This delightful history of the alphabet belongs on every child’s book shelf next to The History of Counting (unattractive cover, but wonderful book) and About Time: A First Look at Time and Clocks. Ox, House, Stick details (with gobs of text and helpful, attractive illustrations) the history of our alphabet beginning with picture writing (Chinese, Sumerian, and Egyptian) and the various cultures from which we borrowed our alphabet (Rome, Greece, Phoenicia, Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt). The history of each letter of the English alphabet is then covered in surprising depth for a picture book! Tucked in with the history of each letter are short explanatory notes on topics such as the origin of the name “alphabet,” the order of the alphabet, consonants and vowels, reading left to right, writing materials, and Johannes Gutenberg.)
A step up from Ox, House, Stick, we have The Word Snoop. This is an illustrated chapter book that will enthrall any language-lover, young or old. Invent your own alphabet, find out why English is so strange, play games, crack codes, solve puzzles, and explore punctuation, anagrams, palindromes, oxymorons, puns, onomatopoeia, euphemisms, cliches, tautology, malapropisms, and so much more. My boys think this book is great fun!
Now that we have words, which one shall we use? The right one!
I can relate to Peter Roget. As a boy he loved books and he loved to write, but he didn’t write stories. He wrote lists! [My favorite assignment in my high school creative writing class was a list of things that made me smile.] Peter wrote lists of Latin words. Inspired by Linnaeus, Peter wrote lists of plants and animals. (Are you listening, CC students?) He saw Napoleon lead his troops through Paris. Peter (shy, though he was) had to give a presentation in front of a crowded room. He managed to speak “concisely, with clarity and conviction!” (Hello, alliteration!)
“In 1852, Roget published his Thesaurus, a word that means ‘treasure house’ in Greek.” Now everyone can find the right word whenever they need it!
This beautiful picture book is illustrated in a scrapbook style by one of my favorites, Melissa Sweet.
When the right words are put together, what do we have? creativity. poetry. magic.
In this gorgeous picture book, we meet e.e. cummings. E.E., Estlin, said his first poem at the age of three. His mother began writing down his poems.
“As Estlin grew, he drew many pictures from the great circus of his imagination. But even more than drawing elephants, trees, and birds, Estlin LOVED WORDS. What words say and how they sound and look. He loved the way them hum, buzz, pop, and swish.”
A grown-up word-lover on your list? Try this one:
I can’t help it. Diagramming sentences is a blast. It’s a combination of word puzzle, language, logic, and art. What could be better? This book is an entertaining romp through the English language via the history of sentence diagramming and a wide variety of sentences (Groucho Marx, Lewis Carroll, Gertrude Stein, Henry James, Hemmingway, James Fenimore Cooper, Twain, Updike, Fitzgerald, and more).
“I do believe that clarity in speech and precision and consistency in writing will never cease to be important. Language exists so that we can communicate with each other, and surely it continues to be true that…we communicate better when we speak and write clearly, and that when we communicate better, we understand each other, and that when we understand each other, life in general is greatly improved.”