cool thing is too, we might be thinking like, "Oh man, I already have a full library of books. I don't have money or a budget to purchase new once." I haven't checked your book lists, but a lot of books are available on YouTube or through the library. So there's so many way... You don't need money, you don't need anything fancy, you can make this happen without a huge investment. And just do what you normally do with books, but just add new ones to the list.
Liliana: YouTube and Epic, the Epic app, you'll be surprised as to what book titles you can find on on Epic and on YouTube, like the full story, the full version. So definitely take advantage of those resources.
Marisha: Yeah. It's amazing. It makes it so much more accessible. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars building a library because a lot of them are available for free, which is amazing.
Marisha: Okay. Well, I think that brings us to the end of this amazing conversation. Thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge and expertise with us. Then just to wrap up, do you want to let people know where they can find out more about you and what you do?
Liliana: Yeah. So as I mentioned earlier, you could find the list of books that I mentioned on bilingualspeechie.com as well as the goal areas that I talked about and some of the important points that I talked about today as well. Otherwise, you can always find me on Instagram, bilingualspeechie, and also on Teachers Pay Teachers as well if you're looking for known resources in Spanish and English as well.
Marisha: Awesome. Thank you so much and I will see you next time.
Liliana: Thank you.
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