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Sammy Learns to Talk Review by Donna Campos

Angela Holzer
Speak With Me Books, an Entity of "Good Sound Publishing"
1017 East 75 South
Bountiful, UT 84010

Sammy Learns to Talk is the first title in a new children's book series for speech development. It is a glossy soft cover book of 36 pages, the first three of which provide instruction for the parent. The inside front cover includes an explanation of the series, while the inside back cover contains a Practice Worksheet for "S" Words. This particular book focuses on the "S" sound while also reviewing all the basic sounds a child needs to know before the age of 8, as outlined in the Sound Development Chart. This chart is included with each book purchase, and details are available on the website.

The well-illustrated story follows Sammy the Snake as he learns to talk while taking a walk, or in his case, a slither. The story includes the additional benefit of color exposure, as Sammy meets various animals of different colors. Designed for use by speech therapists, teachers, and parents, the series was created to encourage practice of appropriate speech sounds. The book measures 6 x 9 inches and has full-color pages throughout. No additional materials are required, although the worksheet on the inside back cover may be photocopied as needed.

The introductory pages of instruction are wonderful. The first page ("Focus Sound & More") includes the simple phrases emphasized in the book, a typical age range for development of the sound represented in the book, and the typical age of mastery. Easy-to-follow instructions on tongue placement will assist parents of children who are struggling with the "S" sound. Also provided is a simple dialogue to help your child practice the sound. The second page, "Speak With Me," gives instruction for a face-to-face speech session that any parent can easily follow. Great encouragement is included so that parents will provide positive reinforcement throughout the process. The final page of instruction is titled "Read The Story." It provides reminders for clarity and tips for encouraging the child to verbalize various phrases within the story. Several phrases are repeated throughout the story, and children will quickly catch on to the repetition. The story itself is simple yet playful, and children will enjoy the adorable ending. The illustrations are bright and colorful. Sammy becomes expressive at times as he meets intimidating animals and playful ones, and the illustrations do a wonderful job capturing expression. Backgrounds are colorful but minimally detailed, allowing the child to focus on the story with little distraction. Animals do communicate with speech in the story, but they are never clothed and are presented as animals. And Sammy does speak his new words with a demonstrated stuttering sound as he says them for the first time. Any child who enjoys good children's books will enjoy this story as it covers colors along with the sounds, and children will never realize they are practicing pronunciation.

The Speak With Me series is an excellent addition to the literature world, particularly as an item for speech support, and Sammy Learns to Talk was a fantastic addition to our home. Our three-year-old enjoyed it equally with our nine-year-old. Even our 22-month-old was attempting to make the sounds along with us as we read. The instruction for parents is excellent. I wish I'd had these pointers when we were knee deep in Speech Therapy sessions and at a loss for how to offer support from home. The website includes additional activity ideas for use with the included worksheet. The price of $8.99 is reasonable for a book with speech benefit and helpful instructions for parents. The lack of extensive background illustration was wonderful for our son functioning on the autism spectrum, as he was not overwhelmed with information while reading. The repetitive phrases are also excellent for readers and non-readers alike, making this an ideal book for older siblings reading to younger children. I am eagerly awaiting the remaining books in the series!

This is a fun book with adorable characters, great focus on speech therapy skills, and the added benefit of a simple worksheet. Sammy Learns To Talk is a must-have for every speech therapist and any family with a desire to encourage proper speech patterns in a fun and inviting way.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009