Stories for Talking   Stories for Talking . . . reviews

Review: Rachel Cross, Headteacher, Cippenham Infant School


What I love about this book is the fact that it can be used to support children with or without communication difficulties: this makes it fantastic to use with a range of children, even including your average child as a model for those children in a group who do have such difficulties. The book is aimed primarily at the Early Years Foundation Stage children and staff, but all children will benefit as a preparation for Key Stage 1 Literacy lessons, including story telling and creative writing.


The book has seven chapters covering:

  1. the structure and nature of story time

  2. the core aspects of language (very useful indeed for those who are non-specialists)

  3. supportive strategies for developing children's language

  4. a framework for developing the words involved in the core stories

  5. developing vocabulary from this point onwards - 3 levels (i) vocabulary building, (ii) building sentences, (iii) sequencing and narrative. Also included in this chapter are the Early Learning Goals covered within Stories for Talking

  6. sharing the programme with parents and carers

  7. how to make your assessments and keep appropriate records to show progress. There is a very useful l education plan (IEP) included in this chapter

The stories included in this book are

  • Dora's Eggs (topic: farm animals)

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears (topic: things in our homes)

  • Washing Line (topic: clothes)

  • The Enormous Turnip (topic: family and pets/growing)

  • Walking in the Jungle (topic: jungle animals)

Each story has a three-level development programme of language skills from introducing vocabulary, sentence and phrase construction moving on to sequencing and narrative. The work to be undertaken is written out in just the right amount of detail to ensure that even the non-specialists can carry out this programme but allows enough scope for individual interpretation. The plans are given weekly for each level, broken over a two page spread into daily activities which build on each other and including an appropriate parent/carer activity.


Having now had this book in use in my school for the last term I have seen first hand the benefits of its easy to use style on the support assistant who has been using it and on the group of children who have immensely enjoyed the sessions and have begun to talk more about the stories and are starting to put together more coherent, albeit short, sentences. The support assistant has been instrumental in providing additional resources to ensure she and the children get the most out of the activities, e.g. making a nearly full size washing machine from a box. Many of the resources have been made with the children which helps them to understand and become more involved with the stories.


For details of courses run by the author, Rebecca Bergmann, click here.

£18.50 FREE postage


Review: Nicky Middleton (2009)

This book is described as a programme to support the early development of language through storytime and is mainly aimed at early years practitioners, although childminders, parents and carers could use it as well.

It starts by explaining the difficulties some children face if they have delayed language development, even with something as simple as enjoying a story at storytime. The author, a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, sets out very clearly the different aspects of language and how best to teach a child to understand simple instructions; for example; how an adult can phrase a sentence more simply. She explains how to look for key verbs, nouns and concepts within popular children’s stories and how to present them in a way that any child can understand.

The information is set out in an easy to read format, with tables detailing various activities for presenting stories. Comprehensive weekly plans are given for five different well-known stories, which start by building basic vocabulary and eventually lead to the children making up stories of their own.

The book contains photocopiable resources for use as visual aids to support the children’s learning, illustrated by Kate Wood, a Speech and Language Therapist. All other necessary resources are listed and mostly consist of easily available items, such as toy animals or play food.

I found the book easy to understand and the instructions were all very clear. It is an excellent resource for use in any early years setting and I would recommend this book to anyone caring for a child with delayed language.

I give the book a score of 10 out of 10.

£18.50 FREE postage


Reviewed by Janet Morrison, SLT, Derbyshire County PCT in the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Bulletin 2009

This book turns around story time for young children with language difficulties. It takes what can be a confusing activity and turns it into a way of supporting language development.

Stories for Talking is a structured language programme that uses familiar children’s stories (eg, Dora’s Eggs) as the basis for a series of activities.

For each story there are three levels: teaching vocabulary, building sentences and developing sequencing and narrative skills.

Repetition is one of the key themes running through the programme, and the same story is used every day for a week, with detailed plans setting out activities for each day at the different levels.

The book provides photocopiable resources and there are also suggestions for other activities to meet Early Years Foundation Stage goals using the stories.

Aimed at Early Years practitioners, the book does not assume detailed knowledge of language development or language difficulties.

The introductory sections give some background information and the rationale for the programme in a very accessible style.

The activities are geared primarily towards children with delayed language development, although the author also recommends it for children with other communication needs.

This practical, easy to follow book would be a very useful addition to the resources of many Early Years settings.


Contents: 5/5

Readability: 5/5

Value: 5/5

£18.50 FREE postage


Reviewed by Anne Fowlie, Inclusion Consultant in Support for Learning, Vol 24, No 2, 2009

Stories for Talking is a ‘must-have’ book. Following the recent highlighting by the Bercow Report (DCSF, 2008) of significant numbers of children in England with speech, language and communication needs, this book is particularly timely. Rebecca Bergman, a specialist speech and language therapist, has designed the contents of this book to support all children, with or without communication difficulties, in their language development and within a structured format that can be easily implemented. The approach is based on the normal routine of story time, using existing staffing structures and classroom/nursery group routines. Partnership with parents and carers is also part of the programme.

The seven succinct and informative chapters cover: the timing and structure of story time; what are the important aspects of story time; a framework for developing language; the key components of developing language; delivering a staged development of language skills; sharing the process with parents and carers; and finally, assessment and record keeping, together with a sample individual education plan (IEP). This first part of the book only accounts for one quarter of the content but, at the same time, provides the reader with all the information needed to deliver the programme effectively. Also listed are the Early Learning Goals covered by this approach to story time.

The remainder of the book is devoted to a wealth of photocopiable line picture resources developed around each of five popular stories. These resources can be reproduced, coloured, laminated and used in a variety of ways. In addition, for each story there is a three-level development programme of language skills from vocabulary building, through sentence construction and on to sequencing and narrative, mapped out in detail. Finally, for each story there is a list of opportunities to generalise these language skills within the Early Years Foundation Stage. When I was a teacher in a language unit, I would have found this book invaluable. It provides the reader with all the resources, information and guidance needed to develop language skills through story time, within the one volume. I have no doubt this book will be well used by anyone who purchases it.

For details of courses run by the author, Rebecca Bergmann, click here.

£18.50 FREE postage


Reviewed by Hilary Lowne, Independent Speech & Language Therapist in Afasic News, Autumn, 2009

This is an excellent resource to use with all children in the Foundation Stage to help their attention and listening skills, understanding, using key vocabulary, putting sentences together and interacting with others. It can be easily implemented by teachers, teaching assistants, nursery nurses and parents/carers wanting to help children's receptive and expressive language skills through story time and other suggested activities.

The first part of the book provides information on the core aspects of language, strategies to support development, which words to target in sessions, identifying the level of ability and measuring progress. There is reference to target setting and a sample IEP is included.

The second part is the very structured 'Stories for Talking' approach which breaks language learning into 3 levels and relates these to specific stories:

  • Level 1 - vocabulary building

  • Level 2 - sentence construction

  • Level 3 - sequencing and narrative

Five stories are included with good photocopiable resources. Each story has a weekly plan for each level giving the resources needed and the specific activities to follow for each day. Follow-up activities can be sent home. Suggestions are also given at the end of each story on how to consolidate the relevant vocabulary, concepts and language skills within the EYFS.

Practitioners could then adapt other stories in a similar way differentiating into the various levels according to the needs of their children.


For details of courses run by the author, Rebecca Bergmann, click here.

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