Reaching 2000 Words is Easy With Books!


Including at least 2000 words an hour in your child’s day sounds very daunting but is actually quite easy when you read to them and talk about what you are reading. 

Below is a list of a few of my favourite picture books; these are all found at the Library so no need to spend a penny! I counted the number of words in each of them and then thought about some questions that could be asked about the book to encourage conversation that would quickly add to the word count. I also looked for some words in each of the books that I thought kids might not know or would simply enjoy talking about.

As always, when sharing picture books with children, talking about the illustrations is a way to help children connect what they are seeing on the page with the words they are hearing. Plus the illustrations are as important to a picture book as the words themselves.

I usually read a book through once without adding much in the way of questions or conversations, then re-read the book and encourage participation and conversation. I prefer to do this because there is so much pure enjoyment in hearing a story for the first time as written by these gifted authors. Do this for each of the books listed below and you will easily have shared 2000 words or more!


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is quite possibly my favourite picture book. It has it all! Repetition, anticipation, humour, science and everyday concepts that all kids can relate to. 

Word count: 218 words

Some words to explore: stomachache, cocoon, sausage, lollipop, salami, pickle, nibbled

Things to do together:

Count the pieces of fruit together. 

Say “But he was still hungry” together (kids will quickly do this on their own… point to the words on the page and before you know it they will recognize these words as they are spoken!)

Things to talk about:

Concepts such as days of the week, numbers (1-5), healthy eating, metamorphosis

Why do you think the caterpillar had a stomachache at the end of Saturday?

The caterpillar ate lots of different foods from Monday to Saturday… what would you like to eat?

Have you ever seen a cocoon (or chrysalis)?

Did you know a caterpillar turns into a butterfly? Did you know this is called “metamorphosis” (kids love saying this word!)?

What other things in nature change?


Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt is destined to be a classic Canadian picture book. It has a lot going on in each page so you can read it and re-read it and always discover more. It tends to work best with children around 4 years and older because of the ‘comic book’ style of the illustrations.

Word count: 594 words

Some words to explore: venturing into the unknown, tarantulas, predictable, routine, unexpected, prepared, antibacterial soap, calamine lotion, dramatization, incredible, adventurous, carefree

Things to talk about:

Why do you think Scaredy is afraid?

How many other things do you think Scaredy Squirrel could be afraid of?

What are the advantages or disadvantages of leaving the nut tree?

What did he discover when he fell out of the tree? How did this change his routine? Do you think he can change it even more?


The Napping House by Audrey Wood is a fun cumulative story with gorgeous illustrations. It quickly becomes a favourite for families and encourages ‘chiming’ in.

Word count: 278 words

Some words to explore: snoozing, dozing, dreaming, snoring, cozy, slumbering, wakeful

Things to do together:

Say “Where everyone is sleeping” together.

Things to talk about:

Can you guess who will come to bed next?

How many different words are used to describe “sleeping”?

What else could have woken the mouse besides a flea?

How do the colours in the pictures change when everyone starts waking up?


Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is a beautiful story about family and love with lots of repetition of key phrases that encourage children to ‘read along’. The ending is powerful and never fails to bring a tear to my eye!

Word count: 534 words

Some words to explore: frazzled, unsightly, shrunken, droop, handkerchief, tattered, splotched, splattered, suspenders, kaput, scritch, scratch

Things to do together:

Do the actions to: “his scissors went snip, snip, snip and his needle flew in and out and in and out”.

Encourage children to say the words along with you for the many phrases that are repeated throughout the story.

Things to talk about:

Why did Grandpa make clothes for his grandson?

Even after the button is gone, it and all the other things that grandpa made from the blanket, still live on? How does this happen?

Joseph and his Grandpa are obviously very special to each other?  Who is special to you? Why?

Did you notice the story going on at the bottom of each page?  What is happening?


Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

Word count: 290 words

Some words to explore: favourite, groovy, goodness, belly button, stuff

Things to do together:

Say the phrases together that are repeated throughout the story.

Things to talk about:

What colour are Pete’s buttons?

Can you count backwards from 5?

What do you think groovy means?  What else is groovy?

Where does Pete go in the story? How does he get there?

Would you cry if you lost your buttons?


If you liked this list, check out some more here.

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