Word Wonder: Building Vocabulary with Books
Listening to a story with beautiful language read aloud, discussing the story with peers, talking with family and friends, and asking and answering questions are all important ways to develop vocabulary with young children. Quality literature is rich with words and pictures that stimulate imagination and conversation. The books in this column include many stories with vocabulary specific to special topics and themes, books with die-cut pages and interesting visual perspectives which inspire conversation, a story that focuses on the written language of notes and postcards, and books that are filled with language so lovely that boys and girls won't want the story to end. Words have the power to fill young minds with wonder.
| ||Big Yellow Sunflower|
|by Frances Barry (Candlewick Press, 2008, ISBN 0763637248)|
“Little seed, little seed, falling to the ground. What will you be?” A little gray mouse watches as a black-and-white seed twirls to the ground. On succeeding pages, other creatures notice the seed as it begins to root and sprout up through the dirt. A mole, a worm, a snail, a bird, a frog, a butterfly, and a bee all ask the same question, “What will you be?” As each bright yellow petal-shaped page fans out, a giant sunflower appears. By folding down the center of the flower, the reader will find instructions for growing sunflowers at home. This book makes use of a repeating question and is filled with vocabulary significant to the growing process for plants. Little ones will be amazed as the huge flower begins to take shape with each turn of a page. You’re sure to hear, “Read it again!”
| ||Choo Choo|
|by Petr Horacek (Candlewick Press, 2007, ISBN 0763634773)|
A train filled with children is off for a ride through the countryside. The shiny black train leaves the station and chugs through the woods (puff, puff), and over the bridge (clack, clack), into the tunnel (rumble, rumble), and out into the sunshine (chuff, chuff), eventually arriving at the beach. This sturdy square board book includes die-cut pages that create the tops of trees, the tips of mountains, and even tunnels through the rock. The book is filled with playful sound words and directional words. Climb aboard for an engaging story!
|by Rufus Butler Seder (Workman Publishing, 2007, ISBN 0761147633)|
“Can you gallop like a horse? Giddyup-a-loo!” And before your eyes, a horse gallops. This unusual book employs a new technology called Scanimation. A little screen on each spread comes to life with an animal that moves as it would in the wild. As you turn the page, the movement begins, which makes you want to turn the page again and again. A horse gallops, a rooster struts, a chimp swings, a turtle swims, a dog runs, a cat springs, an eagle soars, and a butterfly flutters. The words in the book are as interesting as the moving animals. Action words describe each creature, and a rhyming nonsense refrain adds an element of fun. “Can you soar like an eagle? Whoosh-whoosh-glide! Can you swing like a chimp? Swoop-swoop-slide!” The author of the text is also an inventor, an artist, and a filmmaker. The question-and-response format of this sturdy paper-over-cardboard book is inviting, and the live-action aspect is absolutely magical.
- Following directions is part of the school script, and using directional words in conversation with toddlers is a good way to assist them with understanding what is expected when they are given instructions. Remember to limit directions to one action in the beginning: “Please sit on the chair.” Add to the directions as the child becomes more proficient: “Please take off your coat and put your mittens in your pockets.” Use directional words in conversation: in, out, over, under, behind, above, below, on, off, through, into, first, last, and in the middle.
- The book Gallop! is filled with animals that move in a variety of ways. To reinforce the action words in the story, encourage little ones to move like the creaturesrepeat the appropriate verbs as the boys and girls strut, gallop, run, spring, flutter, and even soar.
Books selected and reviewed by Carol Price
. Carol Price has been a preschool teacher and director, a kindergarten and first grade teacher, an elementary principal, and a K-12 English language arts coordinator. Recently retired after working thirty years for Worthington Schools in Worthington, Ohio, she now spends her time as an educational consultant, workshop presenter, and adjunct professor at a local college. More importantly, she finally has hours and hours available to read newly released children's books and to curl up with a few of her old favorites, too.
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