The Story Behind The Literacy-Based Speech Podcast (and What’s to Come!) – Episode 1


Do you have a love of picture books? If so, then you’re in the right place. Welcome to the very first episode of The Literacy-Based Speech Podcast! We are your co-hosts and fellow SLPs, Ashley and Kalin. Fun fact…we’re also cousins!

Inside this inaugural episode, we’re sharing about our backgrounds in speech therapy, our literacy-based approach, and how this podcast will help alleviate some of the overwhelm that comes with being an SLP. We know that you have a lot of goals to meet, students of all ages to see, and not enough time in the day. We’ll help you choose the most effective books to use in therapy sessions, and show you how to use them, so that you can equip your students with life-long language skills. 

To celebrate the launch of this podcast, we’re doing a giveaway! You can enter to win one of ten Amazon gift cards by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Before submitting your review, screenshot the episode and send it to us in a DM on Instagram @literacybasedspeechtherapy or via email to podcast@sweetsouthernspeech.com. The giveaway closes June 6, 2023.

Topics Discussed:

  • Who we are and why we decided to start this podcast
  • Our individual experiences that led us to becoming SLPs
  • How we discovered the most effective approach to targeting underlying language skills
  • What literacy-based speech therapy is, and why we are so passionate about it
  • The details of the four themes that you’ll hear in future episodes of The Literacy-Based Speech Podcast
  • A close look at our picture book selection process

Ashley 0:04
Hey there. I’m Ashley.

Kalin 0:05
And I’m Kalin. We are both SLPs and your hosts of the literacy based speech podcast.

Ashley 0:10
If you have a love of picture books, then you’re in the right place. Welcome to our first episode. Today, we want to share a little bit about who we are and why we wanted to start this podcast. Also what to expect from this podcast. And then we will share a bit about our book selection process, because we don’t always think that the most popular books are worthy of being on your therapy bookshelf.

Ashley 0:32
So a little bit about me, you may know me from my TPT store, or Instagram accounts. I am a wife and mom of two high school age boys. After living in Texas for about 12 years, we recently moved to the Atlanta area, I became an SLP with the intention of doing adult rehab.

Ashley 0:52
When I was in college, my uncle had a traumatic brain injury. And during the summer, one of the summers of my college, I was able to actually go down and help with some of his rehab. And I really was interested in how he recovered in the therapist, and the impact that she had on his life. And it was just amazing to see.

Ashley 1:14
So I love the medical side of things. And that was my intention. I worked out of grad school and acute care, had trach patients vents, feeding tubes, anything, you know, on the medical side, I also worked with infants and their feeding complication, I was part of a team with physical therapists and dietitians and I loved it, I loved all the medical stuff.

Ashley 1:35
But after we had kids of our own, I wanted to shift my schedule that was better aligned with them. And I wanted to switch and just kind of start my own private practice so that I could manage the hours that I wanted to. And so when my boys were in preschool, I had contracts with two local private schools, one of which was the one where my boys attended. So it was nice to see them in the hallways.

Ashley 2:00
And I also got to stay in touch with their classroom, like what they were doing in the classroom and see all the different grades in the curriculum they were doing. And so I think that really helped me as an SLP. So every summer, I would also do, I would run these camps that were also a literacy focus. And I loved sharing books with the families, it was a very academic focus type camp, it was very intentional and building relationships with the parents. It wasn’t just a drop off Summer Fun camp, it also was an investment for them.

Ashley 2:31
So I wanted that, you know, I wanted parents to be invested in the purpose of the camp. I would send home a book every night with the kids with a list of vocabulary words, so that the parents could call attention to those when they were reading with the kids. And then we would discuss it the next day. And then it kind of sort of leading to parents saying, hey, you know, we’re heading to the library, what are some good books I can get to help Johnny or they would ask for different books, suggestion ideas from me, and it just kind of started evolving.

Ashley 3:00
I noticed in my regular therapy sessions that I had a great deal of kids with language based struggles. Those were the kinds of referrals that I started getting. I was intentional about building relationships with the classroom teachers. And I think they realized that I knew what I was doing with the language based approach.

Ashley 3:19
Teachers would tell me how much their kids were struggling keeping up with reading comprehension. So you know, naturally, I’m just like, Okay, well, let’s go print out some materials on main idea or, you know, recall passages. And I would just do that over and over and over and I thought it was working in therapy, they seem to be answered the answer the questions.

Ashley 3:41
But then when I would talk to the classroom teachers, they were like, no, but they’re really still not understanding. They’re not extracting meaning they couldn’t answer questions that were not direct recall from books. So I dug more into the research about decontextualized, and contextualize language intervention and how to target underlying language skills. And so that’s kind of what led me to really realize that we can abroad approach all of our language concepts, through narratives and through books.

