Building vocabularies one word at a time

My son and I are reading the fourth Harry Potter book together. This is a non-negotiable situation: The first time he reads a book in the series, he has to read it with me. While he could definitely dive into it on his own, I want to be sure he and I talk through the plot along the way.

Within the first two chapters, we stopped to discuss two words that he didn't know (derelict and mirthless). The first one he figured out the definition through context clues. The second one was a bit harder, but he told me he liked knowing a new word.

When my son was little, I would read to him to help build his vocabulary - the more books we read, the more words he knew. So it makes me very happy that in these instances when he lets me read to him, he is still in a position to learn new words.

How much influence do we have over our children's vocabulary? A million words worth, but only if we are actively reading to them.

Of course, this plays out in funny ways sometimes. My husband and I have referenced the old soul in the backseat of the car who has just used the word "incongruous" correctly in a sentence. But that is the secret: When my son hears us get impressed by his "humongous" vocabulary, he just wants to learn more words to throw us for a loop.

I'm all for it.

What words have you been surprised to hear in your child's vocabulary? Tell me in the comments.

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