Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Best Children's Dictionary Ever

I know that kids can now use certain websites to look up words and things these days.  However, they still need to learn alphabetical order as well as how to understand pronunciation guides and I believe learning both the old fashioned and the modern way to do things useful because it just makes a kid more versatile.

I have the dictionary I used in my own childhood available to my little girl, but she has a very large vocabulary for her age and we were finding Alice already knew most of the words in that old dictionary.  As a result, we have been on a search for a good children's dictionary for her for ages now.  The problem with many children's dictionaries is that they really just don't have that many words in them.

We finally found just the right thing!  DK got together with Merriam Webster to create the best children's dictionary ever.  The book is priced right at only $22 (US) yet it has all the color and visual vitality one might expect from a reference book presented by DK and 35,000 quality entries like one would expect from Merriam Webster.

There are two things I find especially unique and helpful for kids about this dictionary that really sets its makers apart.
  1. Along the edges of every layout is the entire alphabet typed out vertically.  For kids still getting familiar with alphabetical order, this tool serves to help in speeding the process of figuring out whether the word being sought is a page or two ahead or a page or two behind because they can take a look at the alphabet for help with that third or fourth letter in the word rather than having to say the alphabet to themselves.
  2. Along the bottom edge of the layout is a pronunciation guide key.  This helps kids quickly remember what the sound for an upside down e is when they are trying to learn how to correctly pronounce new words.  The fact that the key is right there on the page instead of having to refer to an appendix or a separate page at the front of the book, makes it a lot more likely kids will actually use the pronunciation guides.
As with all Children's dictionaries, this one also contains lots of pictures and diagrams, but what is really special is that, true to DK style, the diagrams in this dictionary are truly a highlighted feature.  For example, when you find a picture of gymnastics, you don't just see one gymnast doing a flip, you see a whole page diagram showing different positions and tools a gymnast might use.  Similarly, when a child looks up "cloud" he or she will find a diagram covering more than a quarter of the page showing a model of the various types of clouds one might typically see in the sky.   While not everything is pictured with this kind of detail, there are quite a few "diagrams," and every layout is visually interesting with multiple images interspersed throughout the definition entries.

At the end of the dictionary is a short atlas including a layout for each of the continents with a little information about climate, history, culture and a fact file that lists the largest and smallest countries, and the largest city, and lake and the longest river on the continent.  There is also a map of the United States, a section for flags of the world and one for the flags of each of the states.  Another section in the appendix includes a listing of all the provinces of Canada and states of the US, their capitol cities, and for the states, the date the state entered the union.  You will also find a listing of the first 46 presidents, common abbreviations, and signs and symbols used in mathematics, astronomy, and a few others.

As a final word.  DK nor anyone associated with the dictionary has given me any money for this article.  This is an honest review of a really good product and if you are looking for a children's dictionary I highly recommend it, purely because I think it is high caliber for a good price and my daughter is even enjoying just flipping through it and reading different word entries while looking at the stunning photos and quality diagrams and images.

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