Noah Webster: Weaver of Words

Overview

This NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book celebrates one of the most important patriots in post-Revolutionary times. Most readers know Noah Webster for his dictionary masterpieces and his promotion of a living "American Language" that embraces words and idioms from all its immigrant peoples. But he was also the driving force behind universal education for all citizens, including slaves, females, and adult learners. Speaker of twenty languages, he developed the new country's curriculum, writing and publishing American ...

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Overview

This NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book celebrates one of the most important patriots in post-Revolutionary times. Most readers know Noah Webster for his dictionary masterpieces and his promotion of a living "American Language" that embraces words and idioms from all its immigrant peoples. But he was also the driving force behind universal education for all citizens, including slaves, females, and adult learners. Speaker of twenty languages, he developed the new country's curriculum, writing and publishing American literature, American history, and American geography. He published New York City's first daily newspaper. As editor, Webster conducted a study and linked disease with poor sanitation. He created the country's first insurance company, established America's first copyright law, and became America's first best-selling author.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This beautifully illustrated and exceptionally well-written picture book is a must have for any school/public library. As a subject, Noah Webster is, in my opinion, one of the more interesting personages in American history because of his revolutionary ideas about the importance of language and words—at one point he pushed for an American language that eventually became the Americanized version of British English—and his innovative ideas about education. Most of us only know Noah Webster as "the guy who wrote the dictionary" to quote one of my students. However, this book does an exemplary job of sharing Webster's life and the experiences that framed his ideas on everything from the Federalist model of government to the need for more accessible and consistent spellings of words to encourage student learning. Webster's devotion to learning probably stood out for the most for me, and his ideas on education are still ones that we should value: small class size, rewarding students for good work, encouraging all to gain as much education as possible, and so forth. This book also has one of the most complete chronologies of a subject's life that I have seen in a picture book; the inclusion of both primary and secondary sources in the further reading section is also exemplary. This is a wonderful addition to any library. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Although best known for his dictionaries, Webster, a contemporary and friend of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and other "founding fathers," made many contributions to the United States as a new nation. He advocated standardization of spellings and pronunciations of words, differentiating between American and British English. He was an early proponent of public education. He was instrumental in getting the first U.S. copyright laws approved. Unfortunately, while his many accomplishments are certainly worthy of study and attention, none of them are of particular interest to children. The thoughtful, quotation-heavy, and lengthy text is appropriately aimed at older readers, and the attractive oil paintings, realistic, dark-toned tableaux, accurately reflect the period. However, their formal composition may appeal more to an adult audience. Instead of tightly focused pictures that draw a child's eye to important details, these images are often panoramic views. The art is beautiful, but better suited to museum viewing than a picture-book biography. Webster is a fascinating topic, but this book does not succeed in bringing him to life for young readers.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Bringing history to life for young readers is no easy task. Providing a clear outline of events and offering plentiful resources for further study is a good start. Whether young readers will really grasp Webster's enormous accomplishments remains in question. Webster earned a Master's degree from Yale; he also studied law and a remarkable number of languages. He wrote textbooks, influenced the development of the new nation, created the first comprehensive dictionary of the American language and worked to improve educational opportunities and practices. Shea's straightforward text describes Webster's life from childhood on his parents' farm through studying, writing and teaching, extensive travel and his long, full family life. She does her best to put his achievements into context and includes quotations from Webster's own writing. Vachula's realistic oil paintings likewise endeavor to offer a glimpse of life during Revolutionary times. Ultimately, the sheer breadth of Webster's life and achievement just can't be adequately covered in such brisk fashion, making this an intriguing introduction but far from the last word on this innovative thinker. (chronology, bibliography, index) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590784419
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 800,030
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Shea Pegi writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A number of her books have won awards from the International Reading Association, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, and other organizations. She lives in Vernon, Connecticut.

Monica Vachula's paintings and drawings have been exhibited throughout New England and are in many private collections. She provided the illustrations for Tea with an Old Dragon: A Story of Sophia Smith, Founder of Smith College by Jane Yolen, as well as Noah Webster: Weaver of Words by Pegi Deitz Shea, Connecticut Book Award winner and an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book. She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts.

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