Building Vocabulary Through Books
Why is reading to your preschooler one of the best ways to prepare him/her to succeed in school? Young children who associate reading and books with being physically and emotionally close to a parent or other loving family member will become good readers and will always love to read. These positive associations will last a lifetime. Preschoolers also benefit from the experience of reading time being fun time – what better way to create a school-age child who is eager and motivated to learn to read? Most important of all, reading to your preschooler is a critical component of building your child’s vocabulary. Words are the tools that help young children organize their thoughts, regulate their behavior, and negotiate social settings. In other words, a large and diverse vocabulary enables children to succeed in school. Vocabulary prepares them to understand the curriculum, express their thoughts and ideas to their teachers, and make friends.
There are countless picture books for preschoolers that will introduce them to new and varied words. Choose books that:
- Relate to the child’s experience. For example, a book about a trip to the supermarket will spark conversations about the child’s own experiences and provide opportunities to introduce new words.
- Are new to the child’s experience. A child who has never been to the zoo might be fascinated by a book about a trip to the zoo, and all the new vocabulary that relates to such a trip.
- Inspire a child’s imagination. A story that captures a child’s imagination will leave the child open to all sorts of new ideas and prompt discussions that can introduce new words.
- Feature characters that are from the same cultural background as the child. Children are naturally interested in a story with characters who appear familiar, who speak the same language, eat the same foods, and celebrate the same holidays.
- Are designed to introduce new vocabulary. Picture vocabulary books act as a child’s first dictionary and introduce new vocabulary in a clear way. Children love the challenge and the triumph of learning and naming all the pictures.
When it comes to getting preschoolers ready to succeed in school, read and converse often, and use unusual words that stretch a child’s vocabulary. Remember both quantity and quality of vocabulary counts!
Reprinted with the permission of the Parent-Child Home Program, Inc.
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