How to use Books To Encourage MORE WORDS In Your Child

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Encouraging More Words


We all love to hear our child’s first words. As soon as we hear them we encourage more words! We are then enthralled as their vocabulary builds, turns into phrases, and eventually, they are telling us all about their experiences in long dialogs! Hearing your child express themself verbally is one of the most satisfying moments of parenthood. Sometimes though, the words don’t flow quite as naturally, or smoothly as is typical. That doesn’t make it any more magical though! As a matter of fact, the work you and your child put into it can make it even more magical and the celebration becomes even more satisfying, and your child seems even more brilliant! Whether your child is 9 months old and joyously uttering those first words, or she is 4 and still is only saying a few words; this little guide will help you enjoy the process of encouraging more words!

Desi has just turned 4 and we have seen a language explosion around here! The kid understands everything,  but her own verbal expression has been limited. She had maybe 20 words a month ago, that she had been building up to for a few years. But in the last month, that list has grown to near 40! That makes for a lot of excitement in this house.

As books are a big part of that growth,  I thought I’d compile a list of her favorites and the areas we “use”  them, or ways they seem to strengthen, or reinforce her verbal language growth (how they encourage MORE WORDS)

Desi is 4 and has Down Syndrome, you can read more About Desi here. If you have a “typically ” developing child these books and activities might be used as young as 6-9 months, or when they show an interest in the words.


girl with a teddy bear and a book



Ideas for Using Books to encourage More Words:


 Fun is one of the best tools for gaining more words! 

 Make it fun! The child should not have an inkling that there is a “lesson” involved. Have fun yourself~  enjoy the cuddles and interaction.


Following your child’s lead is key to encouraging words

It is great to have an agenda, don’t get me wrong! However, there is so much to learn from any book and what your child wants to focus on right then needs to take precedent because we all learn better in that moment when our interest is highest. Follow your child’s lead and interest when they initiate. i.e. Don’t insist on counting objects when they are naming them!  Go with the flow.


Number Words

Take advantage of counting objects when they are available. Take your child’s hand and have her finger point to the objects. You count and she’ll join in when she’s ready.  It doesn’t have to be a counting book, you can count balls, blocks, flowers, anything in the pictures. Start small, keep it under 5 at first.



picture of a blue daisy with a quote overlay


Object Words

Name objects.  First name the objects yourself as you point to it. Say, “Doggie” and point to the dog. Next, you can ask where the doggie is.  Don’t worry if your child doesn’t point to it. You can take his finger and help him point to the dog, saying, “There’s the doggie!” You can ask the child to say “doggie” by pointing to the dog and saying, “what is this?”.  Wait a few seconds for a response before you bellow out the answer! They may need time to think. It would be hard to learn to talk if there was never an opportunity!


Incorporate Variety in your “Lessons”

It can be easy to fall into a rut when you seem to be reading the same books all the time! Change things up. Ask about different objects, sometimes count them, sometimes name them, sometimes point out actions. Each book has so many verbal learning opportunities! Even if your child likes the very same activity each time try adding or pointing out one new thing each time 🙂


Listen for the Words!

This sounds obvious, but sometimes first words don’t sound like that object at all.  Sometimes, especially with delayed or special needs kids, the first time saying something will only be the first sound or syllable.

Be aware of clues from your child. If your child points to a bird and says “buh”, that is exciting!  Say, “that’s right! Bird! ” your goal is verbalization, not perfect articulation.  Any sound that you have any idea might be meant as communicating an idea or name should be reinforced, celebrated and encouraged.


Starting with Books to Encourage More Words

So, where do you start?

Rhyming books or repeating books are great for predicting words. It is super easy for a child to learn to chime in on the rhyming word, or repeating word (or phrase). Start by enunciating and emphasizing the rhyming word a bit extra when you read. When you start hearing the child chime in with you, you can start pausing at that place and looking at your child in anticipation.  If they freeze up, just say the word with excitement and move on. Just keep giving them some opportunities to say it alone, before you know it they’ll be ready to burst out with that word enthusiastically!


Opportunity is the Most Important Key to getting More Words!

