SLP, Author, Advocate
I met this lovely young professional by chance at an ASHA conference a few years ago. She had a “member table” in the exhibit hall and her fabulous book titles drew me in to her booth area.
Right away, I picked up her title about stuttering (of course), and as I thumbed through the pages, I realized I was reading what I had been thinking and saying for 30+ years! THIS is how we help peers and teachers (and other stakeholders) learn about how to handle stuttering! The cherry on top is that her book also help provide an advocacy perspective for children who stutter.
So, I purchased bunches of these gems for my school district and my own practice and have been “talking them up” at presentations across the country!
In this guest blog, Eden Molineaux answers STR's questions about her products, her service and her passion!
1. What spurred you to decide to create concept books for communication disorders?
In my work with children who have communication differences, I often found myself looking for ways to support children in talking about their differences with others. This has been especially true in schools, as teachers have asked for resources to use in the classroom to support talking with peers about speech and language differences and how to be good friends and communication partners.
I felt strongly that a child’s understanding of his or her own communication strengths and needs and the ability to communicate them with others can improve experiences with interactions and build self-esteem. I had difficulty finding materials to support this, so I decided to make them myself and write the Something to Say collection.
[Titles include: Something to Say about My Speech, Something to Say about My Communication Device, Something to Say about Stuttering]
2. How did you arrive at writing a concept book about stuttering and how did the story come to your mind?
Stuttering is one of areas for which I found myself looking most often for ways to support children with self-advocacy. I also wanted to help teachers foster an understanding of this form of diversity in the classroom. In the past, I had worked together with students and teachers to create presentations for the class. These presentations went okay, but they felt a little forced. I have always loved the way children connect with and learn from books so naturally, so I set out to find children's books about stuttering.
In my search, I found books featuring characters who stuttered, but stuttering was generally referred to as something to be overcome and even "terrible." The message didn't feel empowering.
In Something to Say about Stuttering, Alex plays soccer, rides his dirt bike, and helps with his little sister. He shares what it is like for him when he stutters, as well as ways to help make communication a little easier.
3. What do you want people to know about your collection of books?
I had difficulty finding books written from the perspective of the child. This was really important to me. In the Something to Say Collection, each of the books is written from the perspective of the child who has a communication difference, rather than about the child. This provides the opportunity for the character to model language for talking about communication strengths and needs. These are strong characters talking for themselves, about themselves in positive ways.
This collection promotes self-advocacy, understanding of speech and language differences, and conversation about embracing diversity. Each book features a character with a communication difference. Characters' strengths and interests are highlighted, while the reader gains an increased understanding of how to support communication. Readers can feel a connection to the characters as they reflect on their own experiences and enjoy the sweet and colorful illustrations.
4. What are your aspirations for your stories as they reach those affected with communication issues?
My hope is that the stories help children feel empowered to see themselves represented on the pages of a book. Children with speech and language differences are underrepresented in children's literature. I also hope children will learn ways to talk about their strengths and needs and that family members and/or teachers will learn a few communication tips as they read and share the stories with children.
I also look forward to hearing about the ways in which teachers, families, and SLPs use the books to support children in ways I have not yet thought of. SLPs are an innovative bunch!
It has been exciting to see and hear the various ways in which the collection has been used so far. In the classroom, teachers and SLPs have read the books aloud to the entire class to help raise awareness about communication differences and to encourage questions and discussion about diversity.
The response from students has been heartwarming, with thoughtful questions and conversation. In therapy, the books have been used to demonstrate strong characters with speech and language differences to which children can relate and as a jumping board for discussion about a child’s communication strengths and needs.
It has been heartwarming to hear from parents who share pictures and stories of reading the Something to Say books with their children. One little girl exclaimed, “That’s just like me!”
5. What are your plans for future projects?
For now, I don't have any future projects in the works. My focus will continue to be on getting these three books out there so they can reach children and families. I have enjoyed all the learning and connecting with new people that has come with in this new endeavor!
6. Where can SLPs, parents and teachers learn more about these books?
Illustrator shout out to Nathalie Beauvois!