Verbs: Marvelous Motion Words!

Move your body to connect words with meaning in books

What is more fun than reading a book? Reading a book and working on building other skills at the same time!

Reading books aloud is a crucial early literacy activity that stimulates the brain of both the reader and the listener. (Yes, you are working your brain, too, grown person!) Libraries promote reading to build literacy skills. And we’re good at it.

But it is not all you can do to build a reader.

What if I told you that you can super-charge and cross-train your mind to build your early literacy skills even more?

Entering stage left: VERBS.

A verb is a word that describes an action. These marvelous motion words create windows of opportunity to connect words with meaning. Once words have meaning, little brains start connecting dots with not only what is on the page but also what they see and do in the world.

Scaredy SquirrelSay you are reading out loud with your child and they are enthralled with the story, wondering how “Scaredy Squirrel” is going to get out of his latest shenanigans. As Scaredy Squirrel leaps, cowers, panics, stumbles, plays dead or any other number of things that that involve action (yay verbs!), encourage your child to act alongside the book.

If they aren’t sure what the word means, ask them to look at the picture and take a guess. Talk about the word and answer any clarifying questions your child might have. Then, you can demonstrate the action to help define it further. If you are moving, your child will want to move, too!

Physical movement can help make sense of words and their meaning outside the actions on the page. Acting out stories can help children build deeper meaning and connection with the book. Adding movement will add value, meaning and fun to your reading sessions.

So cross-train those little brains! If the book inspires movement, move your body, too! Moving together will help make reading fun for everyone.

Other Build A Reader Activities

You can also cross-train in other ways by bringing in all five Build A Reader Activities to your reading session:

  • Talk about what unfamiliar words mean or what our favorite squirrel friend is doing in the pictures.
  • Sing out silly parts of a book or break down long words into a song to help your little one hear the parts of the word more clearly.
  • Read all your books again and again. Repetition is key to learning!
  • Write by tracing your finger over your favorite letter in the book.
  • Play and move alongside your books by finding the verbs.

Do all these Build A Reader Activities to build your little reader’s comprehension of the words in the context of the greater world beyond the page.

LEAP, I tell you. LEAP!

If the book inspires movement, move your body with your child.

Book Recommendations

Move along with these great books:

Hands Up

I Got The Rhythm

How Do You Dance

Dinos On Kitty Island

Julia Cantrell has been in youth services at the Tulsa City-County Library for more than a decade, landing at the Peggy Helmerich Library as Youth Librarian last fall. Her reading-related videos during the pandemic kept many parents and children both entertained and interested in learning.

Why We Love Ms. Julia!

By Laura Raphael, MA, MLIS, Children’s Services Coordinator

Julia Cantrell Storytime 8 Rgb

Photo courtesy Tulsa City-County Library

Julia Cantrell is a natural comedian, combining the liquid face of Jim Carrey with the quick-witted words of Wanda Sykes. Want to laugh until you can’t breathe? Don’t head to the comedy club – catch Ms. Julia’s storytime!

Fortunately for us, she also is well-versed in child development and all the ways to support language and literacy in growing brains and is eager to share her knowledge with parents, educators and other library staff.

For example, during the height of the pandemic, she became a YouTube star, recording short videos recommending books and activities for parents and children in lockdown. This led to her developing a “Video-brarian” training course for her fellow children’s staff members, showing them everything from how to record and edit videos to finding ways to interject humor in their scripts.

Catch Ms. Julia at weekly storytimes at the Peggy Helmerich or in videos at!

Laura Raphael is the Children’s Services Coordinator for the Tulsa City-County Library.

Aug 2022 Books Pin

Categories: Books and Literacy