April Pulley Sayre’s Books

Joyful big words about FOOD! With vibrant photos of edibles familiar and novel, April Pulley Sayre celebrates the fun and fascination of things we eat. The words beg to be memorized, then get stuck in your head and return in the grocery store as you shop. These books are a pleasure for eyes, ears and mouth. Enjoy!

Thesaurus Rex

Author Laya Steinberg
Illustrator Debbie Harter
I stumbled upon Thesaurus Rex by chance, while searching for books to teach comparison concepts. It was a lucky find. Thesaurus Rex is a great example of the expansion parents can practice with any book. The author uses numerous synonyms or closely related words for many adventures we observe through the story. Author Laya Steinberg gives us four new words for mud:
“Thesaurus Rex lands in mud: slime, slush, mire and muck. Oh no! Now he’s stuck.”
By imitating this strategy in daily read-alouds, parents can increase the number and variety of words their kids hear in a fun and playful way. Changing ‘mud’ to ‘mire’ or ‘muck’ or replacing ‘big’ with ‘huge’ or ‘gigantic’ adds interest and fun for everyone. Thesaurus Rex is a terrific book for learning and practicing this BigWords strategy. Enjoy!

Big Words:

sup
swill
extending
foraging
frolic
rollick
frisk
romp
slither
skid
mire
yowl
bathe
scour
gnaw
raw
bundled

Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons

Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator Jane Dyer
Vocabulary, manners, and smiles are wrapped into this treasure recommended by fellow bibliophile, Antje. Each page of Cookies introduces a new word and defines it in terms of cookies. For example, a sheep in a purple sweater tells readers: “HONEST means, I have to tell you something. The butterfly didn’t really take the cookie–I took the cookie.” As a cookie fanatic, the definition that resonates most with me is: “REGRET means, I really wish I didn’t eat so many cookies.” Other important words we want our children to understand like envy, loyal, open-minded, content, wise, pessimistic and optimistic are all defined in terms of cookies. Jane Dyer’s watercolors add meaning and depth to Rosenthal’s brilliant words as a diverse cast of children and animals demonstrate meanings by cooperating, sharing, lamenting, and consuming cookies. There are also several instances of contrasting words: Greedy/Generous, Pessimistic/Optimistic, Fair/Unfair: defining opposites side by side helps kids to develop deeper understanding of words by seeing what they are not.

Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal has written two other Cookies books. Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love and Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons are on my list to check out soon.

Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons is short, sweet, and ends on a thoughtful note; just right for a bedtime story.

Big Words:
cooperate
patient
proud
modest
respect
trustworthy
compassionate
greedy
generous
pessimistic
optimistic
honest
courageous
envy
loyal
open-minded
regret
content
wise

Why Big Words?

24,000 Words

That’s how many words kindergartners should understand.

To achieve that incredible number, children must learn 13 words a day before age five!

To learn a new word, a child needs to hear it as many as 12 times, but adult conversations only use about 3,000 words. Reading aloud is the best way to expose children to new words!

Insectlopedia

Author and Illustrator Douglas Florian
We are weevils.
We are evil.
We’ve aggrieved
Since time primeval.

Our whiny, evil voices chorus this verse from Florian’s ‘The Weevils’ every time a weevil is spotted or mentioned. It sticks with us as only poetry can. 

As read-alouders, we can maximize poem power by playing with voices, emphasizing rhythm and rhyme, rise and fall, and inviting our listeners to echo or chant along.  Rhyming is a vital skill for pre-readers. Immersing kids in frequent songs and books filled with poetry prepares a foundation for pattern recognition.

insectlopedia (published as lower-case ‘i’), is our family’s favorite Florian.  I wonder if the author shares our love of insects, as his poems and watercolors on paper bags seem especially creative here. In addition to using vocabulary to keep parents on tiptoes, Florian feeds us insect facts and word-play: words-within-words, homonyms, and shape poetry to appeal to visual memory for new words.

Big Words:

pupa
demon
behold
enormous
terrorize
seize
mere
stroll
thickets
wend
religiously
dainty
venom
denim
mammoth
disguise
ward
aggrieved
primeval
bore
boll
gore
ruinous
medieval
weevil
evil
walkingstick
disappearing
pulpy
lunge
plunge
lurch
lope
monarch
migrations
wince
duke
lug
termites
immense
defense
superior
underground
shields
droughts
guarantees
architectural
design
suits
locusts
swarm
disappear
gigantic
romantic
artistic
majestic
magnetic
aesthetic
strictly
parasitic

 

 

I, Crocodile

by Fred Marcellino
Harper Collins Publishers

Big and Bigger Words:

succulent
delectable
pathetic
aristocrat
descendant
noble
ancestors
obelisk
abrupt
scrumptious
flattering
idol
idle
seizing
loutish
sentimental
mishap
flee
peril
dank
fetid
I, Crocodile is a read-alouder’s dream!  History, humor, and vocabulary accompany delicious illustrations for an entertaining and purpose-filled read.  The main character is a crocodile, ripped from his home in Egypt and ending gleefully in the sewers of Paris.  He introduces kids to Napoleonic raids and French society while filing their ears with sumptuous words.  It’s a fun read-aloud and fantastic teaching tool.  This one is worth owning, as it can be read repeatedly to layer and re-layer the variety of vocabulary offered.