Ashley 4:18
And so that’s my background, and how I got started as an SLP. And what you know, gave me a literacy based focus. That’s my journey, and I want to introduce you guys to Kalin you may be more familiar with my resources or my face on social media, but Kalin has actually been my sidekick behind the scenes for a few years.

Ashley 4:40
We chat every day about books and our favorite picture books, and how we can use them in therapy. So I mentioned earlier, my uncle who had a traumatic brain injury, that’s actually your grandfather, Kalin. Kalin and I are cousins. So it’s fun to have another SLP in the family and It’s so fun that we get to work together every single day. And so Kalin wanted to tell everyone a little about yourself and your journey to be an SLP.

Kalin 5:09
Okay, so yes, I’m Kalin, and I am married, my husband and I have three kids four and under, and I am on social media. However, I am keeping it pretty private, just my family, just my kids. But I will be definitely more present on the literacy based speech therapy account on Instagram.

Kalin 5:31
So I became an SLP. Because I so in high school, I took sign language classes, and I was very interested in that. And then I was also diagnosed with what’s called Ramsay hunt syndrome in middle school. And so I went to speech therapy to get more function with my face. And then I went to visit family in Tennessee, and my mom encouraged me to read the rescue by Nicholas Sparks.

Kalin 6:00
And in that book, the mom has a child who was in speech therapy. And she also my mom brought to my attention that Ashley is a speech therapist and her journey to becoming a speech therapy was based on my grandfather. So I became interested in that. And then whenever I was getting ready to graduate, I was more interested in being an English teacher. My mom encouraged me actually to meet with a speech therapy program counselor, and just to get my options, and so whenever I did that, I decided to give it a go. And I have been in love with being a speech language pathologist.

Kalin 6:41
I practiced for two years in the schools in Memphis, Tennessee. And then after two years there, I transitioned to the children’s hospital there. And I was present in the outpatient clinic, the hospital, different types of feeding clinics, things like that. And I developed a passion actually for feeding therapy.

Kalin 7:05
It wasn’t until I moved to Tallahassee, Florida that I began working with Ashley, which was in 2020, virtually, virtually. So when I moved here to Tallahassee, I knew that I wanted to do something more from home. So I reached out to Ashley and asked her about what kind of options I had. And she brought up her

Ashley 7:31
because you knew I started making material, right? So you knew I was,

Kalin 7:35
I was thinking, How hard would it be to start my own TPT store? And then I was like, never mind?

Ashley 7:41
Yeah, I remember you asked me. And I was like, I have a better solution. Why don’t you work with me? And help me with my TPT Business?

Kalin 7:51
Yes. So I really felt like, I didn’t know what I was doing when I started working with Ashley just because I have never approached speech therapy from a literacy based perspective. Whenever I practice in the schools, and whenever I practice in the outpatient setting, I loved using picture books, absolutely loved it. And I would use it in relation to theme, or just to kind of complement my session.

Kalin 8:24
I never understood how to actually get to the richness of a book, where it’s the main focus and get the most benefit out of using a book, I didn’t realize all the different aspects that I could address using a picture book. So whenever I started helping Ashley create these materials that were based on picture books, it really challenged me, and I developed a passion for doing it.

Kalin 8:52
And now every time I read to my kids, especially if it’s a book we’ve never used, my brain just starts going with all these different ideas of what we could pull out, you start looking at books differently, totally different, which I love. So I’ve definitely grown, I still have a passion for feeding therapy. But I have totally grown a passion for literacy based speech therapy.

Kalin 9:19
And also it’s very small, but I recently started my own private practice here in town. And whenever I use the strategies that I’ve learned over the past few years, working with Ashley and creating these materials, it is mind blowing, how different my approach is and how much progress I see how much I actually see the light bulbs turn on with my students because of how I’m using these picture books. And we’ll go more into how to use picture books and how to provide literacy speech therapy approach in your therapy sessions,

Ashley 10:00
I think, too, kind of when, like you were saying, working with me and going through on some of these resources, our approach to a book companion, like what you can get on TPT is very different. And I think the word, their title book companion can mean different things. Our approach is not a themed based approach. So you’re not going to read the book, and then necessarily go do like some dot marker activities, or ball popper activities or our approaches to dig deeper, dig deep. Yes, but because language is the foundation, and so how can those narratives spill over into their oral language every day?

Kalin 10:39
Exactly. So that’s just what I have started to see shift in my approach in the students that I work with. So that’s a little bit about me. And now we’ll talk about the podcast.

Ashley 10:53
We chat about books. Every day, Caitlin and I, Marco, we use Marco Polo app, I don’t know, I don’t know if any of you guys have the Marco Polo app with your girlfriends or family or anything, but we use the Marco Polo app. And we are always talking to each other. I mean, obviously, about the business side of things and literacy. But like on our website, I have this section where people can do a book search. And that’s what we do, we are doing all the heavy lifting behind the scenes.

