Building Vocabulary by Reading

Building Vocabulary by Reading

A child’s strong vocabulary can be a great help to him during both his time in school and his life in general.  In a nutshell, vocabulary indicates how many words a child can both understand and use.  Children build vocabulary naturally by hearing other people talk around him.  However, over time your child will need to add to his vocabulary in other ways as well.  So how can you increase your child’s vocabulary?

Building Vocabulary: Read, Read, Read

One of the best ways for your child to increase his vocabulary is to read.  The key here though is the type of books he chooses to read.  Reading books below his grade level will generally only use words he already is familiar with and therefore will not teach him new words.  Instead, encourage him to choose books at least one grade level above where he currently is.  The grade level of books is based partly on the words that are used so higher grade levels mean slightly harder words.  If you are unsure what grade level a book is meant to be, use the book wizard at to check.

Talk about Books

You can increase vocabulary even more by talking about the higher grade level books that your child chooses.  Encourage your child to write down two or three words that they don’t know in each chapter.  (Sticky notes can make this assignment a little more fun for them.)  At the end of each chapter, discuss the new words.  You can use any of these ways to increase their understanding of the words.

  • Ask the child what he thinks the word means from the story.
  • Look up the word in a dictionary to find the real meaning.
  • Draw a picture of what the word means.
  • Use the word in a new sentence.

Use Bigger Words Yourself

Feel free to add some harder words into your own everyday speaking.  Remember children learn quite a bit from listening to others around them.  Many times parents tend to simplify their own language in front of their children.  Children can understand much more than we sometimes think, and if your child doesn’t understand a word you use, they will probably ask what it means.  This gives you a great opportunity to teach them a new word.

Increasing your child’s vocabulary doesn’t have to be a major undertaking full of workbooks and worksheets.  Following these simple tips can make learning new words both simple and rewarding.

How do you teach your children new vocabulary?

Elementary Reading Curriculum at Smart Tutor

Photo by John Morgan

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