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Pre-K

Growing Reader

Celebrate Word Nerd Day With These Word-Centric Picture Books

by Dena McMurdie

picture-books-about-words
Background credit: Manamigraphic/Shutterstock

January 9th is National Word Nerd Day, and what better way to commemorate it than by reading books that celebrate words? Thankfully, the world is full of word nerds (also called authors), and they’ve created numerous books that you and your kids will love. Whether you’re interested in true stories about famous wordsmiths from history or a fun fictional story, these picture books are the perfect thing to read for Word Nerd Day.

  • Theo TheSaurus

    by Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Mike Moran

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    All dino-obsessed kids know that a thesaurus is a dinosaur that loves words. Unfortunately, the other young dinos at Theo TheSaurus’s new school don’t know that. So, when he sends out his birthday invites, nobody can understand what they say. Will anyone come to his party? Kids will love learning unfamiliar words with this sweet story about friendship.

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  • A Walk in the Words

    by Hudson Talbott

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    In this stunning autobiographical picture book, the author shares his experiences with dyslexia, reading challenges, and self-acceptance. Even though he loved reading, Hudson couldn’t read as quickly as his friends. However, he embraced his unique learning style with time and persistence and eventually became an award-winning author and illustrator.

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  • Words to Make a Friend

    by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Naoko Stoop

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    We all know that words are important, but does that mean you can’t be friends when someone speaks a different language? Not at all! This gorgeous picture book has words in both English and Japanese, and it teaches readers that friendship can stretch across the divide that words don’t always fill.

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  • If a Horse Had Words

    by Kelly Cooper, illustrated by Lucy Eldridge

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    Get ready to have your heart stolen by this story about a foal and the boy she loves. The young horse and the boy are inseparable until she gets sold at auction. She doesn’t expect to see him again, but years later, fate brings them back together. Filled with stunning prose that will melt your heart, this feel-good picture book celebrates those friendships that require no words at all.

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  • 16 Words

    by Lisa Rogers, illustrated by Chuck Groenink

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    Inspire an appreciation for words and poetry in your child with this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams. Readers will get a feel for William’s life, hometown, and creative process, and it will help young word lovers understand the work that goes into creating a piece of poetry like “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

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  • The Word Pirates

    by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

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    Swords and pens clash in this delightfully wacky picture book about a group of pirates who steal words from stories—and eat them. From the long, chewy words to the short, crunchy ones, they gobble up every word they can find. Thankfully, the Word Wizard has a plan to stop the salty sea dogs from ruining any more stories. Kids that love wordplay, pirates, and humor will adore this swashbuckling escapade.

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  • Noah Webster

    by Pegi Deitz Shea, illustrated by Monica Vachula

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    We’re all familiar with Webster’s dictionary, but there’s more to this notable word lover than his monumental glossary. He was also an advocate for universal education, a newspaper editor, and America’s first bestselling author. Filled with fascinating facts about your favorite dictionary’s author, this picture book biography is a must-read for any word nerd.

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  • Wordy Birdy

    by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dave Mottram

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    This humorous picture book gives words a new twist. Wordy Birdy talks nonstop. And because she’s so busy talking, she doesn’t notice where she’s going. It’s a good thing she has a couple of friends to steer her out of trouble. This picture book tickles the funny bone as it teaches readers the importance of listening.

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  • Will's Words

    by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by John Shelley

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    As any Shakespeare lover can tell you, the Bard of Avon had a widespread and lasting impact on the English language. This picture book biography chronicles his life, accomplishments, and the words and phrases he made famous. It will surprise you how many everyday sayings come from his plays.

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  • Digging for Words

    by Angela Burke Kunkel, illustrated by Paola Escobar

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    You’ll feel inspired by this story about a garbage collector in Colombia who created a library by saving books he found along his route. Word spread quickly, and children came to his library every weekend to read. This heartwarming story will give you an extra boost of appreciation for the little free libraries you see popping up in neighborhoods everywhere.

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  • Desmond and the Very Mean Word

    by Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by A.G. Ford

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    Words have power, and it’s up to each of us to decide how to use them. In this book, based on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood, he shares a story about a boy who has a terrible word yelled at him. The book champions kindness, recognizing our words’ effect on others, and forgiving people who’ve hurt us—even if they don’t apologize.

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  • Lexie the Word Wrangler

    by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrated by Jessie Hartland

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    Help Lexie the cowgirl wrangle words in this upbeat picture book. Between caring for baby letters, roping words together, and mixing up batches of new words every morning, Lexie has her hands full. When a word rustler starts playing tricks with the words, Lexie must track him down and make him stop. Fun illustrations, cheerful text, and plenty of wordplay makes this book a delight to read.

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