In this study, which aimed to compare the expressive language opportunities provided by shared book reading and facilitated play, the language of 22 young children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and delayed language was examined. The children were videotaped while interacting with a facilitator during a session that included both book reading and play. Two different protocols were used to analyse the children's language in both conditions. The first protocol was used to document the number of intelligible, unintelligible and inaudible utterances and the second protocol was used to examine the intelligible utterances in relation to their complexity and function. The findings indicated that shared book reading elicited more language, more intelligible language and more complex language than the facilitated play condition. Results also suggested that shared book reading allowed for more conversational interaction between the children and the facilitators. The indications are that shared book reading may provide better opportunities than facilitated play for collecting a representative language sample from young children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.