Learning Vocabulary through Literature

World for Learning uses affiliate links, see our policies for more information.


Having a strong vocabulary is critical in so many aspects of our lives. Reading a good book, enjoying the newspaper or magazine, conversing with your boss, making an important presentation … each of these activities have one common thread. The better your vocabulary skills, the easier it is. We’ve found that learning vocabulary through literature provides excellent context and is a fun and gentle way to learn new words.

Learning Vocabulary through Literature

Let’s face it though – for many kids, vocabulary isn’t exactly a favorite subject. So how do you teach such an important subject that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to anything exciting? First, it helps to have a foundation understanding why vocabulary is so important. Click here for a good, concise article from Scholastic that answers questions such as “What words do I teach?” and “How do I teach?”.

Classic literature lays a wonderful foundation for broadening vocabulary. Like I mentioned before, learning new vocabulary through literature allows a connection to the word and its use. Each of our World Study Guides includes a vocabulary section with words from the specific book being read. These vocabulary cards can be used in any number of ways:

  • For our classic World Study Guides (lapbook style), print and cut out the vocabulary cards (there are 24 words included with each World Study Guide, along with a page of 8 blank cards). Decide if you will be using the definitions provided to stick/glue to the back of each card, or have your child hand-write the definitions. Both options are provided and explained in the World Study Guide. With our newer World Study Guides (notebook style), all of the words are provided on a single notebooking page, with blank lines for writing the definition.

World Study Guides - Vocabulary

Vocabulary Answer Key - Vocabulary through Literature

  • As your child reads the book, remind them to look for their new vocabulary words. Also, if they come across any words they don’t know that aren’t included in our list, have them use the blank cards/additional vocabulary pages to research those new words.

Be sure to keep in mind the context in which the word is used; in classic literature words often held a different meaning than what we traditionally think of today.

  • Completed vocabulary cards can be used like flash cards to help remember troublesome words. Your child can either look at the word and say the definition or vice-versa.
  • Utilize online resources like SpellingCity.com for fun activities to reinforce your vocabulary list.
  • Find ways to include your new vocabulary words into everyday conversation. This can be quite fun and challenging!

Do you have a fun or interesting way of teaching new words to your children? We’d love to hear any tips or ideas you have!

The following two tabs change content below.


I am the proud mama to 3 incredible boys. Our family began our homeschooling journey in 2006 when my oldest was in 2nd grade and the twins were barely 6 months old. I’m passionate about researching resources and activities that allow my children to use all of their senses and learning styles.

Latest posts by Kat (see all)


  1. says

    Your World Study Guides look interesting! I like the idea of learning vocabulary through literature too. We don’t do vocabulary “class” in our homeschool. We just read lots and talk about what we read, including any new words we are not familiar with. A speaker at homeschool convention one year said that is the best way to teach vocabulary and reading comprehension, (I think it was Andrew Pudwah from IEW). I think it’s working, as our children seem to have a fairly good vocabulary :) Thanks for sharing! I’m pinning this so I remember your study guides.

    • Kat says

      Thank you so much for your kind words! We’ve been using our World Study Guides as part of our Book Club co-op since 2010. It was through this co-op that we realized how valuable books were for learning new vocabulary (and the kids enjoy this learning approach!). I believe you are correct that Andrew Pudewa is a strong proponent of learning vocabulary (and grammar) through literature. Thanks for stopping by :-)

    • Kat says

      Thanks so much! Yes, I think read alouds are an awesome thing. One of my boys favorite books this past school year was Farmer Boy. They were 7 when I read it to them, definitely too young to be able to read it themselves, but they learned so many new words and thoroughly enjoyed a great classic. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Kat says

      You’re so right Emma! I think it’s much easier to learn new words by seeing them in context … literature is the perfect avenue for that. And who doesn’t love a great book 😉

    • Kat says

      That’s awesome that your daughter is inheriting your love of books! Literature opens so many wonderful doors. And learning vocabulary through literature is such a gentle and natural extension to a love of reading. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Share your thoughts...