How to use Books To Encourage MORE WORDS In Your Child

How to encourage verbal expression with books and foster a love of literature


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.

Ideas for using books to encourage MORE WORDS:

  •  Make it fun!  The child should not have an inkling that there is a “lesson”. Have fun yourself~  enjoy the cuddles and interaction.
  • 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.
  • Take advantage of counting objects when they are available. Take your child’s hand and have her finger point to the objects. You count, 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.
  • Name objects. Doggie (as you point) you can ask the child to say “doggie” . At other times, you can ask the child where the dog is. After a pause you can point to it. Sometimes you can ask “what is this?” As you point to a dog.
  • 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!
  • Change things up. Ask about different objects, sometimes count, sometimes name, sometimes point out actions.
  • Be aware of clues from your child. Sometimes first words don’t sound like that object at all.  Sometimes, especially delayed or special needs kids, a first time saying something will only be the first sound or syllable. 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 celebrated and encouraged.
  • Ryming books are great for predicting words. It is super easy for a child to learn to chime in on the rhyming word. Start by enunciating and emphasizing the rhyming word extra when you read. When you start hearing the child chime in with you, you can start pausing at that place and loking 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!

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.

Now, for Desi’s current faves!


How to encourage verbal expression with books and foster a love of literature

Choosing Books That Encourage MORE WORDS:

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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 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 aquiring lots of new words from it.

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


{Brown Bear, Brown Bear

What do you see}

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

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 rythym 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! 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!


  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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