using Nobody Hugs a Cactus in speech therapy
Frequent Speech Sounds:

/h/ initial


Valentine’s Day

Book Details:
Diverse Characters: N/A
Age Recommendation: Early Childhood, Elementary

Nobody Hugs a Cactus

By Carter Goodrich

Hank is the prickliest cactus in the entire world. He sits in a pot in a window that faces the empty desert, which is just how he likes it. So, when all manner of creatures—from tumbleweed to lizard to owl—come to disturb his peace, Hank is annoyed. He doesn’t like noise, he doesn’t like rowdiness, and definitely does not like hugs. But the thing is, no one is offering one. Who would want to hug a plant so mean? Hank is beginning to discover that being alone can be, well, lonely. So he comes up with a plan to get the one thing he thought he would never need: a hug from a friend.

This delightful Valentine’s Day book can be used in speech therapy to address social/emotional issues like making friends and thinking about how others view you. It is also great for sequencing and for inferencing as well as for character analysis! Discover more of the speech and language teaching concepts for using Nobody Hugs a Cactus in speech therapy below: 

Key Teaching Concepts

Narrative Structure:

complete episode

Narrative Concepts:

character analysis
illustration study
verbs (linguistic)


sequence of creatures that visit Hank


desert, interrupt, ignore, relax, tumbleweeds, private, property, loping, strode, invited, skittered, joking, lonely

Character Analysis:

What did it mean when coyote said “you are just as prickly on the inside as you are on the outside?”
Why did the cowboy say, “too bad nobody hugs a cactus?”
How do you think Hank has been brought up to act?
How did Hank’s personality change?


thinking about how others view you
being tough
making friends
character growth


verbs (linguistic)


How does Hank feel at the beginning?
How does Hank feel each time he gets interrupted?
How does Rosie feel?
What does Rosie think when Hank doesn’t respond? What would you think if it were you?
What does the tortoise think about Hank when he yells at him?
What did the lizard think about Hank?
What did the owl think about Hank’s offer?
How did Hank feel when he offered to give owl a hug and was rejected?
How did they feel at the end?

If you are interested in seeing other Valentine’s Day books to use in therapy, then check out the Narrative Teaching Points Book List for a printable copy.