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Using Big Words In Kids’ Books by Elaine A. Powers, Author

My books are termed science-based and my intent is to educate while entertaining. Why? I want all readers to learn scientific facts, even the ones who say they don’t like science. The colorful illustrations in my books draw the reader in, as do the stories I tell in rhyme. Who doesn’t love rhymes? And sending curly-tail lizards on their own adventures teaches the reader about the foods the lizards eat, their natural environment and the dangers they face. Curly-tail lizards are very special—in fact, it was Curtis the curly-tail lizard who launched my writing career. 🙂

I also strongly believe that we shouldn’t talk down to children. I think they absorb words, even if they don’t fully understand the meanings when they first hear them, and that the word is planted in their memories. Later on, the terminology won’t be scary. It will be an old friend, encouraging them to learn more science. I include glossaries in some of my books with further information for curious readers.

The Word THERMOREGULATION, with each letter of the word in a different color

One term I use in my book called Don’t Make Me Rattle is THERMOREGULATION. My books are often about reptiles, who need to thermoregulate to function. They obtain their body heat from the environment, often by basking in the sun. This need results in many being killed on roads where they lay at night to obtain a bit more warmth. I was told no way could I use the word thermoregulation in a children’s book. It was too big, too advanced.

But it was the correct word—the only one. Having known toddlers who could tell me the difference between his/her toy dinosaurs, using their proper names, even correcting me when I incorrectly identified them, I concluded children can handle a “big’ word every now and then. It’s never too early to use the correct word—even if it is a big one.

Elaine A. Powers is the author of fun science-based children’s books, including those in the “Don’t” series, which are written in rhyme and vividly illustrated to draw the reader into the wonderful world of biology.

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