While surfing Facebook last night, I ran across a link about banned books on The Literacy Site. I was initially surprised that No. 1 was a dictionary.
As a writer, I have little respect for people who ban books. But in some cases I do think there has to be a common-sense decision on age appropriateness, which could include dictionaries. And yes, this reminds me of another teaching story.
I teach in several middle schools and an occasional grade school. The dictionaries in these classrooms are all targeted to these age groups. In case you might wonder why, during one assignment I was teaching 5th Grade, and toward the end of the day we got to a science lesson. I have always been a firm believer in expanding one’s vocabulary; a good student should learn at least one new word a day, and I reinforce this every chance I get. Science is an especially good subject for making this point due to all the new concepts, especially in grade school. So I was encouraging them to use their dictionaries all through the lesson. I was really proud of myself as I watched them eagerly turning the pages.
Then I heard all this giggling in the back of the room, and realized they were actually looking up words like “butt”.
And that’s why schools have age-appropriate dictionaries.