Ashley 11:23
We have another slp on our team as well. And she helps us as well dig through the books, pull out all the relevant information and put it on the website. And that’s what we do also with our materials is pull out all that relevant information so that you’re not having to do that. You can just print it off and sit down with your students. And you have all the information in front of you. So we chat about that all day long.

Ashley 11:46
And we kind of joke it was a few weeks ago, we joked about how, I don’t know if we said we should have a TV show or a podcast. But then we kind of got silent about it. And we’re like, well, maybe we should and you said well, if you want to do it, I’ll do it. And if you want to do it, I’ll do it.

Kalin 12:02
And then it’s actually happening.

Ashley 12:06
And so I don’t know if we’ve lost our minds. But here we are here. So we did we got serious, though. And we started thinking what are the types of episodes that we would want to create? And we came up with four themes that we want to share with you. So overall, like a how to theme. So how to, you know how to have a literacy based session? What does that look like as opposed to a theme based approach with a book?

Ashley 12:33
How to handle literacy in a group session, how to select books, how to take data, so those types of how to podcast episodes will happen. We’re also going to do what we call a deep dive. So we may take and bring you behind the scenes. I even had an Instagram post about this with the book, neck and neck. So what does that look like when you get a new book or you want to choose a book to your therapy session?

Ashley 12:58
How do you go through and dig out all of the relevant speech and language concepts that you can use with the book. So we may take one or two specific books per episode, we may also try to if I don’t have a narrative notes, that’s one of the resources in my TPT store where it’s like a one page quick cheat sheet. If we don’t have that created, we may be able to provide you guys a template so that you can fill it in as you listen and then Kalin, what are our other episode types?

Kalin 13:28
We’re also going to have like a favorites theme. And this will be anywhere between like our favorite seasonal books, our favorite summer books, our favorite theme based so bugs or ocean or kindness. Or we might even go into our favorite authors and we’ll talk about maybe Julia Donaldson’s books and why we love her books, all the things that you can take out of her books, all the concepts you can get out of her books. Or Katy Hudson, canard pack, karma Wilson, Leo Leone.

Kalin 14:01
Another category of favorites, we might talk about our favorite books to utilize with inferencing or to utilize with if you want to address figurative language rhyming. So that’s another theme for our episodes. Another episode type is this or that. And this one is probably my favorite. Because as I’ve entered the literacy based mindset, I’ve really developed a passion for getting the most bang for your buck with a book.

Kalin 14:36
So you could choose a book, and it would only address rhyming, and maybe have a little bit of repetitive text. Or you could choose a book that also addresses rhyming, maybe repetitive texts, but also has a great vocabulary, great grammar concepts that you can pull out of it. Therefore, you’re exposing your students to so much more, but you also don’t have to have 10 different books throughout the week that you’re using for because, you know, we have all of these clients, some of you guys are doing a ton of group therapy. So why grab 10 books, when you could choose two great books, maybe to use for your week, make it way easier on you. And also, you’ll start seeing how much some of these books really have to offer.

Ashley 15:30
Right. Well, and this is something we say to each other almost every day. Why are we pulling this book off of the shelf instead of that book? So this or that, why are we pulling this specific book off?

Kalin 15:44
Because there’s so many books out there? There’s so many great, cute books. But do you want a cute book? Or do you want some of these cute books are so deep, they have so much in them. And that’s a lot of our Marko Polos, actually will go to the library, and she will show me and she’ll say, go look up this read aloud for this specific book on YouTube. Because it’s so good, it’s so good.

Kalin 16:08
And then we’ll end up making a narrative note on it. And it might have 20 reviews on Amazon, which I have no clue why and neither does Ashley. But it’s so good. So yeah, that’s why this versus that. Why choose ABC when you can choose XYZ. So we’ll kind of talk you through our process, whenever we are picking books to put on our blog, or picking books to create a book companion narrative note why we choose this book versus that because there are so many cute crafts out there. There are so many cute ways you can use books. But with literacy based speech therapy, we are wanting our students to understand way more than just the rhyming, we want them to have the vocabulary and the exposure to inferencing. And the exposure to being able to problem solve or even relate socially emotionally.

Ashley 17:03
Even if that’s not a direct therapy goal, you’re just exposing them, why not we have why not also share that.

Kalin 17:09
So those are our four main themed episodes. But we will be listening to your feedback. So if you leave us a review, or if you reach out to us on Instagram, send us a DM, we’re going to be listening to your feedback about what else you guys want to hear about in regards to literacy based speech therapy, picture books, things like that. And then we are also hoping over time to bring on some special guests along the way, who also share a passion for literacy-based speech therapy.

