Cover Image: Dictionary for a Better World

Dictionary for a Better World

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Member Reviews

"Dictionary for a Better World" is a great book for teaching kids about poetry and SEL. Also, I could just die for the illustrations. Beautifully done.
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Dictionary for a Better World is the perfect mentor text to use along with an April poetry month unit! Original in its thematically based organization and accessible to all ages of students. Visually impactful as well!
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This is a gorgeously illustrated volume that not only offers readers definitions, but also exercises so that young readers can apply what they have learned.
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Authentic, illustrative and educational

I really liked the content of the book, first I want to highlight that it is not a dictionary in the usual sense, however the proposal to approach each concept is very creative and poetic. The content is based on words and concepts that the authors have selected as values so that together we build a Better World.
In this unique book, children can learn valuable concepts as well as poetic forms and their characteristics in parallel. The authors share personal experiences and impressions in an emotional way for each word, which I consider very authentic. There is an invitation to take action and put that value into practice, giving it added value that I love. This synergistic sum of features makes it a genuine and attractive book, in addition to the modern illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini.

My sincere appreciation to the Publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to review the book
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This beautifully illustrated book has at least one positive word for every single letter of the alphabet. And then each one of those words has an accompanying poem. Included with each one is a definition of poetry terms, an inspirational quote from a famous person, words of wisdom from Irene and Charles, who put this book together, and activities that you can do that are related to the category word for that poem.

These illustrations are just stunning, and each one perfectly fits the word it is describing. One of my favorites is for Kindness, where the person has a heart cutout in his chest and is holding a heart in his hands as if he is offering it to someone. Another great one is for Reach, based on Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, which is one of my favorite works.

I would definitely use this to introduce poetry for children. You have a whole unit on different kinds of poetry in this book. I would encourage children to write out their own responses to the poems, maybe even before reading the reactions of the authors. And I like a lot of the suggested activities. They really help you get to know yourself and be more aware of yourself in the world around you.

I think you could adapt these activities for all ages, elementary through high school. Even adults could benefit from some of the self-reflection involved.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a requested review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Beautifully illustrated collection of A-Z poetry. The title may be misleading as it is not a dictionary but a collection of stories and poems.
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This is a beautifully illustrated book.  A must read for everyone and lessons to learn.  I absolutely feel that this book should be given to every child and in every library.
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Many of you know I enjoy poetry – reading it and trying my hand at writing it too every once in a while. And I love books that teach without preaching. This book therefore was one I had to check out for myself and I am glad I did. This is a must-add for my library and I plan to get the print edition soon for myself (the review is based on the NetGalley eARC I received)

This is not per-se a picture book but the brilliant artwork that accompanies the poems across its 120+ pages almost make it so, a picture book that teaches and allows the readers to explore so many different things.

Each poem is by one of the two authors of this book and highlights one of 50+ words, some of which are acceptance, dream, hate(too), intention, laughter, netiquette(much needed today), pause, tenacity, xenial and zest. 

Each of these beautiful entries also includes:
- Mehrdokht Amini’s brilliant and bright artwork
- a short definition of the poetic form used in the poem (and I love that each poem uses a different poetic form
- an inspiring quote related to the poem’s theme/word
- a personal anecdote or reflection from one of the poets that adds to the poem and its message
- and a ‘try-it’ exercise. This gives ways for the reader to easily work towards, well, making the world a better place, one step at a time!

I truly enjoyed each entry – for its message, its use of the poetic form, and for the opportunity provided to explore, enhance, and expand upon each poem. This can be used in so many ways, to
- explore and learn the different poetic forms, and to try writing based on the form
- learn about the personalities whose quotes are included with each poem (some are well-known, and others not so much)
- understand and use the visual brilliance of the artwork by Amini, and be inspired by that to try to create
- figure out how to use the try-it exercises individually, or with others, and make the world a better place

The book also includes a very useful index with a list of books, resources, the poetic forms used, and more.

A treasure of a book that you should get for your library or for a classroom near you. It touches upon important social topics effortlessly and ‘clichelessly.’ Definitely serves an important purpose in today’s world while introducing readers to so much more – poetry, poetic forms, art, and inspirational people.

