Building Vocabulary Through Children's Picture Books




Course Type


With respect to vocabulary skills, it is necessary that speech-language therapy services focus on academically relevant vocabulary targets and skills to ensure that the services provided directly affect the student's ability to successfully comprehend teacher instruction and academic texts and to effectively communicate knowledge of academic content in the regular education curriculum. 

This online course will provide participants with a rationale for addressing vocabulary skills through children's picture books. Research on vocabulary development, the effects of early vocabulary deficits on later academic success, and the components of effective vocabulary training will be reviewed. Reasons for incorporating children's literature into treatment activities rather than relying on drill-based activities will be provided.

Participants will learn how to identify children's picture books which can be effectively utilized in individual, small-group, and inclusion-based therapy services by considering factors such as relevance to academic content, student background knowledge strengths and needs, student interests, engaging themes, length of the book, and other factors. Procedures for implementing shared book reading activities to introduce vocabulary targets will be described.

Vocabulary targets and skills as identified in the Common Core State Standards for language in Kindergarten through fifth grade will be reviewed. Target vocabulary skills include expressing words in sentences and conversation, defining, describing, comparing/contrasting, categorizing words, making word associations, understanding and using affixes, making real-life connections with words, distinguishing between shades of meaning, and understanding and expressing figurative language.

Resources for identifying potential vocabulary targets across a variety of grade levels will be identified. These resources include grade-based word lists, academic word lists, lists of character traits and emotional states, signal words, and curriculum materials. Participants will then be shown how to analyze a picture book to identify relevant vocabulary targets found in the text or related to the text using the resources listed.

Participants will learn how to develop word learning stimuli to assist students to develop deeper word meaning knowledge through treatment activities. Example word-knowledge and word-use scoring rubrics will be shared to assist participants to assess and build deeper word knowledge and more sophisticated expression skills with vocabulary targets.  Tools and strategies for developing therapy materials including flashcards, mini books, word puzzles, word games, and discussion activities will be shared. Offered for 0.2 ASHA CEUs – 2 contact hours. 

Run Time: 2:16:08

Course Overview:

  • Part 1 & 2: Rationale For Using Books in Vocabulary Treatment & Choosing Books
  • Part 3: Choosing Vocabulary Targets
  • Part 4: Developing Treatment Stimuli
  • Part 5: Developing Treatment Activities
  • Part 6: Documenting Progress & Summary

The content of this online CE course does not focus exclusively on any specific proprietary product or service. Presenter financial and non-financial disclosures may be found in the Presenter & Disclosures area.

Course Format:

Video PowerPoint presentation with author narration & downloadable handout.

Course Objectives

  1. State reasons for using children's literature to treat vocabulary deficits.
  2. Select picture books and vocabulary targets that are appropriate for the student's
    academic level and vocabulary needs.
  3. Design and implement therapy activities based on children's literature.

Presenter & Disclosures

Jennifer L. Schultz, MA, CCC-SLP, is an instructor for the online Speech-Language Pathology Assistant program at Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, SD. Prior to this, she was a clinical speech-language pathologist, with 9 years of experience in an inpatient rehabilitation setting and 12 years in an education setting, serving children ages 0 – 21. Jennifer has a particular interest in the treatment of language disorders in school-age children. She has presented numerous workshops on vocabulary instruction, using books in therapy, and skill-based language assessment. Jennifer is a past member of the ASHA SLP Advisory Council and past president of the South Dakota Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is the author of the "Skill-Based Assessment of Core Communication Skills."

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial — Jennifer Schultz is a presenter of online CE courses offered by Northern Speech Services; receives royalties.

Nonfinancial — Jennifer Schultz is a past member of the ASHA SLP Advisory Council.

Intended Audience/Accreditation

This program is offered for 0.2 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate Level; Professional Area).

Intended Audience

  • SLP
  • Educ/Teach

ASHA CEUs: NSS online courses are registered with ASHA and are offered for ASHA CEUs. The number of ASHA CEUs is noted above. Note that 0.1 ASHA CEU = 1 contact hour = equals 1 CEE.

ASHA CE Registry: During the enrollment process, if you select to receive ASHA credit for this course and if you provide your ASHA number, NSS will automatically submit your CEU information to the ASHA CE Registry after successful course completion (80% on post test). This submission happens once per month, during the first week of the month. For example, if you complete your course on November 7th, NSS will submit all November online course CEUs to ASHA during the first week of December. When ASHA inputs the information into their database, they will mark the course as completed on the last day of the month in which it was completed, so November 30th using this example. The certificate of completion available for you to print immediately, however, will reflect the actual completion date, November 7th in this example. Due to ASHA processing procedures please allow 2-3 weeks, from the submission date, for the course to appear on your ASHA transcript.

