Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: For the love of old dictionaries

Monday, October 6, 2014

For the love of old dictionaries

One of my favorite books, when I was growing up, was an old, brown dictionary, at least three inches thick and older than my mother. It had been hers as long as she could remember. The cover was worn, and the spine was fragile. Any and every word I could think of was contained within the hundreds of delicate pages.

Someday, when my mother is gone, I will treasure her old dictionary, not only for the information it contains, but for the memories it holds.

This week, I read a post from a fellow homeschooler on Facebook. His 10-year-old son had found a 100-year-old dictionary at a used book store for $1, and stayed up late into the night looking up words. I loved the photo of this young man, immersed in his antique dictionary so much, I asked his dad if I could share it here. Look what great condition this old book is still in today!

Photo by Shane D. Manley

My own kids have good quality collegiate dictionaries, which I started them using very soon after they learned to read. Teaching them how to look up words the old fashioned way, without Google or an handheld device was not easy, but I felt that it was important that they have that tool at their disposal.

I hope hard bound, paper dictionaries never die. There is something special about using them. Maybe it's knowing that others before you have turned the same pages, perhaps to find the same words. Maybe it's being able to seamlessly browse and wander, learning new words you never set out to find. Or maybe it's knowing that if the grid ever went down, you'd have the skills to navigate through the building blocks of out language, in alphabetical order, without fumbling to find your way.

Whatever it is, I love dictionaries, especially old, well used ones. Do you?