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Bozeman teacher and speech pathologist join up for children's book to help kids develop language skills

Posted at 7:02 AM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 10:25:37-05

A teacher at Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman and a speech pathologist joined forces on a new book to help kids develop their speech and language skills.

“The idea generated at a family tailgate, actually, and the main character, Sonny, is inspired by my lab Truman,” said Kat Bezek, a first-grade teacher at Emily Dickinson Elementary.

She is one of the authors of "Sonny Says S", a children’s book written by Bezek and her cousin, Kailey Ricker who is a speech pathologist.

“We were talking about our fields and couldn’t believe the amount of overlap with what we’re doing with my students and her clients,” said Bezek.

This is when the cousins decided to put their knowledge, skills, and background to work by developing their own brand of learning tools that align with the science of reading.

“The science of reading basically tells us how the brain learns to read,” said Bezek. “Bozeman schools have done a great job at shifting in that direction. “It includes a lot of phonics and phonemic awareness activities.”

Activities that Bezek’s students enjoy. While her students are having a blast, they’re also learning and developing their speech and language skills.

“Sonny is a super-relatable character, and he struggles with the S sound,” said Bezek. “Tons of kids can relate to that.”

Bezek says many children who have speech difficulties also have trouble learning.

“So we’re hoping to set everybody up for success by getting those sounds right,” she said.

Bezek and her cousin’s effort to strengthen children’s speech and language doesn’t end with "Sonny Says S".

“'Sonny Says S' is the first book in a series,” said Bezek. “The next book we’re going to do will be focused on the R sound, which is another common speech error.”

Their business, Yellow Finch Learning Company, creates many different learning materials to help students, teachers, speech therapists, and parents. You can learn more at their website.