Reviews /

Britannica’s Ready-for-School Words: 1,000 Words for Big Kids

Authored by Hannah Campbell
Illustrated by Sara Rhys
Published by Britannica Books

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Ready for School Words is a non-fiction picture book for young readers that includes 24 double-page spreads of familiar domestic and community settings labelled with the appropriate vocabulary.

The book includes an introduction by the author that discusses the importance of vocabulary and how learning new words ‘helps you see the secret connections between all kinds of things.’ There is a detailed index that includes every word used in the book, and a potentially helpful contents page that lists the various settings. I liked the inclusion of a ‘Meet the Main Characters’ page that provides labelled illustrations of the seven families. The characters are carefully portrayed as multi-racial, with a single mother and two dads included. I did notice that their occupations were largely professional, which may lead to some questioning.

The illustrations by Sara Rhys are detailed, intriguing, and colourful, and should prove attractive to young children. They act like a snapshot of each of the individual scenes and include short, explanatory sentences to support understanding. I think the book may well be useful for an adult working with an early reader, aiming to develop the breadth of a child’s vocabulary, and also potentially for children whose English is a second language.

I was a little uncertain about some of the words included for very early readers. The vocabulary ranges from the simple (drums, band, sing) to the complex (audience, cello, practise) on the Almost Show Time pages. Although the illustrations are here to help the reader, and some children may be slightly familiar with the more difficult vocabulary already, I wondered if the author was making some assumptions about the majority of early readers. I would recommend the book for use in the classroom but with the appropriate adult support.