Introducing New Vocabulary Through Stories

Picture books are teeming with amazing and not-often-used vocabulary! Along with the many other benefits of reading with children, consider vocabulary building among them. Picture books are wonderful because they include words that are not often used in everyday conversation. Words like kayak and ominously serve both to enhance a story and to get young minds working. Remember as you are reading to take time to define the new words in question if they may cause difficulty in comprehension!

Vocabulary building arises in conversations with children, as well, particularly in read aloud settings where many questions are being asked by multiple children. One thing that I felt compelled to do when I first started reading to children was to simplify vocabulary when I was explaining things to them. Instead of saying “chick,” for example, I would say “baby chicken.” However, children’s brains are so open and itching to learn, it is a disservice not to provide them with the proper vocabulary for things! Even if they might not remember the new words right away, the exposure to that new vocabulary is an important step in building literacy skills.


Picture books do more than you may think to increase children’s vocabularies. More often than not, picture books include vocabulary that is not used in everyday conversation, thus augmenting and reinforcing words and ideas (and creating new neural pathways). So, I say, read on! And when you find new and challenging words, step up to the challenge and see just how easily your children will step up to join you. :)

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