5 Unsung Literacy Benefits of Using a Print Dictionary

Here are all of the skills your child will get from leafing through those information-packed pages.
By Jacob Biba
Aug 07, 2019



scholastic childrens dictionary

Aug 07, 2019

There's a good reason why print dictionaries are still a staple in many classrooms and libraries around the country. That’s because while plenty of dictionary resources are available online, a paper dictionary is a must-have tool for literacy. The mere act of flipping through its pages and discovering the meaning of a word opens up a new world bursting with unexpected learning opportunities for kids — which can play a big hand in their school success. 

“With print dictionaries, students learn alphabetical order and how to locate a word,” says Maya Lê Espiritu, an elementary school teacher in Oceanside, California, and creator of MaiStoryBook. “I even give first-grade students mini versions of dictionaries to help them with spelling.” 

The benefits of thumbing through a print dictionary are often overlooked in an age when kids can just turn to a smartphone to quickly define a word. But print dictionaries are more than just books filled with words and their meanings: They’re reservoirs of knowledge, promoting literacy, learning, and a deeper understanding of the world.

We recommend the new Scholastic 2019 Children’s Dictionary. Children’s dictionaries, in particular, are important because they feature age-appropriate vocabulary for your young learner. The Scholastic 2019 Children’s Dictionary uses real, engaging photographs to illustrate various words, and includes modern vernacular like “drone” and “USB.” The easy-to-read text spells out precise definitions and a brief history of each letter, too!

Order your copy today, and the five literacy and vocabulary-boosting benefits described below will be only a turn of a page away for your child. 

1. They’ll experience a snowball effect of learning. 

When kids leaf through the pages of a dictionary to find a specific word, they also see plenty of other new and interesting words they might not know. This adds momentum to their learning, which is especially helpful for back-to-school season! You never know what other word will catch their eye, and which ones will inspire an even deeper exploration of meaning and understanding. (Here are more strategies that boost reading skills.)

2. It gives your child’s brain a workout. 

Finding words in a print dictionary exercises kids’ minds and helps them develop their problem-solving skills. To find a word, they have to consider order and sequencing, alphabetization, spelling, context, and much more!

3. Print dictionaries slow things down.

Faster isn’t always better when it comes to literacy and learning. Whether they’re reading, writing, or conducting research, when kids pause for a moment to explore the meaning of a word, they enjoy a much-needed break from the task they're working on. Even a small break in action may inspire a new line of thinking or an innovative idea upon their return. 

4. They’ll be more focused.

Print dictionaries don’t have ads. More importantly, kids won’t be tempted to fall down the Internet rabbit hole by visiting their favorite websites or chatting with friends. With print dictionaries, children are often more focused and fully engaged in learning.   

5. Print dictionaries fuel curiosity.

Curiosity is the cornerstone for learning, and thumbing through a print dictionary is the perfect way to fuel it. With every turn of the page, there’s a sense of randomness and serendipity that transforms your child’s print dictionary into something much more valuable than a literacy tool — it becomes a place to let go and lose oneself in learning. You might be surprised by how some words capture your child’s attention!

To shop a full selection of back-to-school reference books and early learning tools, visit The Scholastic Store Online.

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