Don’t worry so much about doing it “right”. Just make sure you read every day. Pointing out learning opportunities will come more naturally the more you do it! Just keep reading and having fun, taking advantage of opportunities to encourage more words as you see them. Reading books is a great bonding experience. The more fun you have at it and the more positive experiences your child has with books; the more accomplished they will be with language. Which will translate to More Words, and beyond.


quote about books in front with books in background



Desi’s current faves that encourage more words!



childrens books on a table



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{Llama Llama Red Pajama}

has been a family favorite since Rudy was little. He loved having this book read to him. AND (almost as importantly) everyone liked reading it to him! Now it’s Desi’s turn to love it, and everyone still likes reading it aloud! The rhymes are fun, with a cute story of a bedtime routine.

With the rhyming, it makes it so easy for her to remember the words coming up so she joins in on the reading fun! She bends her head down for a kiss when Mama Llama “kisses baby Llama’s hair “. And since she’s fascinated by phones, she gets excited when “mama llama hears the phone ” and chimes in when “baby llama starts to MOAN”! Several new words in this book. Desi’s been requesting this one several times a day and acquiring lots of new words from it.

Llama Llama Red Pajama will quickly endear itself to your family!

and OH MY GOSH! This adorable little plush Llama! Desi has been pointing out Little Llama’s little doll Llama -I’m going to have to get her one of these!




{Brown Bear, Brown Bear

What do you see}

This is another classic that is at the top of Desi’s list these days. This version of Brown Bear has sturdy slide tabs that are easy for her to work, revealing the object that is next to be seen, for added interest. She already said “bird” and “dog”, but now has added quite a few other animals and colors as she repeats each one when she slides the tab back!





By Sandra Bonton

Doggies is a good time waiting to happen! With number and counting fun, as well as TEN different barking sounds, no wonder Desi picks it almost every day. She’s starting to count along, saying quite a few numbers (she fills in with nondescript sounds on the numbers she doesn’t say yet just to keep the rhythm going! ) AND she loves to howl at the moon at the appropriate spot! Sometimes we get a little carried away with this one, it’s just so darn fun🐶!




Actually,  you can’t go wrong with any Sandra Boynton books they are ALL great!




{Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb}

Actually, this was a favorite of MINE when I was little! (It’s an old book : o ) all my kids have enjoyed it and Desi adores it! My childhood copy is pictured in the graphic above, I won’t disclose how old it is lol!  A rhyming book that has lots and lots to verbalize about with hands and fingers drumming, monkeys humming and zumming, apples and plumbs. . . dum, ditty dum ditty dum dum dum.

This little board book is perfect for pint-sized hands.



So, grab a book, pull your little one onto your lap, encourage MORE WORDS, and make some lovely memories!


♦ Update ♦

This was originally posted on March 15, 2018. Desi is now 6 and her vocabulary has expanded exponentially! She speaks in phrases and is becoming quite adept at getting her ideas across! She still loves all of these books and is still learning from them! Books have been such a huge part of her growth in verbal expression as well as a fun bonding time for us!


  1. Yes, Yes, and Yes!!! We read to Cedar all the time, and we LOVE Llama Llama Red Pajama too! I hope to also see this language explosion as he currently has about 5-6 words and I cannot wait until he has more. Thanks for sharing over at the blog hop[!

  2. Books are such a powerful tool! Kara is obsessed with reading her books and I just know that’s a big reason why her vocab (even through sign language) is huge!

  3. Reading is such an important skill. I was a reader from a very young age, and fortunately I imparted that to both my boys as well. We used to read a lot of Dr. Seuss and similar materials specifically for the rhymes and I think it helped them a great deal as they transitioned into school and learning to write/hear different sounds and syllables. I still remember a teacher I had who in 2nd grade told me when I was crying about math “Don’t worry, you read well and if you can read you can do anything”… stuck with me for life. Reading skills are essential and the earlier the better. Love these book suggestions.

  4. What a great point about rhyming words! I imagine using books with rhyming words is also a great way to develop an understanding of words with similar pronunciations but different kinds of spelling. Great book recommendations, too!

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