5 Children's Books that Instill a Love of Words

Often kids are drawn to a story for its adventurous plot, or because they shed bittersweet tears the first time around. Sometimes, it’s simply for the characters – darling, adorkable, or mighty ones that feel relatable or inspirational. Perhaps, it’s the gorgeous illustrations that draw them in and keep them hooked. There are plenty of reasons to love a good book.

But when a book instills a love for the words themselves, then your child just might be converted into an avid reader (or author!) for life. Check out these picture books that get children thinking about words and teach them to put them together into big ideas!

The Boy Who Loved Words

By Roni Schotter

A celebration of language, this book combines magical realism with an impressive vocabulary. Selig loves words – how they sound (tintinnabulation!), how they taste (tantalizing!), and even how they fill his heart (Mama!).

But as his collection of interesting words grows, his eccentricities don’t go unnoticed. His classmates lob some new ones at him as well (oddball!) and his mother can’t stop worrying. Who can help Selig make sense of the importance of his collection? Why, a Yiddish genie, of course!

Soon, Selig finds himself pinning words onto a tree that were just the ones a passing poet needs. He ends an argument with the word harmony. He helps a baker with the word luscious. And he himself finds love.

A lovely story about the power of words, the text is perfectly paired with folksy illustrations. Plus, a handy glossary at the back will help your kids (and you!) learn some pretty nifty terms.

Max’s Words

By Kate Banks 

Benjamin collects stamps. Karl collects coins. But Max’s brothers just won’t share. So Max decides to collect something of his own – words! – much to his sibling’s ridicule. No matter what order Benjamin puts his stamps in, or Karl his coins, they’re just a sequence of stuff. Only Max’s collection can become a thought. Only with his pile can the siblings work together to create a story.

As Max’s story unfolds page by page, children will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens next. They’ll be totally intrigued by the creative power of words and lured by Max’s ingenuity in finally getting his brothers to hand over a stamp and a coin.

With Boris Kulikov’s illustrations adding a layer of visual wordplay, kids will want to gather a word collection of their own.

Rocket Writes a Story

By Tab Hills

Looking to inspire your budding author? A little black-and-white spotted puppy named Rocket just might do the trick. Rocket loves stories. To him, each book smells like a place he hasn’t been to and feels like a friend he hasn’t yet met. He also loves words and, when he’s not reading, he sniffs out new terms for his word tree.

Once his tree is chock full of wonderful and glorious words, Rocket decides to write a story of his own. All he needs now is an idea.

The characters are lovable and Rocket’s challenge endearing. Children will be thoroughly engaged throughout – from the hunt for words until the end of the story. Rocket’s tale also teaches them about the elements of good storytelling as he sets out to learn the craft. Children will witness the writing process in action and will, no doubt, want to write a story of their own. 

The Very Inappropriate Word

By Jim Tobin

Michael is also a word collector. He adds new ones to his growing stack from words he finds on signs, on TV, playing baseball, at the hot dog stand, and at school. He likes little words for big things (vast), big words for little things (smithereens), and hard words for soft things (elastic).

The illustrations are cartoony and the words are presented very visually . . . smithereens breaks into pieces, elastic is all stretched out, and scram runs away on little legs.

One day, Michael picks up a big, green, hairy, dirty word that he has never heard before. It’s a bad word. An inappropriate one. But there was still something Michael likes about it. So he decides to try it out at school... oops!

Rather than punish Michael, the teacher puts him in charge of finding new words for the upcoming spelling test and soon that inappropriate one is totally forgotten.

Not only will the kids be drawn in with the highly visual use of words in the illustrations, they’ll also love the naughtiness of the inappropriate word. Throughout, they’ll be building a wonderful arsenal of vocabulary (don’t forget to check out the endpapers!) And they’ll be giggling over their new favorites. Nimbus, shenanigans, spelunking, or queasy... take your pick!

Word Collector

By Sonja Wimmer

Words that skip, hop, and swirl... Words that are long and impactful... funny words, friendly words, and words so beautiful they make you cry. Luna loves to collect them all. But when she casts out her net for a new catch, she only manages to get a few more nice ones. People aren’t using beautiful, magnificent, and fun words anymore. Those words are forgotten.

So Luna packs a suitcase full of her best picks and sets out to remind them of the beauty of words. Luminous illustrations and text scattered on the pages will have you looking, and reading, in all directions. Kids will love the playful story and will remember its positive message.

Does your little linguaphile have a favorite word... or do you? Share with us!

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