Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playing with Words

Vocabulary is one of the most important literacy skills a child needs in order to become a successful reader in life. When reading aloud to a child, you will often encounter a "rare" word - a word not regularly used in conversation. This might be a word that you understand or recognize, but think your child will not know the meaning of it. Instead of skipping over this word - or substituting an easier word - take a moment to explain what the word means to your child. Knowing the meanings of large number of words helps a child when she begins reading on her own. It helps her make that connection between sounding out a word and recognizing a word she has heard before and knows the meaning of. Picture books are a great way to introduce new words. In normal conversation, we encounter roughly 9 rare words per 1000 words spoken or heard. But in picture books, we encounter approximately 27 rare words per 1000!(

Children love to play with the silly sounds of words - which is one reason Dr. Seuss books have remained so popular over time. Many picture books celebrate words in a variety of ways. In Fancy Nancy, Nancy makes sure we know she prefers fancier rather than simple words. In Max's Words, we meet a wonderful boy who collects words like some boys collect coins or stamps! In The Boy Who Loved Words, Selig also collects words and discovers their power.

For even younger children, sharing books like The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood or Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming introduces them to a variety of different words used to talk about the same concept. For truck lovers, try The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore. Descriptions of various heavy equipment give readers a great chance to expand their vocabulary: "The boom pump can squirt tons of concrete. The street sweeper can squirt a small puddle of water."

Enjoy these books!

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor

A young girl who loves fancy things helps her family to be fancy for one special night. Sure to bring out your own fancy side! If you love this one, be sure to catch Fancy Nancy in her return to picture books with Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy.

Max's Words by Kate Banks

When Max cuts out words from magazines and newspapers, collecting them the way his brothers collect stamps and coins, they all learn about words, sentences, and storytelling.

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter

Selig, who loves words and copies them on pieces of paper that he carries with him, goes on a trip to discover his purpose. Words. Selig collects them, ones that stir his heart (Mama!) and ones that make him laugh (giggle). But what to do with so many luscious words? After helping a poet find the perfect words for his poem (lozenge, lemon, and licorice), he figures it out: His purpose is to spread the word to others. And so he begins to sprinkle, disburse, and broadcast them to people in need. {Syndetics}

Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming

When Bear notices that winter is nearly here he hurries to tell Snail, after which each animal tells another until finally the already sleeping Bear is awakened in his den with the news. {Syndetics}

The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore

Despite its size, the street sweeper has one mighty job! The street sweeper is a little truck with a very big job. While it is not the largest, fastest, or most powerful truck, a street sweeper does something that no other truck can do: it keeps our streets clean. And a street sweeper is so much fun to watch.Colorful illustrations and an engaging compare-and-contrast text make this picture book a delight for budding truck-lovers. {Syndetics}

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