The most recommended vocabulary books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to vocabulary, and here are their favorite vocabulary books.
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Book cover of I Am Purpose

Dawn Doig Author Of Hair Peace

From my list on inspire children to be happy with who they are.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, but inherited ‘travelling DNA’ from my sailor father which has led to a life of work and travel around the globe. In addition to being an audiologist and teacher, I am also the author (and sometimes illustrator) of 15 children’s picture books. Many of my books have been inspired by the special children I have had the privilege to work with as both an audiologist and teacher. My books are on a variety of topics including childhood hearing loss, dysgraphia and writing challenges, bullying and forgiveness, learning English as an additional language, and positive self-image. Some of my books are written to evoke giggles and belly laughs. 

Dawn's book list on inspire children to be happy with who they are

Dawn Doig Why did Dawn love this book?

Cute story about a little seed named Purpose who wants to be a tree. I love the picture where he looks so tiny next to the flower and he is holding a leaf in each hand with a sprout coming out of his head. He is oblivious to the fact that what he longs for is already growing inside him. The author has done a wonderful job incorporating the special “talents” of nature to counsel Purpose about the true potential that dwells within him. A great story for children who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. This story would also be great for adults who doubt their abilities or question their potential. A source of inspiration for all ages

By Icia Ragsdale, Zsade Fleming (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Purpose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I am Purpose is a fictional children's book that uses nature to share in the journey of a seed, Purpose, in hopes of becoming a tree. Purpose must navigate his way, while expressing emotions in a manner that teaches children to do the same. In addition to helping children develop and expand their emotional vocabulary, I am Purpose illustrates how to persevere until the end.


Book cover of Plain Words: A Guide to the Use of English

Tom Albrighton Author Of How to Write Clearly: Write with purpose, reach your reader and make your meaning crystal clear

From my list on to make your writing crystal clear.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been working with words for over 25 years, as a writer and editor in publishing houses, design studios, and now as a freelance. I help everyone from big brands and small businesses through to academics and consultants get their ideas out of their heads and on to the page. I was an original co-founder of ProCopywriters, the UK alliance for commercial writers. I’ve written and self-published four books, the most recent of which is How to Write Clearly. The books I’ve chosen all helped me to write as clearly as I can—not least when writing about writing itself. I hope they help you too! 

Tom's book list on to make your writing crystal clear

Tom Albrighton Why did Tom love this book?

I first read this as a teenager, and its wise counsel has stayed with me ever since. Gowers’ book was originally written as a guide for British government workers, to help them avoid the perils of jargon and ‘officialese’ and write in a way that colleagues and (more importantly) the person in the street could actually understand. 

The fact that I could immediately apply the ideas to my school essays shows you why this book has been continuously in print since the 1950s, and why generations of writers have found it so useful in shaping their own style. 

Practicing exactly what he preaches, Gowers lays down the principles of plain English, in plain English. Read and see why this deserves to be called a classic.

By Ernest Gowers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plain Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Be short, be simple, be human.'

When Sir Ernest Gowers first wrote Plain Words, it was intended simply as a guide to the proper use of English for the Civil Service. Within a year, however, its humour, charm and authority had made it a bestseller. Since then it has never been out of print.

Six decades on, writer Rebecca Gowers has created a new edition of this now-classic work that both revises and celebrates her great-grandfather's original. Plain Words has been updated to reflect numerous changes in English usage, yet Sir Ernest's distinctive, witty voice is undimmed. And his message…


Book cover of Ounce Dice Trice

Julie Paschkis Author Of The Wordy Book

From my list on picture books that play with words.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been creating picture books for 30 years. Picture books are a combination of words and language - that’s what I am drawn to. I love vivid language and art that tells stories. I love wordplay and cornball puns. I savor a perfectly crafted sentence in proper English, but I am not a stickler for perfect grammar. I like slang, pig-latin, and mistakes. I enjoy the sound of languages that I know and that I don’t know. I hope that you enjoy all of these wordy books, including mine.

Julie's book list on picture books that play with words

Julie Paschkis Why did Julie love this book?

