The Link Between Speech Therapy and Reading Skills

Written by Team TE

June 13, 2024

Content by: Karalynne Alliss | Therapeutic Endeavors Intern

Speech and language skills form the foundation of literacy. The ability to understand and use spoken language is closely tied to the ability to read and write. For children struggling with speech and language disorders, this connection means they are at a higher risk of facing difficulties with reading and academic performance. In this blog post, we’ll explore the vital link between speech therapy and reading skills, and how early intervention can set the stage for lifelong literacy success.

Understanding the connection between speech therapy and reading skills is essential for fostering early literacy and academic success. Key areas influenced by speech therapy include phonemic awareness, vocabulary development, syntax and grammar, narrative skills, and listening comprehension. Early intervention by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) can address these foundational skills, preventing reading difficulties and boosting a child’s confidence and performance. Through targeted activities and strategies, speech therapy enhances both verbal communication and reading abilities, paving the way for a child’s successful learning journey.

Understanding the Connection

Speech therapy addresses a range of communication issues, including articulation, fluency, and language disorders. These areas are critical not only for effective verbal communication but also for developing reading skills. Here’s how:

Phonemic Awareness

Definition: The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.

Connection to Reading: Phonemic awareness is crucial for learning to read. Children must be able to segment and blend sounds to decode words. Speech therapy helps children develop these skills by focusing on sound production and auditory discrimination.

Vocabulary Development

Definition: The body of words a person knows and uses.

Connection to Reading: A robust vocabulary is essential for reading comprehension. Speech therapy enhances vocabulary through activities that introduce new words and concepts, improving a child’s ability to understand and interpret texts.

Syntax and Grammar

Definition: The set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences.

Connection to Reading: Understanding syntax and grammar helps children make sense of what they read. Speech therapy targets these areas, helping children construct and understand complex sentences, which translates to better reading comprehension.

Narrative Skills

Definition: The ability to tell a story with a clear sequence of events.

Connection to Reading: Narrative skills are important for both reading and writing. Speech therapy encourages children to organize their thoughts and convey them coherently, which supports their ability to understand and create narratives in written form.

Listening Comprehension

Definition: The ability to understand spoken language.

Connection to Reading: Listening comprehension is a precursor to reading comprehension. Speech therapy helps children follow directions, understand stories, and answer questions about what they’ve heard, laying the groundwork for reading comprehension.

Early Intervention and Its Impact

Early intervention is key to addressing speech and language issues before they significantly impact reading development. Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Prevents Learning Gaps:

    Early speech therapy can mitigate the risk of children falling behind in reading skills. Addressing issues early ensures that children develop the necessary language foundation before they start formal reading instruction.

  • Boosts Confidence:

    Children who struggle with speech and reading often experience frustration and low self-esteem. Early intervention helps build their skills and confidence, making them more likely to engage with reading and enjoy learning.

  • Supports Academic Success:

    Strong speech and language skills are linked to better academic performance. Early speech therapy can improve reading skills, leading to better grades and a more positive school experience.


How Speech Therapy Supports Reading Development

Speech therapists employ various strategies to support reading development:

  • Phonological Awareness Activities: These include rhyming games, sound matching, and segmenting and blending sounds.
  • Vocabulary Building: Speech therapists use picture cards, storytelling, and interactive reading to introduce new words.
  • Sentence Structure Exercises: Activities that focus on building and understanding complex sentences help improve syntax and grammar.
  • Storytelling and Sequencing: Therapists encourage children to tell stories and sequence events, which enhances narrative skills.
  • Listening and Comprehension Activities: These activities improve a child’s ability to understand spoken language and follow directions, which are essential for reading comprehension.


The connection between speech therapy and reading skills is undeniable. Strong speech and language abilities are the foundation of literacy, and early intervention plays a crucial role in preventing reading difficulties. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and reading development, consulting with a speech-language pathologist can provide the guidance and support needed to ensure their success.

At Therapeutic Endeavors, we are dedicated to helping children develop the skills they need for effective communication and literacy. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your child’s speech and reading development.


Early speech therapy is not just about improving communication; it’s about laying the foundation for lifelong literacy and learning.

Understanding the link between speech therapy and reading skills is essential for your child’s development. Parents are encouraged to seek help at the first signs of speech and language issues and to actively support their child’s literacy growth. Balancing therapy sessions with engaging, real-world interactions fosters a conducive learning environment. Additionally, incorporating educational activities that reinforce speech therapy can significantly enhance reading progress. Using enriching tools and resources that stimulate both communication and literacy skills transforms early intervention into a valuable, multifaceted learning experience.

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