Sunday, September 5, 2010

A children's dictionary - an essential school supply

I was surprised when our school supplies lists came out in August that a dictionary wasn't listed as an essential school supply. Starting in 3rd or 4th grade, it's crucial to have a good children's dictionary easily accessible at home. Dictionaries are intimidating to start with (so many words!), so it's important to have one that matches your child's reading level. Our dictionaries are now out of date, and so I'm excited to get the Scholastic Children's Dictionary for grades 3 - 6.
Scholastic Children's Dictionary
NY: Scholastic, 2010
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local bookstore
This brand-new edition of the Scholastic Children's Dictionary is a solid, easy to use children's dictionary. The design makes it easy to find words and understand their meanings and uses. It has a good range of words for children in upper elementary grades - words such as abhor, abide and abrasive. Each entry includes part of speech, brief definition, sample sentence, and a pronunciation guide.

I was especially impressed with the language used in the definitions when I compared this dictionary to other student dictionaries we have. It uses simple but clear and precise language to define words children will encounter in their reading and schoolwork. Here's an example:
Scholastic Children's Dictionary:
abhor: "to hate someone or something. Alix abhors romantic movies."

Concise Oxford Dictionary:
abhor: "to regard with disgust or hatred"
The Scholastic Children's Dictionary is precise and yet easy for children to understand. One of my biggest frustrations is when dictionaries define words in a complicated way, confusing students who are trying to do the right thing when they don't understand a word.

This edition has been updated for 2010, including hundreds of new entries and definitions, color pictures and illustrations, and interesting word histories. It also includes a thesaurus, maps, state and country facts, and information on the US presidents in the back matter.

I have not found a new dictionary for middle school students that I really like. Do you have one that you use and think works well?

For more nonfiction book reviews, head over to Miss Rumphius Effect for Nonfiction Monday, a round-up of nonfiction books across the Kidlitosphere.

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