The Importance of Vocabulary

I think we all know the importance of vocabulary for our children. The more words they know, the easier it is to read and comprehend difficult books and texts.


The Importance of Vocabulary for Beginning Readers

Do you have a beginning reader? Not sure? Take this quiz to find out! Beginning readers are just learning to read. They are starting to learn decoding strategies where they sound out words. When a beginning reader sounds out a word, if they know the word, they continue to read and it makes sense to them.

However, if this same beginning reader does not know what the word they sounded out, they may continue to try to sound out the word. They may keep reading even if they have not read the correct word. Either way, correct or incorrect, they do not know the word so they do not understand what they are reading. Remember, the whole goal of reading is to understand what we are reading. Vocabulary is a huge part of reading comprehension.

In 2000, the National Reading Panel identified vocabulary as one of the five core components of effective literacy instruction for primary grades.

The Importance of Vocabulary for Fluent Readers

If you have a Fluent Reader Freddie (find out here if you do!), Vocabulary is important in learning to read and reading to learn. When texts become more complex, the vocabulary becomes more difficult. Content vocabulary needs to be explicitly taught.

How to Develop Your Child’s Vocabulary

The very best way to build your child’s vocabulary is to READ ALOUD to them. There is a lot of reading research that supports the text in picture books contains more diverse vocabulary than your typical conversation with your child.

Reading aloud provides SO much meaning through:

  • tone
  • hand gestures
  • facial expressions

Reading together fosters active learning. You naturally pause to add information, explain a word, or answer your child’s questions. Simply by reading together you are encouraging and fostering vocabulary development.

Why Read Aloud?

If you’ve heard of the push for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, there is a LOT of research on the importance of early literacy. The founders of this movement state:

“The most important predictor of school success is being read to at home during early childhood.”

The benefits of reading to your child are not just for vocabulary growth. You are fostering that love of reading from an early age and building a reading relationship together. If you are looking for great books to read aloud for all ages, you can check out this post!


I think this graph above just reiterates the importance of reading daily. So, your child could be exposed to almost 2 million words per year or less than 10,000 depending on how much they are reading daily. If that’s not incentive to set up a daily reading plan, I don’t know what is 😉

If you are looking for book lists based on your child’s ability as a reader to add to that vocabulary growth, be sure to click here to take the quiz and you’ll get one delivered straight to your inbox! Happy reading!

Kim Creigh, M.Ed