Scholastic Dictionary of Spelling: 09/26/13
Normally on this blog I don't review reference books. It probably seems incredibly silly to see a review of a dictionary. Heck, it even feels a little silly reviewing one. But here we are! This is a review of the Scholastic Dictionary of Spelling by Marvin Terban.
I have two children. Both read above grade level but my oldest takes after me and has always struggled with spelling. Over summer vacation, I wanted to help both my kids improve their spelling. Although they are different ages, for me, it's easier to tutor them together (or at least on the same subject).
The Scholastic Dictionary of Spelling is just that, a book aimed at teaching elementary and middle school students how to spell the 16,000 (and change) words they will use most. Before the actual dictionary section (which is understandably the bulk of the book), there are shorter sections on phonetics (including the dastardly but ever present schwa [ə], homophones and homographs, compound words and pluralization. For those most often misspelled words, there's a mnemonic section. For example: "Advice: my advice is don't slip on the ice" (p. 27).
Most of the dictionary, is in fact a dictionary. But even here, emphasis is on helping students (and parents, who might be using it to design spelling tests) learn spelling by seeing syllabic patterns and where the stress falls in words. The stressed syllables are put in bold.
This dictionary is visually appealing and easy to read. It's not one that will teach children archaic words, complex phonetics or obscure definitions. But for getting children back on track with their day-to-day spelling, I think this dictionary is the most useful one I've seen.