Great Read Alouds: Boosting Vocabulary

mom reading to toddler boyReading picture books with children is a powerful way to help them soak up new words. Because picture books are short authors meticulously chose each word, which leads to rich text that is precise and descriptive. Picture books expose children to words they may not hear in everyday conversations and help them refine the meanings of words they do know. Here are some newer picture books that are particularly valuable in helping children expand and improve their vocabulary.    

The Barn written by Leah Rogers, illustrated by Barry Root

There are oodles of farm-themed picture books, but this one instantly became one of my favorites. It is told from the perspective of a proud, protective barn. The book features beautiful illustrations and rich descriptions of farm life in and around the barn from dawn to dusk. With abundant adjectives and strong verbs (amble, shuffle, lurk), this book is a perfect example of careful word selection.  

Orange Is an Apricot, Green Is a Tree Frog by Pascale Estellon

This book can be used to teach seven basic colors, and different shades and hues. The extraordinary features of this book, however, are the intricate illustrations of things found in nature. Each four-page section is devoted to plants and animals of a certain color. You’ll be attracted to the visually stunning pages then you’ll connect the pictures to words through labels. Your child will probably know some names such as “corn.” But they’ll also be introduced to red pomegranates, orange turmeric and black elderberries as well as a variety of specific animal species.  

A House by Kevin Henkes

Children learn more when they are actively involved in the reading. This book pairs pleasingly simple illustrations with minimal text that invites you to talk about what you see. You’ll use language related to spatial concepts (above, below, beside) as well as colors and shapes to answer the questions the book asks. Depending your child’s current level, you can either supply these words or give the child the opportunity to practice their language skills. It’s a charming book you’re likely to read differently each time.  

Check out this list for more recently released picture books that are especially helpful for building vocabulary.  

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Debbie is a youth services specialist on the Early Childhood team. Look for her on the Learn & Play Bus or hanging out with Baby Bookworms. Along with a passion for reading, Debbie enjoys puzzles, attending local dance and theater productions, gardening, and portrait photography.