This book is an ode to the pleasures of words - their sound, look, and meaning. It consists of lists of words such as "words to read backward" including drows, mulp and gubdeb. Or "heavy words" such as duffle, blunderbuss, and galoshes. "Words for times of day" include dusk, owl cry, dewfall, and gloaming.

It is perfectly illustrated by Ben Shahn with black and white line drawings. The scratchy, uneven, expressive lines perfectly capture both the humor and gravity of the words. I have loved these books since I was a child and The Wordy Book sprang out of that love.

By Alastair Reid, Ben Shahn (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ounce Dice Trice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What can words be, or rather, what can’t they be? Poet Alastair Reid introduces children and adults to the wondrous waywardness of words in Ounce Dice Trice, a delicious confection and a wildly unexpected exploration of sound and sense and nonsense that is like nothing else. Reid offers light words (willow, whirr, spinnaker) and heavy words (galoshes, mugwump, crumb), words on the move and odd words, words that read both ways and words that read the wrong way around (rezagrats), along with much else. Accompanied by Ben Shahn’s glorious drawings, Ounce Dice Trice is a book of endless delights, not…


Book cover of Stand Like a Cedar

Uma Krishnaswami Author Of Out of the Way! Out of the Way!

From my list on picture books about trees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and grew up in India. As a child, I once planted a mango seed and watched it sprout and grow into a sapling. We moved away after that but I always wondered what might have become of that little tree. I remembered that long-ago experience when I was writing my picture book, Out of the Way! Out of the Way! in which a boy, a tree, and a road all grow together. The tree is central to that book, so I picked five picture book titles that also center trees. 

Uma's book list on picture books about trees

Uma Krishnaswami Why did Uma love this book?

I loved the musicality of this book and its bilingual construction.

I appreciated the centering of the Indigenous languages historically known as Thompson River and Coast Salish. It challenged me to look into the glossary in the back, to pore over the pronunciation guides, to lose myself briefly in the representation of unfamiliar, beautiful sounds while knowing they mean the world to those who hold them dear.

English translations (loon or earth or snake, or even the questions in the refrain) are placed within glancing reach in small print and the first-person narrative is a journey through particular, beloved landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

By Nicola I Campbell, Carrielynn Victor (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stand Like a Cedar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When you go for a walk in nature, who do you see? What do you hear?

Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell shows what it means to “stand like a cedar” on this beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłeʔkepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Experience a celebration of sustainability and connection to the land through lyrical storytelling and Carrielynn Victor’s breathtaking art in this children’s illustrated book.

Discover new sights and sounds with every read. A glossary and pronunciation guide can be found at the…


Book cover of The List

Sue-Ellen Pashley Author Of The Rise

From my list on dystopian books with watery issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author who, in my ‘other’ life, has studied psychology and social work, I love to write about the impact of change on individuals and communities – what do my characters grieve, what relationships become important to them, what are the roles or goals that motivate them now and what do they need to do to survive, both individually and in their new society. And I love to be able to write about a place – a location – that I know well, hence the Sunshine Coast Hinterland as a setting for The Rise. I hope you enjoy the books that I’ve recommended as much as I have!

Sue-Ellen's book list on dystopian books with watery issues

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did Sue-Ellen love this book?

This is one of those books I thought about long after I’d finished reading. Through human greed and global warming, the resulting decimation of the planet means food and water are rationed for survival…but so are words. Noa, the leader of the community, believes that words and how they were used, led to the downfall of humanity so allows people to only use a list of specific words. Except for the wordsmiths, who are allowed to know them all. 

As an author whose life is all about words, this was a really interesting book to read – what does it do to a society when ideas, thoughts, creativity are stifled by lack of words? And when everything is rationed – water, food, words, enjoyment – what does that do to a community?

By Patricia Forde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver in an award winning dystopian story about the dangers of censorship and how far we will go in the pursuit of freedom.

What if you were only allowed to speak 500 words?

