Story books. Over the five years I have been practicing music therapy, every time I see a storybook that I think I can use or adapt for my sessions, I grab it without thinking. I love to use books in my sessions not only because reading is incredibly important, but also because books can be used to address multiple domains. Some of the domains that I can focus on with books include receptive and expressive language skills, developing communication skills, social skills, improving cognition, academic concepts, and reading skills. So, what books do I use in MUSIC therapy? Of course there are the music therapy standards like Raffi’s Wheels on the Bus and Down By the Bay, but lately I have found myself creating melodies to accompany books by Dr. Suess and other fun authors. Here are just a few books, with the accompanying music, that I have adapted for my sessions.
1. Giraffe’s Can’t Dance By: Giles Andreae & Guy Parker
This is a wonderful story that addresses:
• Social skills (ask your child questions about how they would feel if they were Gerald)
• Receptive and expressive language skills
• Can later be adapted & used as a songwriting or expressive movement activity. (encourage your child to find or make music that they love and create a dance to go along with their own music)
2. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? By: Dr. Suess
This story is super fun to use when addressing the following domains:
• Developing early sounds (I use this as a call and response vocal play activity)
• Improving Cognition (identifying sounds that animals or everyday objects make)
• Expressive language skills (encourage your child to be silly as they sing back all the sounds they hear in the book) 3. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb By: Al Perkins
Domains this story addresses include:
• Developing early sounds
• Improving clarity of articulation through drumming and singing/chant (have them tap or clap out the syllables to the reoccurring phrase “dum ditty, dum, dum, dum”)
• Improving hand eye coordination (I use drums to focus on this skill)
• Receptive language skills (I have my kiddos play a drum every time they hear the words “Dum ditty, dum, dum, dum.”)
4. Listen to My Trumpet By: Mo Willems
Although I don’t sing this story, it is still a fabulous book that addresses the following domains.
• Improving social skills
• Introduces the concept of inferencing and reading social cues (ask your child how each character feels based on their responses and facial expressions)
• Reading skills
• Receptive language skills
• Improving expressing language skills (encourage your child to think of different ways to talk to someone while being aware and conscious of others’ feelings)
Have fun as you sing these fun stories! Also, feel free to ask questions in the comments section for more ideas on how I use these books in my practice and how they can be used at home!