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

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