The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth: the polar ice caps have melted and flooded everything, leaving few survivors. To make sure humans do not make the same mistakes, Ark's leader John Noa decrees everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words. Language is to blame for mankind's destruction, John Noa says, as politicians and…


Book cover of The Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder

James Phelps Author Of Australia's Most Infamous Jail: Inside the walls of Pentridge Prison

From my list on getting any writer started in the industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about this book list because it helped me get where I am today, a multiple-times bestselling author and an award-winning senior reporter. I began working as an overnight police round reporter before moving into sports, where I became one of Australia's best news-breaking rugby league journalists. I was then appointed News Corp Australia's Chief National Motorsports Writer and traveled the world chasing Formula 1 story, as well as covering Australia's V8 Supercar races. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for me, this list of books helped me begin and continue to grow to reach the level of success that I have.

James' book list on getting any writer started in the industry

James Phelps Why did James love this book?

So, if builders go to Bunnings to find their tools and I go to Rogets for mine, well then, Merriam-Webster is just another brand of hardware store for writers. But let’s call this one Mitre Ten.

This is a staple of a home office when writing. Have it sitting there in plain sight all day long while you write.

By Merriam-Webster (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The perfect book for expanding your working vocabulary and an indispensable tool for students preparing for standardized tests.

250 Greek and Latin roots aid in the learning of 1,000 words along with over 2,000 closely related terms Features helpful usage examples and quizzes to test your memory Organized by Greek and Latin roots– the building blocks of English vocabulary Perfect for students prepping for standardized tests including SAT, ACT, TOEFL, and TOEIC

*BOOK COVER DESIGNS MAY VARY: We recently redesigned the Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder book cover so some customers may receive the original design and others may receive the new…


Book cover of Rápido, Rápido

Patricia Lorente Author Of 100 Entertaining Short Stories to Practice Your Spanish in Present Tense

From my list on improving your Spanish.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and a Spanish teacher. Creative and a little crazy. I love teaching people who arrive in my city (Madrid) to live for a while. I love writing fiction, specially novels, but also poetry and little stories. Sometimes I mix both skills and create texts as the one below. I dream about winning the lottery but I never buy tickets, and I also love to sing with my guitar when I’m alone. Pleased to meet you.

Patricia's book list on improving your Spanish

Patricia Lorente Why did Patricia love this book?

This is a classic whole year (or semester) method to learn Spanish. I recommend it both for teachers and students since it is so complete and so well structured, that it can be well profited from both sides. 

The method is designed to fast forward and the new versions have been improved with the help of teachers who already used it, which is so interesting. It’s well organized: 18 units divided in 5 points each (goals; texts-oral and written; grammar; activities for grammar and lexic practice; and a final task to be ideally prepared in group: a script for a radio show).

The pack is completed with audios that show the differences between Spanish language all over the world.

By Lourdes Miquel López, Neus Sans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rápido, Rápido as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

El Cuaderno de ejercicios de Rápido, rápido acompaña y complementa al Libro del alumno y está especialmente dedicado a la fijación del léxico, a la práctica de la expresión oral y escrita, a la ejercitación de la comprensión lectora, a la reflexión sobre la morfología y la sintaxis, y al refuerzo del aprendizaje de los contenidos lingüísticos. Los ejercicios pueden ser un complemento en el aula o bien formar parte del trabajo individual del alumno en casa. Se incluye un práctico índice de contenidos al principio de cada unidad. Cada unidad incluye un capítulo de la novela En Barcelona sin…


Book cover of Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers: Over 2,300 Emotive, Evocative, Descriptive Synonyms, Antonyms, and Related Terms Every Writer Should Know

James Phelps Author Of Australia's Most Infamous Jail: Inside the walls of Pentridge Prison

From my list on getting any writer started in the industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about this book list because it helped me get where I am today, a multiple-times bestselling author and an award-winning senior reporter. I began working as an overnight police round reporter before moving into sports, where I became one of Australia's best news-breaking rugby league journalists. I was then appointed News Corp Australia's Chief National Motorsports Writer and traveled the world chasing Formula 1 story, as well as covering Australia's V8 Supercar races. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for me, this list of books helped me begin and continue to grow to reach the level of success that I have.