While this is geared towards younger readers (upper elementary and middle graders), I believe this book is for everyone.

Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital review copy of the featured books. These thoughts are my honest opinions of the books.
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The authors that created Can I Touch Your Hair, a collection of poems about race, return with a dictionary that selects powerful words to think about as we work on making our world better. The dictionary includes words like empathy, acceptance, compassion, humility, respect and tenacity. Nicely, no effort is made to include the entire alphabet, rather words were selected for their ability to make an impact. Along with each word, there is a poem written by one of the authors and then also a piece of prose that speaks to their own interaction with the concept and how it has impacted their life. Other elements include a quotation with each word and also a way for the reader to try it out in their own life. 

The tone here is encouraging and positive without underplaying the incredible amount of work needed to be done to make progress on social issues. The focus is on individual responsibility for each of the concepts and taking personal action to make change happen. In their personal stories, the authors make it alright to make mistakes, take responsibility and continue to move forward. The combination of all of the elements for each concept is very powerful, offering a book that can either be read cover-to-cover or that one can dive into a single concept and explore.

The art by Amini uses a variety of media from photographs to cut paper to pressed leaves to paintings. Each turn of the page takes readers into a new concept visually as well, changing from dark colors to vivid green to cool blues and using different formats. 

A unique dictionary that asks us all to do our part in changing our world. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
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Dictionary for a Better World is a gentle exploration of social justice through poetry. Readers can expect to learn not only our vernacular for discussing a variety of social justice topics, but also a deeper understanding of their context and meaning. While perhaps not the loud punch some teachers and readers may want in a poetry book addressing these topics, this is an excellent tool for both family and classroom discussion for a wide range of ages, from upper elementary through middle school. Pair with Woke, This Book Is Anti-Racist, and Girls Resist! for an outstanding social justice unit.
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Thank you NetGalley for the advanced ebook. This book is all the stars and more. I loved the poetry with the commentary. I loved the illustrations and quotes. I loved how different the poems were, yet all stayed in the same theme. It’s a must read and I enjoyed it. Definitely adding to my wish list for my students.
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I'm impressed with this book -- not only does it address an important topic with such a calm openness that invites thought and discussion and action, it also teaches about poetry as a whole and in multiple forms, as well as include quotes from other writers and thinkers, mini personal reflections, and simple suggestions of ways to put the ideas into action. I don't know how they managed to pack all that in and still offer up an easy to engage with book. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for other books these authors create together. And I can't wait to try my hand at a few of the new-to-me poetry forms. Thanks for all the effort to bring this book to publication! I've already recommended it (in detail) to at least four people.
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What does a Better World look like for you? A world where everyone is ACCEPTED and BELONGS! A world that is COMPASSIONATE and DIVERSE! A world that is CREATIVE and has ZEST!

Each page of this book features one of these bold and powerful words that is brought to life by an inspiring poem! Also included with each word are:

A beautiful illustration 

Definitions of the different types of poetic forms such as: concrete, free verse, haiku, limerick, nonsense, etc...

An inspiring quote from artists, authors, leaders, and change makers such as: Frederick Douglass, Frida Kahlo, George Washington Carver, Jacqueline Woodson, etc...

A personal message from either Irene Lathem or Charles Waters

An example of how to implement the word into to your own everyday life

Yes...We CAN make a Better World one person, and one action at a time. This is definitely a book you will want to add permanently to your home or classroom library, as it can be used and referenced to in so many useful ways! Look for this one on February 4, 2020!
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*I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

“Dictionary for a Better World” is an A-to-Z dictionary of words pertaining to equality, kindness and creativity. The book is very charming, each page illustrated with bold colors and pictures. This, and the general layout of the book, was one of my favorite things. Each entry consists of a poem inspired by the word, an explanation of its form, an inspirational quote, and advice from the writers, Irene Latham and Charles Waters. I loved that every poem was a different form, from limericks to haikus to sonnets, and that each form was defined and explained. These tidbits of information were brief, but educational. For example, as a Puerto Rican, seeing the “Decima” included, and its popularity in Puerto Rico explained, made me smile. This Decima, in fact, for W’s Witness, was my favorite poem in the book, perhaps because its rhyme pattern matched beloved childhood songs:

“Tell the stories that name your pain—
bring your suffering into the light.
With the faith of a lost kite,
dive headlong into biting rain.
Let your words howl and hurricane.
When you speak weak and bleary-eyed,
when you scream though you’d rather hide,
your stories wing into warm air;
your suffering becomes prayer.
Healing waits on the other side.”

