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Let it Snow a Blizzard of Books! How to Build Vocabulary Using Books

Research shows that vocabulary size and reading comprehension (understanding what you read) go hand in hand. How? Well, strong vocabulary skills support reading comprehension, and reading promotes further vocabulary growth.

In other words, the more words a child is exposed to and understands, the more she will understand what she reads. And when we understand what we read, we often enjoy reading!

But how do we help children learn lots and lots of words? There are many ways – talking and playing with your child are two important ones! But because a wider variety of words are often used in written language compared to spoken language, reading to children is one of the best ways to help them develop a large vocabulary.

Read on to find out which books are our favourite winter reads to cozy up with… and get some ideas on vocabulary you can target!

1) Froggy Gets Dressed – written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

Tag along with Froggy while he gets dressed to play in the snow! But, uh oh! Froggy has forgotten something and needs to head back indoors to put on his missing gear.

Winter vocabulary: clothing (scarf, long johns, coat, boots), snow

Action words: hop, sleep, play, get dressed

Describing words: cold, warm

Concepts: one/both, first…next…last, on/off, before/after, awake/tired

Advanced vocabulary: hibernation

Try it out! Bundle up to play outside. Describe each piece of clothing before putting it on. Give directions for your child to follow ( e.g. “Find both your mittens!” and “Put on your socks before your boots”).

2) Snowmen at Night – written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner

If your snowman looks a little different in the morning, it’s probably because he was up playing all night! This book gives some insight into the life of a snowman after dark and some inspiration for fun cold-weather activities.

Winter vocabulary: wintry, cocoa, snowman, ice, snowball fight, sledding

Action words: slipped, drooped, slide, gather, skating, race, giggling, bump, fall

Describing words: round, tall, dark, sleepy, crooked

Concepts: same/different, once/twice,

Advanced vocabulary: fright, wonder, anxious, aim, thrill, tuckered out

Try it out! Get outside to skate or go tobogganing! Warm up with some hot chocolate. Or if it’s too cold, try a fun snowball fight with some indoor snowballs!

3) Tacky the Penguin – written by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Tacky is not like his graceful and formal penguin companions; he is an unlikely hero who saves the day using his unique personality and sharp wit. We love a good underdog story that celebrates diversity and teaches the important lesson that differences can be strengths.

Winter vocabulary: penguin, icy, iceberg

Action words: greeted, marched, chanting

Describing words: quietly, politely, loud, graceful, splashy, rough, tough, growly

Concepts: same/different

Advanced vocabulary: companions, distance, puzzled, odd

Try it out! Compare and contrast Tacky and his companions. Act out marching while counting in order and then try marching Tacky’s way. Pretend to do a graceful dive and then a big cannonball. Dress up in formal wear then have fun modeling a Hawaiian shirt!

We hope you love these books as much as we do. Stay warm, and happy reading!

Jill McDermid

Registered Speech-Language Pathologist

Aurora Speech Clinic



Dickinson, D. and McCabe, A. (2001) Bringing It All Together: The Multiple Origins, Skills and Environmental Support of Early Literacy. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 16(4), 186-202.

#earlyliteracy #vocabularydevelopment #speechlanguagepathology

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