Ashley 17:40
That’ll be exciting. So the last thing we wanted to do in today’s episode is to share how we pick books. So what is our criteria, our book selection process, because again, there’s so many books, and there’s a lot of cute books, a lot of cute books shared on Instagram, and a lot on, you know, you go to the library or you go to Barnes and Noble or you look on Amazon, and there’s a lot of choices.

Ashley 18:03
And and even if you have, like in my TPT store, I have our key teaching points. It’s like a book inventory, where we share like, you know, 20 books for Halloween or 20 books for spring or summer, or books about bugs or Pong. And there’s so many choices, how are you going to select the right book for your students and their goals that they’re working on. So we do have a criteria.

Ashley 18:03
And some of that criteria, one of them is it needs to have rich language, children must be exposed to quality picture books, with strong narratives, strong characters, a great structure, it’s got to be more than just a cute, like cartoon theme that maybe they see on TV.

Ashley 18:52
The other thing we look for is a strong story grammar. And I have here on my desk. It’s the school age language intervention book from Teresa Ukranitz. And she says that books should be selected based on the narrative structure and the appeal of the story. Look for stories that either present a clear central problem with multiple attempts to solve or ones that contain several problems that resolved more quickly. Interactive episodes in which one character solution becomes another problem or more challenging, but can be handled with story grammar.

Ashley 19:29
So let’s be intentional with the narrative type choices. Most of our students need help with story grammar, or the plot. The other thing we look for is it needs to be a book that’s 10 minutes or less, because our therapy sessions are often 30 minutes, 40 minutes and we have a group and it needs to be read in a short amount of time so that you can do the other post reading activities. Do you have time left over to reinforce those concepts of story?

Ashley 19:59
The other thing that we Look at as it needs to be engaging and have diverse characters. So it’s important to always think about, are the characters in the story, and are the stories, reflected of the students and their life experiences? Or does it introduce your students to new things and new concepts and new ideas? So the concept of like windows and mirrors, if you’re familiar with that, so those are like the four main ways we select books, and Kalin, you had one more thing to say.

Kalin 20:29
Another, like I mentioned a little bit before, is, a lot of you guys are seeing kids in groups. So you have a lot of different goals you’re having to address at the same time. And you also are seeing preschool kids all the way up to middle school kids. And so you want to be able to consider your ages in the goals that you were addressing when you are selecting a book. And again, finding books that make it easier on you that address majority of those goals and address kids of different age groups.

Kalin 21:10
I know a lot of you have expressed to like finding books for older kids and some books, like Bruce’s Big Storm, it can be used for upper elementary, it can also be used for LM like lower elementary and so right you can scaffold them different. Yes, totally different and the illustrations are very appropriate. So that’s another thing to keep in mind is what are you addressing, what’s your end goal and then your age groups?

Ashley 21:39
Okay, so to wrap up this episode, we’re going to celebrate the launch of the podcast by doing a giveaway. All you have to do is leave us a review on Apple podcasts. Before you submit the review, take a screenshot and send it to us in an email or DM us on Instagram. Our Instagram account is @literacybasedspeechtherapy. You can get extra entries by sharing and tagging us on Instagram as well.

Ashley 22:00
If you don’t have Apple podcasts, you can just send your review to us by email, we’re going to pick 10 people to win a $10 amazon gift card so that you can purchase books for your therapy room. The giveaway closes June 6. The details will also be shared in today’s show notes. So you can look on this app, whatever listening app you’re using, and we will share all the links and everything there too. So Kalin, what’s coming up?

Kalin 22:23
Next time, we will be discussing the why behind the literacy based approach in speech therapy. So we hope to see you guys soon.

Ashley 22:33

Ashley 22:35
We hope you enjoyed this episode. We know you’re a busy SLP so thanks for spending some of your time with us today.

Kalin 22:40
Click the description for this episode on your listening app or go to sweetsouthernspeech.com to access the show notes. We will include any links mentioned.

Ashley 22:50
And to continue the conversation come hang out with us on Instagram @literacybasedspeechtherapy, where we share lots of books to use in your therapy sessions.

Kalin 22:58
We would love to hear your thoughts on what you heard today. Please leave us a review on your listening app. We’ll catch you in the next episode.

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The Literacy-Based Speech Podcast

Do you want to use picture books more in your speech therapy sessions, but have no idea where to start? OR are you already using books in therapy but find it time-consuming to find the RIGHT book and identify relevant speech and language concepts?

You’re in the right place! The Literacy-Based Speech Podcast will help you feel confident in your book choices and instructional decisions. We’ll give you the tools you need to intentionally maximize your sessions!

Meet Your Hosts

Join co-hosts Ashley and Kalin from Sweet Southern Speech each week as they share evidence-based and SLP-approved strategies to use picture books more efficiently and effectively in your speech therapy sessions.