The book is clearly meant for children, but on the older end: middle-schoolers, I would say, and kids that are already avid readers. The font is small, and the paragraphs of advice are long and wordy, which can exhaust younger readers. The vocabulary can be complex, too, but I find this great; children should stumble, often, into new words. All that said, I don’t think this is meant to be read in a single sitting —or even in order!—, but consulted, they way dictionaries are, when one needs a little push. It would be perfect as a shared experience, too, with teachers tackling an entry with their students, or parents with their children. The book is, after all, about defining a better world, one worthy of being handed to the next generations. What better place to start, than in the household and the classroom?

Though it could lean slightly into preachiness, “Dictionary for a Better World” is full of sound advice and earnest anecdotes. Irene and Charles are honest, not hiding their shortcomings nor their doubts. It was also diverse, an “own voices” approach to non-fiction, with both gender and race discussed sincerely. Their frankness was refreshing, and I believe youngsters should be confronted with this kind of grownup: adults accepting their flaws, but advising kindness and perseverance at every turn. This book is their idea, a lovely one, and they executed it to perfection. The product, and all its words, is worthy of being read and shared.
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I feel like I definitely would have got more out of this if I myself were a teenager, but that didn't take away anything. I thoroughly enjoyed the style and formatting of this book, and I definitely think it's a great way to introduce different types of poetry to young people.
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This book has an amazing concept and message that I really appreciate. I liked how certain letters were given more than one word and I think the layout is very well done. All the different colours, illustrations, text in different formats and directions, it makes the book very visually stimulating and engaging. I was the biggest fan of some of the poetry or illustrations but overall a really interesting book!
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Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, 109 pages. POETRY
Carolrhoda Books, 2020. $20.
Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G
Latham and Waters offer 50 poems, each with a quote and an anecdote, based on principles and characteristics that will improve our world when applied. Individuals have to change before the world as a whole can become better.
My favorite parts of this book are the parts that are not advertised as part of the poem collection: each poem comes with a new literary device or poem style to learn and an invitation for the reader to start applying the introduced principle. Latham and Waters teach by example through their poems and anecdotes and then give readers another example of how to start emulating the characteristics now -- today! While this isn’t the type of book one typically sits down to read cover to cover, even flipping through a few pages has the potential to change a reader’s perspective of the world.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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The idea behind this book is very good. It's goal is to inspire young readers to create a better world. 
I liked the alphabet format of  the book and also the bold illustrations that accompanied the poems.
Unfortunately the book  wasn't something I particularly liked, probably because I am not into poetry as much as I wanted. Also I think that this book is more appropriate for older children due to its length.
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"My journey starts with a full tank on life's uneven road" Thank you to NetGalley and Lerner Books for this quick and adorable read. Dictionary for a Better World is filled with bold and vibrant illustrations, poems, quotes and anecdotes from A to Z! I saved so many quotes while reading this one and I enjoyed it!
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This inspiring book is geared toward middle school readers.  As the title says, it is organized in alphabetical order as a dictionary.  Some of the words included in the book are acceptance, compassion, diversity, forgiveness, gratitude, hope, justice, kindness,peace, understanding and more.  This title has some lovely illustrations; the book opens with one of flowers in a mug that sets the tone. The first entry is a twenty--six line poem with a line for every letter of the alphabet.  Each of the following entries also includes an editorial comment and something to try. One example from the book: The letter C.



courage can be

getting up to face life's

stormy world when you'd rather hide

in bed. 

Author Charles than comments and there is a Try It!

This book can be read in order or dipped into.  Hopefully, readers will be encouraged as they pursue the entries in this book.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review.
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