The Expressive Word

Jan 23, 2014 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Book Picks, Early Literacy

Some of the most fun books to read aloud are those with only one or two words per page…or even one, or two, words per book!  The word may be placed in different situations, and must convey a variety of emotions and intentions. The following books make fun read alouds that lead to a great discussion about how the characters are feeling.

Hug by Jez Alborough

So, for instance, in the book “Hug!”  by Jez Alborough the chimp in the book starts out rather cheerful and gets more and more upset as he misses his mother and wants her to give him a hug.  At the end, we get a reunion that brings him from tears of distress to the delight of seeing his Mom.  This is a marvelously fun book to read, because you can explore the feeling sounds that make the same word communicate something different.

Have some animal toys to hug after reading this one, especially huggable plush ones. You can talk about how sometimes we like to be hugged, and sometimes we don’t.  It’s good to be able to ask for a hug when you need one, and also good to be able to tell people when you don’t feel like a hug, as well.


Yo! Yes?  by Chris Raschka

This book is an Essential Literature pick from Alignment Nashville, and the story is a conversation between two boys that takes place in monosyllables which are very expressive.  This book is fun because the punctuation, and the color of the print, changes how you say the word.  You can also spend time looking at the pictures to see if your child can identify how the boys are feeling, then say the words in that manner.

This is a book about making friends and how, even when we’re feeling shy, it feels good to receive an open-hearted offer of friendship.

It’s also a great tool for introducing the question mark (and exclamation point) as something that communicates how we read. A question mark tells us to go up in pitch, which is a way that we can tell it is a question. You can help your child listen for and learn to identify questions.

Asking good questions is the main way that your child learn about the world.  Ask your child often, “Did you ask a good question today?”


Moo!  By David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Cow seizes adventure when the farmer leaves his car in the field, and this book gives the word “Moo” a real emotional workout.  Whether it communicates interest in something new, panic when the car flies out of control, or guilty excuses to a policeman…as a reader, it’s so much fun to play with pitch, speed and expressions.  And when the cow tries to pass the blame off on an innocent sheep, your child will enjoy a fine giggle.



Let your inner diva come out and make these books with few words come to life with great emotion and high drama.  Enjoy!



1 Comment + Add Comment

  • Your post inspired me! I came across Hug at our local Goodwill on Saturday and also found Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola without any words. My 3 year old son has requested we “read” them from sun up to sun down everyday since then, alternating who gets to make up the story. They have also activated his imaginative play. Thank you!

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