Picture of ten books on a wooden bookstand. Black text on a white background reads "My favourite books for Symbolic Sounds".

My Favourite Books for Symbolic Sounds

Books are a great way to target speech and language skills in Early Intervention sessions. In this post, I’m sharing ten of my favourite books for targeting symbolic sounds and exclamatory words in your Early Intervention sessions.

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On the left is a picture of 10 books on a wooekn bookstand. On the right, text reads "books are a great way to target a range of skills in Speech and Language Therapy sessions!".

What are Symbolic Sounds and Exclamatory Words?

Symbolic sounds and exclamatory words are sounds/words that are short and easy to produce. Many symbolic sounds are onomatopoeic in nature (the words imitate the sound they are representing).
Symbolic sounds include animal sounds (such as “baa” for a sheep, or “woof” for a dog), environmental sounds (such as “tick tock” for a clock, and “knock knock” when you knock on a door), and vehicle noises (“nee-naw” for an emergency vehicle, and “brum” for a car, etc.).
Some of these sounds are classed as ‘functional’ because they are associated with the object/thing that they represent, others are simply used to imitate sounds in the environment (Laing, 2014).  Similarly, exclamatory words are short, simple words, associated with an action/object (they hold meaning). 

Symbolic sounds and exclamatory words can be counted as first words, and often come before a child’s true first words. I.e., children often say “woof” before naming “dog”. So they are really important to target in your Early Intervention sessions, particularly if a child isn’t using words yet. I shared some fun ways to target Symbolic Sounds and Exclamatory Words in your EI sessions in this blog post here.

Ten of my Favourite Books for Targeting Symbolic Sounds and Exclamatory Words

I’ve put together a list of ten of my favourite books for targeting symbolic sounds and exclamatory words with toddlers and preschoolers in your EI sessions!

  1. ‘What’s That Noise? Choo Choo!’ by Child’s Play.
    I love this book for targeting vehicle sounds. You can also target “knock, knock”, “wow” and “yay” when you lift the flaps. Bonus- the flaps are large and strong, which is great for little hands!
  2. ‘Look, I’m a Lion!’ by Autumn Publishing.
    This is a fun book for targeting animal sounds. Bonus – it has a mirror which gets larger as you turn the pages, so it’s great for imitating facial expressions too!
  3. ‘Babies Laugh at Peekaboo’ by Campbell Books.
    This adorable book is great fun for targeting ‘boo’ or ‘peek-a-boo!’. You can also model words like ‘hi’, ‘bye’, and ‘yay!’ when you pull open/push close the sliders.
  4. ‘Peekaboo’ (Baby Steps) by Make Believe Ideas.
    This is another fun book for targeting ‘boo’ or ‘peek-a-boo’. It has animals in it, so you can model animal sounds. Plus, there’s a big mirror and the text encourages you to copy actions, so it’s perfect for imitating actions too!
  5. What’s That Noise? Snap Snap!’ by Child’s Play.
    This book is good for modelling animal sounds, specifically wild animals. It has big flaps like the vehicle version too, so you can model “knock, knock”, “wow” and “yay” when you lift the flaps.
  6. ‘Let’s Go Puppy’ by Ninewise Publishing.
    This book was written by Holly Rosensweig, an American Speech-Language Pathologist. It is specifically designed to target symbolic sounds, exclamatory words, and first words. It is fun, engaging, and provides lots of opportunity for repetition. A must have for all EI SLPs/SLTs IMO.
  7. ‘Clap Hands’ by Helen Oxenbury and
  8. ‘Bouncing Babies’ by Helen Oxenbury. This book is now called ‘All Fall Down’.
    Both of these books were firm favourites when my son was little. The pictures are full of opportunities for modelling symbolic sounds and exclamatory words from the pictures, such as “uh oh”, “yum”, “mmm”, “haha”, “yay”, etc.
  9. ‘Wishy Washy’ by Tabitha Page.
    This beautiful book was written and illustrated by Tabitha Page, she’s a former SLP and watercolour artist. This book is great for modelling symbolic sounds, exclamatory words, and first words. You can talk about the pictures and model actions alongside too.
  10. ‘Moo, Baa, La La, La’ by Sandra Boynton.
    This book is funny and engaging for little ones. Perfect for modelling animal sounds- mainly farm animals. You can also model ‘no, no, no!’ and ‘la, la, la!’.

If you’re wanting more books for symbolic sounds and exclamatory words, I’ve gathered together a huge range in my Amazon storefront. You can check them out here.

Text reads "Books with flaps provide even more opportunities for modelling symbolic sounds and exclamatory words- "knock, knock, yay, hi, bye, wow!". On the right is a picture of the 'What's that Noise? Choo Choo' book partly open.

Three Quick Tips for Reading Books with Young Children

When reading books with toddlers and young children, you don’t need to read all the words– you can draw the child’s attention to the pictures and model relevant sounds and words.

Follow the child’s lead while reading– model sounds, actions, and words that are relevant to what they’re looking at. These will hold more meaning for them. Similarly, if they’re not showing much interest in the book, that’s OK too. Don’t force them to stay, instead, follow what they are interested in and model symbolic sounds and exclamatory words while they play instead!

Be sure to have fun when reading too. Exaggerate the sounds and actions; vary the volume, and repeat them. Children often find this funny and it helps keep them engaged.

Text on the right reads "When modelling these sounds it helps to be silly and have fun!

Exaggerate the sounds and your actions. Children find it funny & it keeps them engaged!". On the right are two pictrues of children books.

If you want more ideas for reading with toddlers, check out this blog post for more ideas and tips for reading books with young children.

I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful! Do you have any other favourite books for symbolic sounds and exclamatory words? Share them in the comments!

Disclaimer- List not sponsored by any of the publishers or authors tagged. I was previously gifted a copy of ‘Let’s Go Puppy’ and ‘Wishy Washy’ by their authors, but there was no obligation to post or share about them. Their inclusion in this list is because they are great for modelling symbolic sounds and exclamatory words, not because they were gifted.