When I picked up my tall, nonfat extra hot latte the other day, my favorite barista at *bucks told me that her four-year-old had just learned the word, “blustery.” Appropriate for our part of the world, but pretty mind-boggling for a four-year-old to use.
Some years back, I picked our darling friend E up from school, then first grade. I asked her what they’d been learning about that day. “Viscosity,” she said in her little chipmunk voice, using a term I don’t think I learned until college.
When my daughter was 3, her favorite book was Walter de la Mare’s retelling of Molly Whuppie, which was jam-packed with words not part of typical toddler-speak: cudgel,
This has got me to wondering: how much do you think about your audience when making vocabulary choices in your writing? Do we need to? Shall we think of our stories as opportunities for children to learn new words? Or should we take care not to alienate or overwhelm with the unfamiliar?
Inquiring minds want to know.