Books tell stories—both factual and imagined—and most stories need words to communicate the writer’s ideas to the reader. Words, like books, come in all shapes and sizes and can be put together in ways both traditional and creative. Let’s celebrate words with some recent picture books about them!
Let’s start with Ivan Brunetti’s beginning reader book Wordplay (Toon Books). Told through as many frolicking images as words themselves, this offers a fine and fun introduction to compound words. Kids can impress their friends with their ability to read words with lots of letters once they know that many of those long words are really multiple words hitched together to create new ones.
A Tangle of Brungles, by Shobha Viswanath and illustrated by Culpeo Fox (Karadi Tales), tells a witchy good story that features collective nouns. Discover what to call a multiplicity of cobras—and that group of witches at the heart of the story!
The California Reading Association’s Eureka Award Honor title Literally, by Patrick Skipworth with illustrations by Nicholas Stevenson (What On Earth Books), gives us a worldwide tour to show how English has borrowed some commonly used words from many places and indigenous languages. Find out from where we borrowed “companion” and what it literally meant at its origin. How about the travels the word “potato” made, along with the popular food?
Maybe now you’re saying you’ll believe me about these word histories….
I’ll Believe You When…, by Susan Schubert and illustrated by Raquel Bonita (Lantana Publishing), also takes us around the world. This time, however, we discover where and how the title idiom is phrased in other places. Each such phrase is provided in its English translation; the point here is how different languages, and cultures, rely on specific reference points even when speaking imaginatively. Idiomatic phrases can paint engaging and intriguing images in our minds’ eyes, as does the artwork here.
Finally (just for now) we’ll end with a picture book told from the perspective of…a dictionary! Calvin Gets the Last Word, by Margo Sorenson with illustrations by Mike Deas (Tilbury House Publishers), features a boy in pursuit of words—and a way to find just the right one for his little brother.
All of these picture books use rich imagery to support their texts, making them excellent paths to discovering words as colorful, action-packed adventures in themselves.