ASHA CEUs: Attendees must meet at least one of the following conditions in order to be eligible to earn ASHA CEUs:

  • Current ASHA Member
  • ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) Holder
  • Licensed by a state or provincial regulatory agency to practice speech-language pathology (SLP) or audiology
  • Credentialed by a state regulatory agency to practice SLP or audiology
  • Credentialed by a national regulatory agency to practice SLP or audiology
  • Engaged in a Clinical Fellowship under the supervision of an individual with their ASHA CCC
  • Currently enrolled in a masters or doctoral program in SLP or audiology

If an attendee is not an ASHA member or CCC holder but meets any of the above criteria, they may inform the ASHA CE Registry of their eligibility by visiting this site.

Licensing Boards: Most state licensing boards DO accept CEUs earned online (usually classified as home-study credits). Some state boards do, however, place a limit to the number of credits that can be earned via home study/online courses. For the most current information, we suggest that you contact your licensing board or agency to verify acceptance policies and/or any credit limits related to home-study courses prior to registering for this course.

Additional accrediting agencies by which Northern Speech is an approved CE provider:

  • California: NSS is approved as a provider of continuing education by the California Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology Board. Provider #PDP4. Online CEU limits may apply; please contact SLPAHADB for current online CEU acceptance policies.
  • Iowa: NSS is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Iowa Board of Speech Pathology and Audiology Examiners. Provider #169.
  • Kansas: NSS is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Provider #LTS-S0005.
  • Florida: NSS is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board. Provider #SPA-026.
  • New Jersey: NSS is approved as a provider of continuing education by the New Jersey Department of Education. Provider #1654.

Frequently Asked Questions

Customer Support: Please phone 888.337.3866 or email

Course Completion Timeframe:

You have unlimited time to complete our online courses. You may log off and log on as often as you’d like to in order to complete all sections of a course.

However, completion dates are based on Eastern Standard Time. Therefore, if you need your CEUs by a certain date, be sure to complete the course test before 11:59pm EST on that date. For example, if you need CEUs before January 1st, you will need to complete the course test before 11:59pm EST on December 31st.

Content Access:

Access to course materials and content does not expire, even after completing the post test. You may continue to review course material by logging into your NSS account, clicking the My Online Courses tab, and then viewing your desired course.

Certificate of Completion:

On successful completion of the post test (80%), a certificate will be immediately available for download and/or printing. This certificate will include your name, date of completion (based on Eastern Time Zone, USA/Canada), and number of contact hours (CEUs / CEEs). Please note that CEUs are awarded on the date of successful test completion, not the date of course enrollment. Please ensure that you successfully complete the post test prior to any licensure renewal dates.

ASHA CE Registry Submission:

During the enrollment process, if you select to receive ASHA credit for this course and if you provide your ASHA number, NSS will automatically submit your CEU information to the ASHA CE Registry after successful course completion (80% on post test). This submission happens once per month, during the first week of the month. For example, if you complete your course on November 7th, NSS will submit all November online course CEUs to ASHA during the first week of December. When ASHA inputs the information into their database, they will mark the course as completed on the last day of the month in which it was completed, so November 30th using this example. The certificate of completion available for you to print immediately, however, will reflect the actual completion date, November 7th in this example. Due to ASHA processing procedures please allow 2-3 weeks, from the submission date, for the course to appear on your ASHA transcript.

Purchase Orders:

Purchase orders are NOT accepted when registering for online courses. Payment must be made online in the form of a credit or debit card payment.

What is an Online Course?

Our Online Courses consist of video, audio, and/or text content and are offered for ASHA CEUs. Unlike a webinar, which requires participants to be logged on and at a computer at specific times, our Online Courses are available to you at any time, from any device, via your online account. You may work at your own pace and start and stop your course as you wish. Your course will conclude with a short post test. On successful completion of the post test (>80%), a printable certificate of completion is presented to you.

Receiving CEUs:

Northern Speech is an ASHA CE Provider and our online courses are registered with ASHA and offered for ASHA CEUs. Please note that successful completion of the online post test is required prior to the awarding of CEUs. Please contact your state licensing board for acceptance policies related to CEUs earned online.

Registering for an online course:

You may browse all online courses by clicking the Continuing Education tab above, then Online Courses. Once you find a course, click Enroll Now, and you will be asked to either log into your existing Northern Speech account or create a new online account. Once you’ve entered your account information and provided your credit card payment, your course will be immediately available to you.

