This third edition of my interview with speech/language authors is a very special one for all SLP authors and wanna-be authors. So many SLPs understand the importance of storybook therapy. Tali Kellerstein has gone a step further and has created hands-on activities based on her storybook, Party Animals. She also co-admins the popular FB page, SLP by Day Author by Night.

  1. Please give us a little background on how you began your storybook writing. Did you self-publish or go traditional?

Prior to becoming an S-LP, I completed an MA in English literature. I enjoyed writing and had considered following that path professionally. I opted for a career in S-LP instead. My first job after graduating was at The Toronto Children’s Centre (now known as The Speech and Stuttering Institute) where we used a heavily literacy-based approach to intervention. This neatly married my passions and interests. Seeing the richness picture books offered in terms of therapy application along with my love of picture books in general, inspired me to create Party Animals! which I self-published. 

2. Do you use your book in therapy and what goals do you address with the story?

All the time! Yes – Party Animals is a collection of 21 poems. Each poem highlights a different consonant and tells a small story through the illustrations. I am most often using Party Animals to target specific speech sounds (e.g. Roadtrip Raccoon for /ɹ/ for City Seagull for /s/, Lemonade Llama for /l/ etc.) However, I also use the Party Animals! for language targets, often verb conjugation and practice of pronouns. (In these cases, I largely ignore the text and describe the images in the book.)

3. Why use animals in your book? Do you feel like children relate better to animals?

I sought a way to bring each sound to life in an engaging way for children, and animals provided a dynamic array of characters from which to choose. That children are often very naturally intrigued by animals also reinforced the decision! 

4. You have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a game that accompanies your book. This is a double-loaded question as I think SLPs and teachers could benefit from seeing how the accompanying game can facilitate additional learning.

It’s my first Kickstarter, and it’s very exciting! The Kickstarter campaign is for my game Party Time Bingo – that can function as a stand-alone game, or extend/complement Party Animals! Board games – like picture books – provide an incredibly robust and motivating context for learning. I get great satisfaction from games that pair well with the picture books I’m using because it makes lesson planning seamless. Party Time Bingo compliments Party Animals! with so much teaching/therapy potential embedded. From a speech-alone perspective, the pair easily address 21 potential sessions.

Yes! We just launched our first Kickstarter for Party Time Bingo which is a game that can function as a stand-alone game, or extend/complement Party Animals!  

5. The second part of the question could help some of those who are looking to write a book how a Kickstarter campaign can help. What are benefits of a Kickstarter? What is the process of a Kickstarter?

For those unfamiliar with the platform, Kickstarter allows customers to pre-purchase a product that has not yet been manufactured. Buyers get the products right out the gate and typically at a lower cost than retail. For a small independent publisher like myself, this is invaluable as printing and shipping costs are exorbitant, and having pre-sales increases the likelihood of innovative independent creations coming to life.  Kickstarter has been a steep learning curve! The platform allows only all-or-nothing campaigns. Therefore, if we don’t raise our goal ($8000 CAD –  approx. $6000 USD) by March 23rd, backers are not charged/do not lose any money, but we creators lose all funds raised and contacts acquired. So the stakes are high! The benefits – aside from the financial ones if you fund – are that Kickstarter forces you to market your product long before it’s ready. This would have been helpful for me with my book. The process to create a Kickstarter is not too complicated – the customer support was responsive and walks you through the steps of setting up your page. The hard part is selecting an attainable funding goal and reaching it. It is very challenging – particularly since most SLPs (myself included) have limited training in marketing. For SLPs considering pursuing this path, I’m happy to connect!

To visit our Kickstarter page, where there is a great deal on Party Animals! and Party Time Bingo bundle go to:

Tali Kellerstein, SLP Author Interview