The Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia: An Exciting Reference Tool

Book Focus: August 2004

By Kenneth Wright
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia
0-439-43816-0, $19.95, Scholastic Reference, Ages 8 and Up
Questions for Ken Wright

The Scholastic Reference imprint celebrates its tenth anniversary with the publication of a major new reference book, the Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia, for children in Grades 3-6. Here, Editorial Director Kenneth R. Wright answers questions about this exciting new reference tool.


What is it that makes this encyclopedia a must-have for students, teachers and parents?
Children at this level need an age-appropriate guide to the world they live in that speaks to them in a language they understand. We believe the Internet should not necessarily be the first place for young children to begin their inquiries. The Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia provides children with an authoritative first step as they begin to question, explore, and learn.

The Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia is the most up-to-date and essential children's encyclopedia from the most trusted name in children's education. It has 2,000 full-color photographs, computer graphics, diagrams, maps, and examples of fine art — all to best illustrate the 600 entries that cover more than twenty different subject areas. We also provide hundreds of special features such as sidebars and "see also" boxes to help readers gain a deeper knowledge of the information and to make connections between related subjects. Special bonus material includes maps of the world, time zones, a timeline and explanation of historic eras, plant and animal classification tables, world statistics by country, and so much more.

What was the inspiration for this new colorful format?
Our plan from the beginning was firstly to make the encyclopedia as accessible and fun as possible, and secondly to conceive of it as a true companion in every way to the best-selling Scholastic Children's Dictionary. The new, vibrant, colorful format simply followed from those two premises.

What kinds of new information have been included?
As you might expect, you'll find information on the 2003 U.S.-led coalition invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. What might surprise you is that the entry for the World Trade Center includes a description and history of the complex, as well as links to entries on Architecture and Skyscrapers.

It is mentioned that the Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia was "conceived and written for our multicultural world." Can you expand on what that means and how it has been accomplished?
We have edited the information with a keen eye toward the realities of the US market — an increasingly diversified student population. You'll find Frida Kahlo as well as Picasso; Maya Angelou and Emily Dickenson; after Charlemagne and Chaucer you'll find Cesar Chavez. We've gone beyond biographies of Chief Joseph and Sacagawea to include a complete map of Native American Nations at the time of European colonization. Our list of important popular musicians includes influential giants such as Muddy Waters and Bob Marley in addition to LL Cool J, Elvis and Madonna.

Do you have a favorite fact that you learned from the Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia — one that you did not know before?
Although I did know that a number followed by 100 zeroes is a called a googol, I had no idea that it was given this name by a nine-year-old boy named Milton Sirotta in 1938 (page 383). This is the kind of revelation that makes the Encyclopedia so kid-friendly. It is also a great example of the type of information that takes readers beyond learning just the facts, to a greater understanding of the world around them.

My second-favorite is the world's largest vegetable: the tropical yam, which can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh over 130 pounds! (page 628) That's a lot of yam!

  • Subjects:
    Math, Science, Social Studies, Research Skills, Technology