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You will be able to access your online course by logging into your Northern Speech account and then clicking the My Online Courses tab on your profile screen. Click the course you would like to start or to resume. From there, proceed through the course sections until you are ready to complete the post test. You do not have to complete your course all at once. You may log on and off as you wish.

Testing requirements:

Each online course concludes with a post test consisting of multiple choice or true & false questions. Scores of 80% or greater are required for successful course completion and awarding of CEUs. You may revisit course materials and retest as needed to achieve a passing score.

Number of CEUs offered:

We offer courses from 1 to 21 contact hours. Each course will note the number of CEUs offered. Please note that 0.1 CEU = 1 contact hour = 1 CEE.

State licensing boards and online CEUs:

NSS is an ASHA CE Provider and most state licensing boards DO accept ASHA CEUs earned online (usually classified as home-study credits). Some boards do, however, place a limit to the number of CEUs that can be earned via home study/online courses. For the most current information, we suggest that you contact your licensing board or agency to verify acceptance policies and/or any CEU limits related to home-study courses prior to enrolling in an online course.

Course formats:

Our course formats include: text, audio, video, and PowerPoint with author narration. Each course will note the format on the course description page.

Course handouts:

Most of our online courses provide a link to download the accompanying handout as a PDF file. 

Group discounts:

Groups of 3 or more are eligible for a 20% discount on each registration on most of our online courses. To receive this discount, registrations need to be processed together via the "Group Rates" tab on the Online Course of your choice.

Computer requirements:

For our online courses to function best, we recommend that you update your computer to include the newest version of your Internet browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, etc.) and newest version of your computer's operating system. Also a high-speed Internet connection is recommended (cable or DSL). Speakers or headphones will be required for many of our courses as many contain audio components.

Course Cancellation Policy:

A purchased online course can be exchanged, refunded, or transferred to another individual if contact is made with NSS (via phone or email) within 30 days of purchase and the course materials have not been viewed or downloaded. 

Special Needs:

Please click here for any special needs requests and we will do our best to accommodate them.

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"I liked the plethora of resources - all the lists and resources, the videos of treatments, the procedures to help us implement this way of working." – S.C. (Apr. 2020)

"Identifying which vocabulary words to use was most beneficial." – K.B. (Mar. 2020)

"I appreciated the discussion on using books in therapy. I liked that the course was easy to follow and understand." – S.P. (Jan. 2020)

"I enjoyed the information about documenting progress provided at the end of the course and the videos of client sessions." – J.W. (Dec. 2019)

"Great presentation! I liked the resources and references to tie into my program." – M.J. (Nov. 2019)

"The most beneficial parts were the chart for organizing and elaborating on chosen vocabulary words prior to therapy session as well as the therapy examples for how to use the word in a variety of ways. It was so applicable to my clinical practice!! It could have had a bit more visuals, but otherwise, I think it was great. :) " – A.C. (Nov. 2019)

"Very thorough reasoning behind vocabulary selections and extremely helpful therapy suggestions. I found the information about how to select vocabulary words as well as the practical examples of how to teach the vocabulary words very useful. Great course!" – C.A. (Oct. 2019)

"I liked the practical ideas that I can implement immediately with little prep. The portion on developing vocabulary targets and how to actually teach meanings through initial exposure to follow-up activities were most beneficial." – K.S. (Sept. 2019)

"Wonderful examples and resources provided. Great examples of using vocabulary teaching techniques, excellent evidence-based research to justify decision making." – R.B. (Aug. 2019)

"I was very impressed with all of the course outline areas for Building Vocabulary through Children's Picture Books. The presenter showed a true passion for her work. I liked everything and thought it flowed nicely." – P.L. (July 2019)

"I appreciated the specific ways to measure student growth as well as ways to be sure vocabulary choices are appropriate are the most helpful pieces of this course for me." – S.O. (June 2019)

"I am happy to see the use of picture books in therapy be a highlighted topic as I have been teaching my grad students this for years. Good flow and interest level." – S.F. (May 2019)

"I liked the discussion/topic about how to go about choosing books for your students. Very useful, practical information that I can use with my students immediately." – L.S. (May 2019)

"I really liked the portion that talked about how to select books/vocabulary and gave wonderful easy-to-use resources to help with these. I liked the real-life tools and resources. I would have liked to see example IEP goals or what would be written on the IEPs that she was covering with this therapy. I struggle with how to translate this therapy practice into an IEP goal." – S.F. (Apr. 2019)

"The portion on reading levels and also the rubrics were most beneficial. I enjoyed the videos of the last section that showed how they implement what they were teaching." – A.J. (Feb. 2019)

