Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris

by Dianne White on November 13, 2012

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Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)

Dictionaries. Kids store them in their desks, pull them out for homework, and access them on-line. But how many kids (even adults!) know the story behind our first All-American dictionary? They need look no further than Jeri Chase Ferris’ NOAH WEBSTER AND HIS WORDS, a delightful new picture book that CEL-E-BRATES [verb: to honor] this American educator and patriot.

Noah Webster had plans. Big plans. And while he came from a long line of Webster farmers, “Noah did not want to be in that long line. He didn’t want to be a farmer at all.” Instead, Webster wanted to be a SCHOLAR [noun: one who goes to school; a person who knows a lot].

And so he was. Years later, in a letter to a friend, Noah declared, “I will write the second Declaration of Independence…An American spelling book!” It took almost two years, but when the “blue-backed speller” was finally published, it was a success. “At last, in 1783, an American schoolbook!”

Webster went on to write other books, including the very first 100 percent American Dictionary of the English Language. It took almost twenty years to collect nearly every word in the English language, but it was worth it! Noah’s hard work continues to live on – his dictionary is the second most popular book, after the Bible, to be printed in English. That’s some legacy!

Lively text and humorous illustrations make this book a “must-have” for every teacher, class, and school library list. Not only is it an excellent account of the man who wrote that “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country,” but it’s a wonderful example of non-fiction writing at its finest.

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