‘R Is The Roughest,’ But Not The Only Hard Sound

Cynthia Gould has always had a passion for helping children with speech impediments.

Now, she and her sister-in-law, Michelle Marlow, have found a way to impart pronunciation tricks even when a child is not in the middle of a face-to-face session.

Gould, who grew up in the Park Cities and now lives in Dallas, teamed up with Marlow to write a several children’s books that focus on specific letters or “sounds” that speech pathologists have identified as being particularly difficult to master for those with impairments.

Using landmarks from around the area as illustrations, Gould and Marlow have written books titled S is the Most Delicious Sound, L is for Lemonade, CH is the Most Challenging Sound, and their most recent one, R is the Roughest Sound.

Each book offers about 250 examples of the book’s targeted letter or sound and incorporates those with pictures from the Dallas-Fort Worth area that match.

For example, in CH, several of the pictures are from the State Fair of Texas, while L focuses on a lemonade stand that sits next to one of the holes at the Colonial Golf Tournament.

“. . . they are books that are written to increase a child’s self-esteem and teach other children that it’s OK to find something difficult.” -Cynthia Gould

(Sisters-in-law Michelle Marlow (top left) and Cynthia Gould (bottom right) visits classrooms to read their book R is the Roughest Sound. Courtesy photos)

Besides being “a joy” to write, Gould, who is on the faculty at McCullough Intermedia/Highland Park Middle School, said the books serve as extra tutoring sessions for children.

“We wanted to create a series of books about hard-to-pronounce sounds so that parents can read them to their children, and also so therapists can use them during their sessions,” she said. “Every book has a little speech therapy ‘trick,’ but really they are books that are written to increase a child’s self-esteem and teach other children that it’s OK to find something difficult, but with perseverance, you can succeed.”

For R, they decided images from the Fort Worth Rodeo and Stock Show would do the trick.

“We want them to really be immersed in sound production or hearing the sound if the book is being read to them,” Gould said.

Gould said knowledge of speech pathology is growing, as well. At a recent reading to an area elementary school, she asked the students if they knew what a speech pathologist was and did. To her surprise, half the children in the audience raised their hands.

“Ten years ago, I don’t think a single hand would have been raised,” she said.

The sisters-in-law aren’t done, either. Gould said they have plans to write more books and help as many children with speech impediments as possible.

“Who knows what the future holds, but our goal is to continue with our series of hard-to-pronounce sounds and tackle other sounds such as ‘SH,’ ‘TH,’ ‘K,’ and ‘G,’ as well as looking into other aspects of our field such as stuttering and autism so that we can help as many children as possible,” she said.

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