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by Liliana Diaz
August 24, 2020
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have diverse teachers who came from different backgrounds. Many of my teachers were either black, Latinx, White, Asian and/or Arabic all throughout my elementary school and high school experience. Unfortunately, not many people can say they grew up having diverse teachers while in school. However, although I had many diverse teachers growing up, and as I reflect back to my childhood education, I do not recall reading stories or remembering lessons where I saw my own culture reflected upon or where I saw a mirror image of my own cultural identity being a Latina, being a Mexican-American female living on the Southside of Chicago. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you or give you an example of a book that deeply resonated with who I am because all the stories I ever read in school were about mostly white characters. At the time, I did not think much about representation in story books growing up. It wasn't a factor that bothered me growing up because I did not know better. I was not taught to question the teacher and that was the mentality that I grew up with as a kid. However, now as an adult and as I reflect upon the literature that I read growing up, I can strongly say that I believe I missed out on a lot of opportunities to learn about my own culture in the school setting. I wish I could have learned about Mexico's rich cultural history a lot sooner. I am, however, very grateful and fortunate to have two loving parents who have always taught me valuable lessons about my culture and have passed down rich Mexican traditions to me. They taught me what it means to have cultural pride. Unfortunately, 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; these are the students on our caseloads that we need to keep in mind when doing speech therapy and considering the types of materials that we are using.
The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) School of education, at the university of Wisconsin Madison, collects data on books by and about people of color. According to the CCBC, children's books depicting main characters from diverse backgrounds are lower than the number of books with main characters who are animals. The following data has been obtained from the CCBC website:
We can ensure to provide representation and inclusivity through the therapy materials that we use on a daily basis with our students. Before choosing diverse materials in therapy, there are some important points to consider when selecting the material.
Ask yourself these questions before purchasing a book or therapy material that represents a certain group of people:
As speech therapists, we are often easily influenced by the popular speech therapy books that are often talked on social media or blogs. I am guilty of using popular books like “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, if you give a mouse a cookie, etc. Don't get me wrong, these are great books that allow SLPs to target a variety of goals. However, you can also target a variety of goals with the following diverse and multi-cultural books as well. Here are my top picks for books to use in therapy as well as language goal areas that you can target with the books.
Book Title: The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Summary: This book is about being and feeling different and/or feeling like an outsider but accepting who you are and where you come from.
Speech Therapy Goal Areas:
Book Title: We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Jane Kates
Summary: This book features Sesame Street characters and people to show how we are all different but have many overall likenesses. The book demonstrates that our differences is what makes us beautiful.
Book Title: Different and the Same by Adijah & Atiya Brabham
Summary: This book is about twin sisters who explore their individuality and celebrate their sameness. The book also demonstrates different activities that make them unique.
Book Title: Black is a Rainbow Color by Angel Joy
Summary: This is a powerful book about a child who reflects on the meaning of being black and ties it to her culture and history. It is also about normalizing the word "black" and being proud of your identity.
Book Title: Mariama: Different but Just the Same by Jerónimo Cornelles
Summary: 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, the process of integration and solidarity.
Book Title: Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Summary: This book centers around the relationship between a black father and his daughter. It tells the 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.
Book Title: Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry & Jessica Curry
Summary: This book is about a little black 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, the hopes and dreams of herself in the painting of Michelle Obama. It is a very symbolic book!
Book Title: Under My Hijab by Hena Khan
Summary: This book celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who wear hijabs and provides an introduction to what a hijab is.
Book Title: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad
Summary: This is a very powerful book about a girl named Faizah on her first day of school. It's her older sister, Asiya's first day of hijab but not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah finds new ways to be strong.
Book Title: Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend by Karen Stanton
Summary: 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.
Book Title: Too Sticky, Sensory Issues with Autism by Jen Malia
Summary: This book is about a child who has autism and is dealing with sensory challenges. She receives help from her family and her teacher through accommodations and encouragement in order to participate in an activity that is difficult for her.
Book Title: Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
Summary: 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.
Book Title: What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold
Summary: This book is about a gender creative character named Riley who loves to wear whatever clothes feel right for each day. Then at the playground, the character is confronted by a kid who asks if Riley is a boy or a girl. The author doesn't assign a gendered pronoun to the character and overall the story is about normalizing the gender expressions that people can have and about being confidently nonbinary.
Book Title: ¿De Dónde Eres? / Where are you from? by Camille Saied Mendez
Summary: This book is about a girl that constantly gets asked where she is from. She seeks advice from her grandfather who provides her with a very rich explanation. The story is overall about self-acceptance and cultural identity.
Book Title: Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Summary: This book is about a little girl named Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela who believes she has too many names. Throughout the book she learns the history that she carries with her name and to be proud of her name.
Book Title: Islandborn by Junot Díaz
Summary: This book is about a little girl named Lola. She is asked at school to draw a picture of where her family immigrated from but she cannot remember because she left the Dominican Republic when she was just a baby. Her family and friends share their memories and histories, both beautiful and complex, helping Lola see that she's part of both worlds.
The list can go on and on but these are definitely some of my favorite books that I always keep on my shelf at school. What are some of your favorite diverse book titles to use in speech therapy? Comment below, I would love to know!
August 30, 2021
We Move Together is a lovely addition to your wonderful list
September 24, 2020
I recently found the book All are Welcome, which has beautiful illustrations! This rhyming and repetitive text features the themes of diversity within the school community. It is similar to the We’re Different, We’re the Same book in that the illustrations allow readers to identify how children may appear different but are similar in many ways, such as the activities they participate in.
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by Liliana Diaz
April 29, 2021
I learned several tips and other information as I began to work with an interpreter for the first time. For the very first time, I knew exactly how it felt like to be a monolingual SLP. I took this opportunity as a learning experience and reflected on how I can improve my family communication skills, cultural awareness and humility while working with these families. Continue reading to learn about some of the key points I took away while working with interpreters.
by Liliana Diaz
February 25, 2021
As speech language pathologists, we need to be able to determine exactly where our bilingual student falls on the bilingual continuum by measuring the his/her language dominance in both languages. Why is this important and how do we do this you may ask? I will answer your questions down below:
by Liliana Diaz
February 04, 2021
Welcome! I am Bilingual Speechie and this is my speech therapy blog! Here you will find bilingual (English & Spanish) resources & activities for speech language therapy! I am here to make the lives of all bilingual SLPs easier!
My name is Liliana Diaz-Vazquez and I obtained my bachelor’s degree in communication disorders in 2012 and my master’s degree in speech language pathology at Saint Xavier University in 2014.
I am a certified, licensed bilingual speech language pathologist (SLP) currently practicing in Chicago, Illinois. I have a passion with working with the bilingual population! I specialize in pediatrics with children ranging in ages from 1-18 years old and I predominantly serve bilingual and predominately Spanish-speaking students in general education programs, blended preschool programs and low-incidence programs.
I currently work full time in the public-school setting and part time in early intervention. I also run my own blog and create all sorts of bilingual resources/activities which I use with my own clients. I have extensive experience treating and evaluating a variety of disorders. I have worked with children with autism, Down syndrome, cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, apraxia, fluency disorders, language disorders and developmental delays.
My areas of expertise include augmentative/alternative communication (AAC), bilingual language development and the assessment and treatment of language delays/disorders in bilingual children.
I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) since 2014, a member of the Illinois Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) since 2014 and maintain licensure in the state of Illinois.
Aside from working with families and children, I am a part time foodie! Follow me on social media to check out all my food adventures within Chicago!