The Boy Who Loved Words

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Boy Who Loved Words Book Poster Image
Word-loving boy spreads the wealth in fun tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness
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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's much to be learned in this story of a boy who travels through the country like Johnny Appleseed, collecting words and distributing them to those who need them. A lively introduction to the joy of words.

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What's the story?

Selig loves words -- the sound, taste, thought, and feel of them. He collects them on slips of paper and stuffs his pockets full of them. His parents worry about him. His classmates make fun of him. He begins to feel lonely. One night a genie appears to him in a dream and tells him that he has a passion, but needs a purpose. So Selig leaves home, traveling through the country like Johnny Appleseed, collecting words and distributing them to those who need them. Includes glossary on endpapers.

Is it any good?

For kids who love words, and for parents and teachers who want to get them interested in words, this is a treat. Both text and pictures are filled with wonderful words, some long, some short, but all fun to find and use. The words in the text are included in a glossary, but many of the words in the pictures are not, so their meanings will need to be tracked down.

There are a few false steps. For example, the genie has a Brooklyn Yiddish accent for no discernible reason other than confusing the reader. The modernist illustrations at first seem rather stilted, but they stay in the mind and, as they are filled with words, they encourage and reward close inspection. This is a delightful book to spark or encourage a love of words, and to inspire family and class activities.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about words. What makes some words so much fun? How does knowing a lot of words help? What are some of your favorite words? Together you can learn the words in the book's glossary and try using them in everyday life whenever you can. How about starting your own collections of wonderful words?

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