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The ABCs of Language Development book

As a scientist and now a grandmother, I will be recommending this book!

- Professor Helen Burt, O.C., UBC Associate Vice-President, Research & Innovation

Written for parents, caregivers, educators, and anyone who supports families and children, The ABCs of Language Development: Discover Language With Your Child provides cutting edge research findings and “how to" practical strategies to support the communication and language development of all children, organized in an A-B-C format.

Click here to read sample chapters!

Produced by KidCareCanada and co-written by Dr. Carla Hudson Kam (2010-2020 Canada Research Chair in Language Acquisition), Caitlin Bittman (Speech-Language Pathologist), Estelle Paget (founder of KidCareCanada), and Elizabeth Wellburn (KidCareCanada), this book will be available through UBC Language Sciences. 

This book is available for $27.95 plus shipping. Please note: we want this book in the hands of those who need it. We're happy to work with families and organizations on a one-to-one basis to accommodate pricing - please feel free to email us to enquire at language.sciences@ubc.ca.

Note: If your agency receives funding from a municipal, regional, provincial and/or federal source, you may qualify to become a customer of Crown Publishing and be eligible for municipalities, universities (colleges), schools and hospitals pricing. Please click here for more information.

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Want to find out more? Click here to read some FAQs!

What is The ABCs of Language Development?

In this book, you will find trustworthy information and practical strategies you can use to support the communication and language development of all children.

This accessible book provides both cutting-edge research findings and 'how to' tips – practical strategies for parents, educators, and the general public. Language development is discussed from its initial foundations in infancy through the multiple stages and milestones children achieve, showing the link between language acquisition and later literacy (often called a “pre-literacy” approach). Moreover, language development is situated exactly where it belongs – in the emotionally supportive everyday interactions infants and children have with their caregivers. 

This book is realistic in recognizing the difference between what might be ideal and what is reasonably possible.The authors understand and acknowledge that while ‘turn-taking’ and contingent responsiveness encourage communicative, development, no parent can engage in communicatively responsive interactions with an infant every minute of the day. Similarly, while face-to-face interaction better supports language acquisition than does screen time, most families will allow their children to interact with screens. So, the book shares the latest research on how screen time can be most effectively used. The ABC’s of Language Development: Discover Language with Your Child shares the science and provides suggested activities, but it is not proscriptive or judgmental. Instead, it helps parents and educators negotiate what kinds of compromises to make and when, and how to still be confident they are doing a good job

Who is this book for? 

This book is for ALL caregivers who help to raise young children. You may be a parent, a relative, a member of the community or a health or educational professional. If you interact with a child, this book is for you. You will notice that the book uses the shorthand 'parent' to refer to any adult who plays an important role in a child’s life.

What age is this book for?

​This book is most useful for children who are younger, specifically, pre-school age, from 0 to 4 or 5 years old, as that way the caregiver can get the most out of it. But it does have content that is useful for younger school aged children as well, including the sections on heritage language, book reading, and conversation. 

How do you use it?

There is no 'wrong' way to use this book!  Each ABC topic is divided into two sections:

  • 'What the Science Tells Us' (blue bordered pages) provides an overview of current research related to that ABC topic, usually from four perspectives: Language Acquisition; Speech-language Pathology; Social and Emotional Development; Pre-literacy. If you are a health professional or an educator you may find these science sections especially helpful.
  • 'What You Can Do' provides many practical and easy-to-follow strategies to try out. These are based on the same four disciplines.

You can:

  • Choose an ABC topic, focus on it for a few days, try out the examples and create your own, based on what works for you, and then observe any changes
  • Use the photos, the captions you see on them, and any of the images to 'read' this book with your child

The idea of sitting down to read a book on language development from cover to cover is daunting at the best of times, and unlikely to be an activity a busy parent can complete. Instead, The ABC’s of Language Development: Discover Language with Your Child is designed to be used over time. A busy parent or educator can open the book to any letter of the alphabet and delve into that topic alone. Or, if just wanting 'how to' tips that day, you can skip around – selecting topics that are most relevant to their issues at hand and focus on the 'What You Can Do' practical strategies. Alternatively, one can focus on the 'What the Science Tells Us' sections, because the science is accurate and up to date. This 'buffet' of possibilities allows each reader to interact with and learn from the book in a way that is most beneficial (and most delicious) to them.

Will there be an ebook?

Yes! We're working on creating an EPUB and a PDF, both of which will be available for free on this website. We're hoping to have these ready by September 2021.

Is the book available in other languages?

Not yet, but we would love to see it translated into other languages, including French, Chinese, and Punjabi, and this is one of our fundraising goals. If you would like to help us with this, or even donate towards this project, please contact us at language.sciences@ubc.ca.

We would also like to create a culturally appropriate version of the book, or perhaps another companion document, for Indigenous communities in Canada. If you have any advice or suggestions, or would be interested in partnering with us on this, please contact us at language.sciences@ubc.ca.

We would love to hear how you've found the book - how did you use it? Did you notice a difference in your child's language development? What is your favourite part of the book? Review the book here:

Review the book

My Child Needs Extra Communication Support: A Companion Document

This free document expands on two sections, “Delay” and “When and How to Seek Help,” found in the ABCs of Language Development book and provides background information and terminology to introduce you to what you may encounter when you meet your child’s speech-language pathologist. It is not a replacement for seeking out professional help that is specific to your child’s needs. Click on the image below to view the document. This document is posted with permission from Caitlin Bittman.

Click here for the Companion Document

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