Dictionary for a Better World

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

*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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Creative, engaging and great for both kids and adults. The book already begins with an acrostic of the alphabet and the letters bring poems about a theme that begins with that letter. Graphics complete the experience along with a great teaser from one of the authors and a Try it.
I loved it
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This book is superb. Not only is it beautifully illustrated and full of inspirational quotes, it contains a wide range of vocabulary for children to explore. The poetry is fantastic and I really appreciated the information about the different forms. This will be a lovely book to use with children to look at different forms of poetry and to allow them to experiment and be creative with language. This is all before we even look at the content, which delivers exactly what the title suggests: ideas of how individuals can help to make the world a nicer place to be.
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Thank you Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group for providing me with the ARC of this book. This book was an amazing experience for me. I rarely read poetry and having seen this book as poetry for kids, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it. The format is very interesting and the different forms of poems in this book gave me a uniquely enjoyable and insightful experience. The way it's written and the themes that are present in the book are very much relatable and irrespective of the age you can enjoy it. The thought-provoking topics and content add to the beauty of it. The creativity that goes into crafting various poetry forms and then collecting them together complemented by information about the type of poem it is and also thoughts from the authors makes the reading experience wonderful. I loved the assembling of the words in their alphabetical order and how they bring forward important life-related topics that are relatable to people of all ages. These poems inspire goodness, zest for life, positive attitude, and awareness to the readers. The concept and the execution of it were excellent. I loved every single moment of reading it and the feelings it elicited in me. This is a definite recommendation for anyone who loves poems and loves social constructs included in the poems. I highly recommend checking it out. I have given it 5 stars and would love to get my hands on a finished copy of the book.
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Each letter indicates a helpful word and combines a poem, a description of the poem type, a quote, a segment written by one of the authors, and a helpful tip for readers to follow to emulate that trait. The author segments were a little dull, but the rest of it was pretty cool. I really appreciated the book list in the back.
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This book was received as an ARC from Lerner Publishing Group - Carolrhoda Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I was blown away by the execution of not only the quotes, poems and literary elements used in this book but the artwork was absolutely mind blowing. This book not only reflects the importance of preserving the environment and saving the world one day at a time but, it also introduced me to new forms of poetry such as The Golden Shovel, Rena and my personal favorite the didactic. This book should be a requirement for elementary/middle school English classes all over so not only will they learn about the types of poetry but inspire them to become a writer themselves and be a good impact on saving the world.

We will consider adding this title to our JNon-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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Beautiful, full of hidden gems where you can reread it and forever catch new pieces to think about or reflect upon. Perfect to read with a classroom page by page, or alone. Read the whole thing in one go or take it slowly and ponder. I adore books that have teachers and flexibility (and social emotional learning for all) in mind. This one does all of that! 

Some humans I really love made it into the quotes which was, great too. 


Thanks so much to the publishers and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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This is a colorful, creative book with a great premise: It's an A-to-Z dictionary of words that are all about equality and empathy and other great things for kids to learn. Each entry is made into some sort of poem about the word (with some letters getting more than one word and poem) and then there are calls to action about how to embody those attributes. Written by a man and woman from very different backgrounds, it offers diversity of experience. The poems are in all different forms and it also teaches you about all of the poem types.

The art that illustrates the book is my favorite part. I like the bright colors and the way some spreads remind me of the collage style of Eric Carle. Other times it's more photographs. It's happy, bold artwork that works well for the content.

That said, the book feels crowded and the layout almost seems like ad copy. It's clearly designed for older kids because it's LONG and wordy, but I don't know how many middle school kids are actually going to sit and read a dictionary of ways to be better people, even with colorful art and lots of happy exclamations. And any kids of that age who really are drawn to this are probably already the kind of kids who are empathetic and appreciate diversity, and don't really need a big book designed to make them into better people. It feels a bit preachy, and honestly most of the young people I know these days are already far better at respecting diversity, accepting others, caring about the world and being good people than the older people like those of my generation who are running the world into the ground. I'm a little annoyed at how many picture books I've seen this year aimed at getting kids concerned about climate change for example, when most kids I know are already terrified of it and taking action (teens included) while the older folks twiddle their thumbs and make it all worse. Maybe we should stop trying to improve children so much and improve the world we're giving them, and just give them some fun books to simply entertain them for a while. Kids these days need that more than anything, I think.

This is a nice book, colorful and well meaning. I just wish we could start marketing a better world to the old folks in power instead once or twice.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.
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I loved the layout of this book! Poems, haikus, limericks one every page. Focusing on world issues and ways to solve them. Paired with beautiful art, quotes, questions, explanations on the poems and the definitions and explanations of the style of writing used.

I was so impressed at how this book took real issues and gave realistic ways to help combat them. It read like a scrap book which helped to make it more “real” and relatable.
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I feel like this book is very good in the way that it gets you thinking. Although aimed towards children, I feel as though it is a book that also gets adults to think deeper into their lives. I enjoyed the poetry side of the book and the descriptions of the different types of poems they were. I also really enjoyed hearing from the authors throughout the book and hearing their own personal experiences. 

I do feel in some areas though that the book was complex and definitely more suitable for older children and upwards.  However for the appropriate aged reader, I do feel like they will learn and take a lot away from this book.
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This book was so cute and something I would read to my kids. Reminded me of a children’s nook but full of poetry.
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