3 Ways to Increase Children’s Vocabulary

 

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All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” — Ernest Hemingway

Words are currency for conversation. We all have the ability learn more valuable vocabulary. The best part is that when we teach others words, it doesn’t make us poorer, but rather enriches both lives. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or just want to help the next generation succeed, there are simple ways to help children increase their vocabularies.

Talk & Read More

In order for children to have high vocabularies, they need to be exposed to as much language as possible. This may seem obvious once children turn a certain age, but it is actually important to begin speaking to children from birth (or sooner!). It’s even beneficial to read to newborns. The bad news is that television and other recorded voices won’t work as well as a live person speaking. The good news is that you can read any material to a newborn. This can be a great way to catch up on reading the news or any book you’re currently working on. As vocabulary expert Dana Suskind explains, “While babies may not understand the words, they are comforted by the sound of a parent’s voice, the rhythm of speech, and the warmth of the touch.”

Keep Language Positive

As kids grow and begin to comprehend what adults are saying, it’s important for them to hear an abundance of positive language. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) specialists agree that our brains struggle to process negative words. This is why when people are told not to think of a purple elephant, it becomes difficult to think of anything else. With children, this can mean when you say, “Don’t touch!” their brains are focusing on “Touch!” Luckily, we can easily counteract this problem by rephrasing what we say with a positive spin. For example, “Don’t touch!” can be traded out for, “Please keep your hands to yourself.” The more words a child’s brain can process, the more words they will remember.

Repeat & Rephrase

Rephrasing is also useful when it comes to what children are saying. Repeating what a youngster has said, and slightly correcting the wording, is a wonderful way to increase vocabulary. For instance, if a child exclaims, “That dog is real big!” you might respond with, “Yes, that dog is huge!” Using new words in the context of what a child is already talking about makes it easy to introduce new words.

BONUS:

If a kid’s home language is differentchild in library and Spanish book than the one spoken at school, it’s important to develop literacy skills in his or her native language as studies have found that strengthening skills in any language is beneficial while learning a new one. If you want your child fluent in English, vocabulary from other languages can help show connections between the words. 
Look in your local library for some our favorite books which are available in multiple languages or have bilingual editions:

1. Spot Goes to School by Eric Hill (Arabic Edition)

2. Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (English and Spanish)

3. Janjak and Freda Go to the Iron Market by Elizabeth Turnbull (English and Creole)

Follow these tips and the children around you will be rich with words! What are some of your favorite tips for increasing vocabulary? Let us know below.

What are some of your favorite tips for increasing vocabulary? Let us know below.

by Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper. Hannah is a Library Specialist with Books for Kids and works in our Las Vegas libraries. This post originally appeared on her blog at Medium.com. 

Stories to learn from: Black History Month and Beyond

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Black History Month ends today, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! The stories shared in February need to continue being shared during the rest of the year. For children, seeing themselves represented in their literature in early learning (and throughout their lives) is as imperative as learning about the experiences of others. Having these stories presented in formats kids can understand, in a developmentally appropriate way, not only connects them to their larger world but aids in their personal growth and the strengthening of their literacy skills.

For the last week of Black History Month, we did a #7Days7Books series on Twitter. To keep the learning and sharing going all year round, here is an expanded list.

Songs in the Library

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Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper, our Las Vegas Library Specialist, gets one of our readers to show off his best air guitar skills while singing a song in the library.

Pop Quiz: Which letter comes before “Q” in the alphabet?

I bet you didn’t think we could make you sing that easily, did you?

Chances are, you didn’t first learn the alphabet as a spoken sequence of letters, but as a song. Songs are extremely valuable in fostering early childhood literacy skills. Songs get stuck in your head, and what are songs made up of? Words. The support of our donors enables us to provide each of our libraries with a dedicated Library Specialist to not only lend books and read aloud to children but to engage them with songs, which helps them learn more words. Recently, we interviewed our seven Library Specialists to hear how and why they use songs in our libraries across the country from Alabama, to California, and New York.

In The News: Literacy and Education news for February 2017

The New York Times: From Children’s Books to Live Theater: Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers Have New Tales to Tell
“Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers — two of the most beloved, and singular, creators of children’s picture books working today — have both seen their literary creations head to the stage.

The Hechinger Report: Can private Pre-K for All providers survive in New York City?
As “New York City continues to expand its nationally lauded free preschool program, private providers contend with high expectations and exacting requirements.”

The Washington Post: Why it’s important to read aloud with your kids, and how to make it count
“Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world.”

The Boston Globe: State early childhood education system ‘in crisis,’ says DeLeo
“Last year DeLeo asked local business leaders to find ways to increase access and improve the quality of the state’s early childhood education system, which serves children from birth to 5 years old. His presentation Wednesday marked the release of that report.”

Education Week: Head Start Could Be Innovator for Early-Childhood Workforce, Ed. Group Says
“Head Start, the venerable 52-year-old federal preschool program for children from low-income families, could be [sic] serve a role in improving the early-education workforce as a whole, says a new report from Bellwether Education Partners, a Washington-based consulting firm.”

BFK’s Best Picture Books of 2016!

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2017 is finally here, so we thought we’d do a recap of our most loved books from the previous year. The kids in our libraries have pulled these books off the shelves and brought them home again and again, and we’re sure the children in your life will love them just as much. Many of these books are new additions to dearly loved series with some of our favorite characters, and some are brand new, but all of them are sure to bring smiles and excitement to story time. Adults will love these picks too and won’t mind hearing, “read this again!”