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Words, Words, Words

These picture books are full of rich vocabulary words and can help young children begin to understand subtle differences in word meaning.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

A Seed Is Sleepy

By: Dianna Aston
Illustrated by: Sylvia Long
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

How many kinds of seeds to you see? Where are they found? This handsomely illustrated book of seeds provides a poetic look at the myriad types of seeds and plants to complement a classroom study.

Big, Bigger, Biggest

By: Nancy Coffelt
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

One animal's claim is followed by others who are successively bigger, smaller, etc., each using rich (and richer) descriptors.

Bring on the Birds

By: Susan Stockdale
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Stunning yet accurate illustrations accompany a gently rhyming, rhythmic text to introduce the behavior of a variety of birds. Brief information about the birds shown encourages young readers to want to learn more about these handsome creatures.

Eating the Alphabet

By: Lois Ehlert
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Clean lines of both upper and lower case letters combine with colorful fruits and vegetables for a unique way to think about - and even eat through the alphabet.

Exactly the Opposite

By: Tana Hoban
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Crisp color photographs in this wordless book connect concepts defined in the titles. Another great picture book by Tana Hoban is Is It Rough? Is It Smooth? Is It Shiny?. Both are sure to generate rich language as each picture is examined and described multiple times. [May also be used for building observational skills in science.]

Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany

By: Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by: Robin Glasser
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The stylish child whose love of words has become the basis of a series of books shares her love of words in this alphabetically arranged picture book glossary. Humorous illustrations are sure to generate additional words to describe Nancy's fancy, chic, attractive world.

How Are You Peeling? Foods With Moods

By: Saxton Freymann
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Who would have thought that fruits and vegetables could express a cornucopia of emotions? The expressive produce are labeled with the fellings they are showing. Readers of all ages can identify with this clever book and will gain the words to use when presented with stressful situations.

How Much, How Many, How Far, How Heavy, How Long, How Tall Is 1000?

By: Helen Nolan
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Terms and comparisons to describe numbers are presented in an engaging story from which word wall content could be developed and expanded.

Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry

By: Cindy Neuschwander
Illustrated by: Bryan Langdo
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Basic geometry is introduced in this story about children who accompany their parents on a trip to Egypt. A word wall of geometric shapes and terms would enhance a math study.

One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book

By: April Sayre, Jeff Sayre, Randy Cecil
Illustrated by: Randy Cecil
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While you're on the beach, you can count from 1 to 10 by feet — combining numbers of feet and then multiplying them all the way to 100, which is ten crabs… or 100 snails if you really count slowly! Colorful, bug-eyed, cartoon-like critters further enliven this jaunty approach to numbers.

Say What?

By: Angela DiTerlizzi
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Are animals and their familiar animal sounds really trying to say another word in English? (For example, "When a hoses says NEIGH,/does she really mean HAY?") Word walls could be made of rhyming words (or word families) or of animal sounds in English as well as what animals say in other languages.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

By: William Steig
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sylvester unwittingly turns himself into a rock when he finds a magic pebble. The vivid language in this Caldecott Medal winning book is rich and varied. Other books by Steig with equally intriguing plots and rich language include The Amazing Bone (Farrar, 1993) and Dr. DeSoto (Farrar, 1990).

The Loud Book

By: Deborah Underwood
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

There are many kinds of sounds. Use this book as a jumping off point for loud sounds, onomatopoeic sounds, or use The Quiet Book (Houghton) for the opposite of loud. These books might also inspire a word wall for emotions (e.g., how does this kind of quiet/loud make you feel?).

The Pot that Juan Built

By: Nancy Andrews-Goebel
Illustrated by: David Diaz
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A cumulative poem (in the cadence of "The House that Jack Built") chronicles the work and life of Mexican potter, Juan Quezada. Words could center around the culture, the potting process, or art & artists.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

By: Beatrix Potter
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Peter’s disobedience almost gets him cooked while his siblings, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail enjoy a tasty supper in this timeless and satisfying tale. Potter’s carefully detailed and highly realistic illustrations amplify the fantasy and dramatize Peter’s possible consequences.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

By: Steve Jenkins
Illustrated by: Robin Page
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Clear, textured illustrations of animals and their special parts (e.g., tail, nose) focus readers on the special function of each. Not only is it likely to generate a description of the appendage but its function (what it does), and of the animal and its environment. Other books by Steve Jenkins, such as Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, may also generate rich descriptive language.

Where Does the Garbage Go?

By: Paul Showers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This 'Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science' follows garbage from the trash bin to various places (landfills, recycling centers, etc.). Common terms are explained and made accessible to children. This title would pair well with Kate & Jim McMullan's I Stink! (HarperCollins), a book told from the truck's perspective.

Who Has These Feet?

By: Laura Hulbert
Illustrated by: Erick Brooks
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A clearly illustrated pair of feet is shown with the title question. On the next page, the entire animal is seen with a basic characteristic of the foot, sure to intrigue and inform.

Zoola Palooza: A Book of Homographs

By: Gene Baretta
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Homographs make sense in context. A word wall of words that are spelled alike but are pronounced differently (depending on the context in which they are used) may be developed inspired by this funny animal-filled "zoo."

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