These children’s books that build vocabulary are read alouds for vocabulary development! Great expressive language and introduction to big words.
These picture books are a fun way to build vocabulary effortlessly. I also have a series of posts on picture books with SAT vocabulary from the literacy specialist at our elementary school. She selects a series of picture books and pulls out big words along with a sentence with the word. Little kids like big words!
Best picture books that build vocabulary
Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos, illustrated by T. L. McBeth
Stegothesaurus is not like his brothers, the stegosaurs. Stegothesaurus knew lots of big words that he used to describe everything around him. When an allosaurus approached, his brothers ran away. It turns out this allosaurus was different too. She was an allothesaurus.
They spent time together decribing everything they encountered until he asked how she knew all those words. The answer frightened him back and he ran back to his brothers. This is a fun and funny picture book to teach new words. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything by Chelsea H. Rowe, illustrated by Frank Dormer
Ebenezer is a word collector and he has the perfect word for every situation. They are big words with many syllables and that’s the way Ebenezer likes it. He wants to share his word collection but no one is interested. Except for Fitzgerald. He likes words too because he writes stories.
Sometimes he has the story, but not the perfect word. It’s no surprise that they become good friends. I mean, stupendous friends. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi
An advanced picture book about a girl and her Korean grandmother and how they both learn to bridge the cultural gap with food. Yunmi and Halmoni’s Trip is about their trip back to visit Korea.[picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordicai Gerstein
Chock full of SAT level adjectives. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Owen and Mzee by Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff,
A true story about a remarkable friendship between an old tortoise and a young hippopotamus. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully
Elizabeth Stanton tells young Cordelia about the fight for a woman’s right to vote while encouraging her to bravely jump her horse. We have enjoyed all of her books, especially the Mirette series. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Connor
Nancy’s fancy capers are beloved by all girls, fancy or not. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Any book by Patricia Polacco except Pink and Say which is a great book about her ancestry at the time the Civil War but the content is too violent and sad for small children. If you read any of her book jackets, the biography of each book will tell you about the people in her life who inspired each story. [picture books, ages 5 and up]
Thesaurus Rex by Laya Steinberg
Lots of synonyms presented by a T. Rex. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Anatole series by Eve Titus
Anatole is a French mouse with a keen palate. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
Mirette meets a high wire walker who is boarding at her mother’s house and she helps him regain his ability to wire walk. In return, he teaches her to master the high wire. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.