Books by Theme
These picture books are full of rich vocabulary words and can help young children begin to understand subtle differences in word meaning.
Big, Bigger, Biggest
One animal's claim is followed by others who are successively bigger, smaller, etc., each using rich (and richer) descriptors.
Bring on the Birds
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.
Exactly the Opposite
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
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
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.
Merriam-Webster’s 150 First Words
Everyday objects and activities come together to help build a young child’s vocabulary in this sturdy, large format book. Familiar scenes are presented in simple illustrations with labeled photographs on a different colored background to extend language and present a search-and-find activity.
One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book
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.
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
When a young donkey named Sylvester comes across a magic pebble, he saves himself from a confrontation with a lion by wishing himself into a rock. Frantic parents search for Sylvester until they stop for a picnic on a large rock. Rich language and humorous cartoon illustrations make this a memorable classic.
The Loud Book
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 Tale of Peter Rabbit
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?
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?
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.
Zoola Palooza: A Book of Homographs
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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