James' book list on getting any writer started in the industry

James Phelps Why did James love this book?

A builder has a tool belt. In that belt, he has a hammer, a drill, a level, a tape measure, and so on. He needs those tools to build whatever he is going to build. 

A writer has a tool belt tool. In that belt, the writer has words. The writer uses those words to build, too–not houses but stories. And unless you are planning on building a shabby shack, you need to fill that tool belt of yours with as many words as you can find. 

I’ve been writing for 23 years, but I still try to add at least five new words to my tool belt every day. Builders go to Bunnings to find their tools. I go to Rogets.

By David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes , Robert W Bly

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ultimate tool for writers!
Whether you're crafting the next great American novel or pounding away at a last-minute blog entry, there will come a time in the process when you struggle to find just the perfect word or phrase. Under the time-tested banner of Roget's Thesaurus, this collection will quickly become the most essential tool on your desk when you're working on your next piece. Far from an ordinary word list, each entry in this book is organized by meaning and offers a list of compelling word choices that relate to the ideas you'd like to use. It also…


Book cover of The Word Collector

Heather Hartt-Sussman Author Of Noni Says No

From my list on picture books parents will love.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written seven picture books, one of which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and many of which have been award nominees. My books have been translated into five languages and are enjoyed by kids from Denmark to Korea. As a mom, I know that when a child loves a book they want it read to them repeatedly. That’s why I admire books that are written for the enjoyment of both the adult and the child. I dislike preachy books filled with lessons. I prefer when books entertain and contain a nugget of gold that readers can take with them when the book is done.

Heather's book list on picture books parents will love

Heather Hartt-Sussman Why did Heather love this book?

This is another fave of mine because the protagonist is a boy who collects words (rather than stamps or baseball cards). He saves the words he’s learned in a scrapbook until one day, he trips and his words go flying into the air and land in a jumble on the floor. What he discovers are odd and interesting pairings of words he wouldn’t have thought go together. The result is poetic. Finally, he takes a big sack of words to the top of a hill and scatters them into the wind so other kids will make their own connections. This book is fantastic for kids and adults who love words.

By Peter H. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Word Collector as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From the beloved bestselling creator of The Dot and our own Happy Dreamer comes an inspiring story about the transformative and profound power of words.

A New York Times BestsellerNamed an Outstanding Literary Work for Children by the NAACPSome people collect stamps. Some people collect coins. Some people collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words . . . In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him -- short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.From the creator…


Book cover of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever

Meghan Cox Gurdon Author Of The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

From my list on picture books to build a baby’s brain.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist, WSJ book critic, and mother of five, I‘ve been perfectly placed to witness the astounding effects of reading aloud. For decades I've been reading to my children (and to my husband, too) every night, often for a solid hour or more. Storytime has been the central civilizing joy of our family life: We’ve bonded emotionally, gone on shared imaginative adventures, and filled our heads with pictures and words. Long ago I knew something big was happening to us, and I felt sure my children were benefitting, but it wasn’t until I began digging around into the behavioral and brain science that I learned just how consequential reading aloud can be. In my book, I lay it all out.

Meghan's book list on picture books to build a baby’s brain

Meghan Cox Gurdon Why did Meghan love this book?

Try to get your hands on the original 1963 edition that made Richard Scarry‘s fortune and allowed him to move his family to Switzerland, for the skiing. It’s a fabulous book that’s crowded with scenes of purpose and industry, and with labeled pictures that bespeak the world’s exciting wideness. There are birds (the quail, pheasant, wren, bittern), buildings (a cathedral, pyramid, fort, skyscraper), flowers (clover, pansies, asters, foxgloves), and houses (the igloo, grass house, half-timbered house, chalet). Over time, subsequent editions were stripped of this eccentric specificity and of Scarry’s courtly depictions of traditional social roles (gone, for instance, are the “handsome pilot” and the “pretty stewardess”).

By Richard Scarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When his publisher first saw the sketches for this book in 1962, he proclaimed: "Why, this is simply the best word book EVER!" He was right: it still is!