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Books about Words

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Words, words, words! Language has a power like no other, and many budding linguists begin to develop a fascination during childhood with words and their origins. Author Patrick Skipworth picks 5 fantastic non-fiction titles for children sure to kickstart a broader interest in languages, just like our own.

Ben Handicott
 & Kenard Pak

Celebrating diversity through learning about other languages around the globe, this book comes with an app that offers recordings of phrases from the book. In the book, children from all over the world introduce themselves in their native languages, then readers can listen to native speakers repeat the phrases in the app to hear how they really sound.

Jane Solomon
 & Louise Lockhart

Tricky words can be a brilliant challenge for any child with an interest in languages. They might just enjoy the funny way the sounds mix together (my favourite word in English has to be mosaic for the way the vowels flow together in the final syllable), or the buzz of knowing facts that your friends or parents don’t. This book is full of tough words from the English language. I learned a few new ones myself, including leafdom, meaning an area so overgrown with foliage that it seems like another world.

Jezz Zafarris

One for all future linguistics geeks including adults, this is a great book for introducing the incredible stories hidden inside every word. Offering so much more than just a definition and an etymology each entry tells the story of how words came to mean what they do in an engaging and easily understandable style. Explanations of roots, prefixes and suffixes help support language skills and build vocabulary along the way.

Robert Macfarlane
 & Jackie Morris

The Lost Words is a collaboration between Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, seeking to ‘summon what has vanished’ and celebrate a host of disappearing words relating to the natural world. This is a poetry book about preservation – of nature, of language and of childhood – and the beautifully illustrated over-sized hardback volume is in itself a book to preserve and treasure. Inside the book, readers will find acrostic ‘poem-spells’, with each one intending to preserve a nature word that has disappeared from the dictionary as well as to evoke the unique sounds, sensations and moods associated with the experiences of encountering wildlife firsthand.

Inspired by the removal of a number of nature words from children’s dictionaries while the same plants and animals are in very real decline, this magnificent book will please children and adults alike. Each word is accompanied by a breathtaking illustration and poem (or ‘spell’ – the authors encourage you to sing them). Children with an interest in the natural world will discover new words along the way.

Patrick Skipworth
 & Nicholas Stevenson

A stunning non-fiction picture book about the origins of the English Language. You’ll be surprised at the global and cultural diversity hidden in the words we use every day.

Did you know that English words come from all over the world? And often their meanings have changed over time? Find out about the journeys of a selection of words from the English Language in this visual resource. Each word is paired with a two-page spread illustration, which takes inspiration from the origins of the word itself. Find out more over on our blog.

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