Imagine a classroom where each new word opens a door to understanding and expression.

As educators, we know the magic that happens when a child learns a new word. Teaching reading isn’t just about teaching students how to read but it’s about setting the stage where each student falls in love with every letter and every word!

Have you had a chance to read the book Donovan’s Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross? It’s a story about a young boy named Donovan who has a hobby of collecting words. He stores his new and interesting collection of words in a special jar. The story is not just about his love for words, but it also highlights the beauty of language. This text encourages children to appreciate and enjoy the richness of vocabulary.

Like Donovan, we as teachers of literacy love words and know the power of vocabulary development. Expanding vocabulary in young readers is crucial for several reasons, such as overall language development, increased reading proficiency, and healthy academic success. A large vocabulary supports reading comprehension and enhances communication skills in both writing and speaking. Additionally, building vocabulary stimulates cognitive development that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Moreover, let’s not forget the reciprocal benefits of a strong vocabulary with writing. A rich vocabulary contributes to more interesting writing where the young writer’s piece is more descriptive or persuasive, interesting, and engaging.

Vocabulary is one of the key predictors of academic achievement. However, our primary goal is to grow readers who enjoy reading and writing. Children who have a broad vocabulary tend to find reading more enjoyable which leads to increased motivation to read, which ultimately leads to more reading and extending of their vocabulary. It’s a win-win!

Download the Flying Start to Literacy: PHONICS™ Brochure at and look at the sample Vocabulary learning lesson on page 6. Jot down what you notice. Did you see how a familiar text, “Buzzing Bees” from The Big Book of Rhymes, was used to learn unfamiliar vocabulary? What do you think are the benefits of using this familiar text?

Daily vocabulary practice with meaningful and engaging texts will help expand your growing learners’ speaking, reading, and writing vocabulary. So have fun nurturing a generation of word detectives, one word at a time! Nilaja Taylor.