In picture naming, semantic context words produce either facilitation or inhibition, depending on their relationship to the target-picture name. This study used the picture–word interference task to examine facilitative effects of associates (the word carrot paired with a picture of rabbit) and inhibitory effects of coordinates (mouse paired with a rabbit) in children and adults. Experiment 1 with adults (N = 44) documented robust associate and coordinate effects with either auditory or visual presentation of interfering words. Experiment 2 used auditory presentation of interfering words with children (N = 44, 6 years, 10 months to 11 years, half with typical development, half with specific language impairment). Children showed significant facilitation from associates but no reliable coordinate interference effect. The strength of the associative priming effect in children was correlated with their language abilities (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals scores). The results indicate the dominant role of association in facilitating word retrieval in speech production in children. In children with specific language impairment, lexical access gains weaker support from networks of associations in semantic memory.