Sunday, June 21, 2020

Dictionary for a Better World--You Will Want More Than One Copy of This Book!

I cannot be a bigger fan of Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.  WOW!  I was excited about this book when I saw it at NCTE in Baltimore and I spent lots of time skimming and scanning over the past few months. But this week, I sat down to read it cover to cover. And WOW!  I am so glad I gave this book the time it deserved.

This book is brilliant for so many reasons. It seems to me that it belongs in every classroom K-12 and honestly, I don't think one copy of this book will be enough. There is so much here! Irene Latham, Charles Waters and illustrator Mehrdokht Amini have collaborated to create this brilliant piece of writing and art.  

First of all, the book is longer than I realized. I couldn't read it in one sitting as I intended. It is 120ish pages long and each page is worth savoring. 

Jennifer Orr seems to have a great strategy for reading this one:

Wish I had thought of this--it may be my strategy for a rereading.  Each two-page spread is definitely worth savoring.  So much to think about and so many fabulous visuals to add to each idea.

So, the book is set up as an ABC type book--a dictionary in alphabetical order.  Here is the Table of Contents to give you a sense of all that is here.


So, each two-page spread focuses on one of these words--these words that are really big ideas. The word/idea is explored with a poem, a quote, a connected story from either Irene or Charles, amazing illustrations and something to try. It is pretty incredible all that is included on each page-a deep dive into an important idea for a better world.  

I see so many possibilities for this book.  Sharing a two-page spread each day would be an incredible way to start conversations.  There are also conversations about action and narratives that move us to understanding that would come out of this.

I also see this as a mentor for writers. Each poem is a different type of poem and the authors teach us about those forms as we go.  I also think there is a lot for writers to study in terms of short, powerful narratives like the ones included on each page.  And the whole layout and creating a message with several different kinds of writing and images is so powerful. The word choice alone can become the basis for a year of study.

I could not love this book any more.  I am sorry to say I didn't make time to read it cover to cover before this week. Before this week, I knew it was good, but this week, I realized that it is more than good, it is brilliant for so many reasons.

As an added bonus, you can hear Charles Waters share several of the poems in the book here.

This is definitely a book you want to make time for this summer. It is one you will want for your home, classroom or library.  Order lots!

(I am happy to know I will be able to talk to others about this book as part of the Book Love Foundation's Summer Book Club this month!)




1 comment:

  1. I adore this book! And I read through it very slowly, limiting myself to a spread or two each day, so that I could take some time to reflect. It belongs in every single classroom, as far as I'm concerned!

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