"I gained a deeper understanding of student friendly definitions to be utilized with students. I liked the inclusion of the children's books that were used in conjunction with the discussion." – A.M. (Jan. 2019)

"I benefited most form the direct examples and disucssions regarding practical implementation as it relates to common core standards. I like the specific examples of activities and materials I may find beneficial for my students." – M.D.C. (Jan. 2019)

"I loved the way she broke down vocabulary instruction and gave very good examples of each part. I also loved the amount of examples of therapy activities that were included. I enjoyed the whole course." – G.B. (Dec. 2018)

"I liked the new techniques for teaching vocabulary and how to use them in therapy." – A.R. (Nov. 2018)

"I appreciated the resources provided by the presenter. I liked the videos of the presenter implementing vocabulary strategies." – J.O. (Oct. 2018)

"I liked that it is something I can use in my daily practice to make learning vocabulary more interesting (hopefully) so the students will generalize the new words they have acquired. I enjoyed and found helpful the video clips. More of them would have been useful." – K.C. (Oct. 2018)

"The instructor was very clear and concise in her delivery. Her slides provided a wealth of information which I know I will be using in my therapy planning. Having a list of appropriate picture books with accompanying examples shown on video was very useful." – P.E. (Sept. 2018)

"I loved all the resources Jennifer provided, and I am excited to get some of these books for my therapy sesions. I thought the course was just perfect." – P.B. (Aug. 2018)

"All the resources she provided are exceptional. Going over how to identify your vocabulary targets with all the different resources was most helpful. I loved the video presentations. It was helpful to see the interaction." – K.B. (July 2018)

"Really this whole presentation was one of the best on this topic that I have seen. It was VERY thorough and contained every aspect that I would have had questions about in a live setting. The entire presentation was just wonderful!!!" – S.B. (June 2018)

"The course provided great ideas when introducing vocabulary. I can apply these ideas when working with my ADHD/OCD kiddos who try to gain meaning from the pictures not the words of the story (i.e., not showing the picture until they have answered the simple questions and defined words not previously known)." – A.S. (May 2018)

"The course provided great video example resources.  I enjoyed the discussion of choosing vocabulary topics and developing treatment stimuli the most." – J.H. (May 2018)

"The importance and relevance of Tier 2 words in children's books was very interesting. All of the information in this course was helpful and applicable to daily therapy sessions. There were many key ways to naturally expand a student's vocabulary and get them excited about reading." – A.C. (Apr. 2018)

"I appreciated the references for choosing books for reading levels (lexical, scholastic, etc) and academic word lists. The course has numerous ideas with corresponding websites that will make it easy to implement in therapy." – C.S. (Mar. 2018)

"I think that this online course was great. I liked the use of rubrics and how to choose the words to target as well as the examples. Those really helped me to be able to utilize and understand the concepts." – C.D. (Jan. 2018)

"The presenter's voice was clear, and the progression of thought was easy to absorb. I also appreciated the inclusion of video examples of therapy for clarification as well as variety. The website referrals and lots of specific tips for teaching vocabulary, some of which can be applied to accent reduction and second language learning, were most beneficial." – C.B. (Dec. 2017)

"The discussions on determining vocabulary targets and therapy progress rubrics were most beneficial. I liked the Reference source information and clear precise outlines with examples." – D.L. (Dec. 2017)

"The examples of how to build vocabulary in an evidence-based way is helpful. This course was easy to access and had a great quality of instruction." – K.V. (Nov. 2017)

"I already use picture books frequently, so it was nice to hear the evidence behind their use. I also found it helpful to learn how many exposures children need to learn a word. I liked the specific examples and explanations of how to choose words and activities. I would have liked to hear some information specifically about using this method with preschool students." – A.G. (Nov. 2017)

"I appreciated the specific strategies to target vocabulary (e.g., mini-books). I really enjoyed the handouts, rubrics, and data pertaining to vocabulary acquisition within each grade level." – L.S. (Oct. 2017)

"All areas were very beneficial. I like the organization of content and systematic steps shown to select vocabulary and implement instruction." – J.N. (Oct. 2017)

"I always appreciate practical therapy techniques, and I learned quite a few that I had not been doing but would be beneficial to my students. The rubric and charts were especially helpful." – C.P. (Oct. 2017)

"The best discussion was how to choose target vocabulary words and ideas on how to work on them during treatment. I also liked seeing how the presenter documented progress using the rubric." – A.M. (Sept. 2017)

"Great discussion of evidence base and about choosing vocab targets and treatment stimuli. Great, enjoyable, and meaningful contexts for building vocabulary that is relevant at various ages." – K.C. (Aug. 2017)

