The story behind

Stories with Symbols

Founded by three friends, Stories with Symbols was originally intended to be a resource aimed at children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), to make stories more accessible and enjoyable.

We have since come to realise that lots of children, with – and without – additional needs, enjoy our Stories with Symbols!

It’s well known that learning language and literacy, and developing our communication skills, happens best in natural, enjoyable interactions with important people around us.  Technology can help, but it’s the interaction that is key.

What started as a passion project has developed into a charity, just as the videos themselves have grown in ambition.

The people behind

Stories with Symbols

Katie Kennedy

BA(Hons), MMedSci, CertMRCSLT and co-founder
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I have been working as a Speech and Language Therapist since 2009, when I completed a Masters in Clinical Communication Studies, at the University of Sheffield.

 

My work involves using a range of visual methods, for example, using symbols, pictures, signing and gestures to help children communicate.

I am excited to have co-founded Stories with Symbols and am enjoying applying best practice from my fascinating field of work, in aim to make books more inclusive and accessible to all children.

Books are such wonderful tools for supporting language and literacy development. Through sharing books, we have enjoyable interactions, build understanding of words, grammar and ideas, support spoken language and prepare for later reading and writing.

 

As a mum of two, I have been fortunate to experience the benefits of book sharing in my own home, as well as through my clinical practice.

 

I love connecting with children through book sharing activities, noticing what captures their interest, building their understanding of words and how the world works, and most of all seeing them have fun as they learn!

Alex and Sam Rowe

Co-founders

We are parents to two gorgeous children, one of whom, Elliot, has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and learning difficulties.

While Elliot didn't find us reading stories with him particularly motivating, regardless how animated and silly we got, he was always very interested in videos.

 

We had already made quite a few 'social story' videos, to prepare Elliot for events and situations he found challenging, so we applied the same principle to books and filmed ourselves reading stories to camera.

 

It worked - he would watch the videos over and over again.  What's more, his enjoyment of those books extended away from the screen.

From there, it seemed obvious to underscore the meaning of key words and concepts from the story with pop-up symbols on screen.  Stories with Symbols was born.

Elliot still reads and explores the stories, both alone and alongside us, following the on screen narrator with his copy of the book.

 

With the generous support of both Widgit, the authors and the publishers, we were able to develop the idea into what it is today: a resource used in the NHS, by therapists, schools, and families in the comfort of their own homes – anywhere in the world – for free.