First Books and Early Language Development

Jo Burnell (in KBR) treats us to this amazing post on the correlation between early language development and choosing first books for your child. Jo is an experienced paediatric speech pathologist with a passion for books.

‘What’s the point of all this alliteration business, anyway, and why do we bother to make things rhyme?’

This comment by a fellow writer took me by surprise. I had no idea that the links between normal language development and our writing techniques were not common knowledge.

Matching your writing techniques to the developmental skills of your target age group is a key to winning children over. It’s what makes children’s eyes widen with delight and lures them back for more. When a toddler is working hard at combining two words, their favourite books inevitably model how this is done.

As a speech pathologist who has helped children with communication difficulties for more than twenty-five years, it’s hard to know where to begin. Instead of presenting a mini-thesis, I’ll try to summarise some key points about normal patterns of language development and link these landmarks to how we write for children.

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