"I truly enjoyed this presentation and the way she laid out effective ways to build vocabulary through picture books - with a helpful handout and great references. It was so nicely organized and easy to understand - excellent presentation. It went beyond my expectations - I can't wait to implement some of these ideas in September." – C.B. (Aug. 2017)

"So much relevant and useful info. Appreciated links to websites to help generate word lists and suggested sites providing free resources that support therapy planning (word scrambles). Videos were helpful as well." – L.F. (July 2017)

"I appreciated the relation to Common Core Standards and how easy the course was to follow." – S.C. (Mar. 2017)

"The entire course was beneficial. I learned information in choosing books, choosing target vocabulary, and developing stimuli sections." – P.C. (Feb. 2017)

"I found the discussion of how to choose vocabulary targets very beneficial. The presenter organized the information very well and was clear in her sequence of teaching." – S.N. (Dec. 2016)

"I appreciated going over the number of exposures a student needs to learn new vocabulary. I like the number of functional resources." – J.M. (Dec. 2016)

"I really enjoyed all the different ideas introduced in the course. I liked the examples brought out through the sample picture book pages." – C.S. (Dec. 2016)

"I really liked that this course took what I am already doing and gave information to make it better! I liked all of the resources provided and the examples given. It also provided information to use to support the idea of high quality." – V.T. (Dec. 2016)

"Using the various rubrics for documenting progress and using the Vocabulary Stimuli Chart for planning were the most beneficial. I liked her voice and her videos as well as her excellent handouts and resources." – L.H. (Nov. 2016)

"The discussion of research-based techniques to choose vocabulary was most helpful. I liked the resources and presenter's explanations." – R.S. (Nov. 2016)

"The Reading Level references will be extremely helpful in choosing books. It can be so difficult to choose appropriate targets and so easy to fall back on Tier 1 vocabulary rather than continuing to increase the difficulty level. The resources and references will be very helpful in my practice." – A.S. (Nov. 2016)

"I liked all of the hands-on examples and additional resources (e.g. word lists, websites) that were provided." – A.C. (Oct. 2016)

"There were many things I found beneficial, but I particularly liked the specific resources mentioned throughout, such as the Scholastic resources, the Marzano grade-level word lists, Academic Word Lists, sample rubrics, etc. I liked that it had a nice balance of information and examples and the information was very practical and applicable." – P.H. (Oct. 2016)

"Lots of great resources. Very front line therapist friendly. I would definitely recommend this course." – L.M. (Sept. 2016)

"I liked that a lot of the options and "extra" things were free online resources that everyone can utilize. Books are free or cheap to buy and use and this helped guide how to better build vocabulary through the use of them." – H.S. (Aug. 2016)

"Well-organized, easy to follow. Liked inclusion of resources and video clips. Would have liked more info targeting preschoolers." – L.F. (Aug. 2016)

"I found both the topic and presenter to be very engaging. I liked the video demonstrations as well as therapy ideas." – J.S. (July 2016)

"The most useful information were the example rubrics given to help measure progress." – S.R. (June 2016)

"Enjoyed seeing real life examples of techniques used during actual treatment sessions. Would have liked to see more examples of use with younger students." – K.B. (June 2016)

"I enjoyed the fact that this course provided me with a variety of activities to add to my therapy toolbox. This course provided me with a lot of good information that I will actually use." – S.K. (May 2016)

"It was all very beneficial to my practice, but I think the explanation of how to choose vocabulary targets was the most helpful." – L.S.M. (Apr. 2016)

"I think the information regarding character traits and emotions is an important aspect in choosing words; I'm not sure I always remember to give those words enough focus." – K.C. (Mar. 2016)

"I liked the practical strategies with real life examples that can be implemented easily into therapy sessions." – K.M. (Feb. 2016)

"I loved this presentation." – R.P. (Jan. 2016)

"The discussion on Tier 2 words and Reading Level info was really beneficial." – M.S. (Jan. 2016)

"I liked the video clip examples with students and the treatment targets." – S.R. (Jan. 2016)

"The entire course was extremely beneficial. I look forward to adopting this style into my therapy." – K.T. (Jan. 2016)

"The instructional sequence with video examples was really helpful." – K.A. (Jan. 2016)

"The discussion on implementation into therapy was very useful. I liked the resources provided. However, I expected coverage on what a specific goal (e.g., IEP goal) might look like regarding teaching vocabulary." – A.P. (Jan. 2016)

"I liked the examples of therapy sessions." – D.C. (Jan. 2016)