Great Back-to-School find! Poetry to help kids learn vocabulary…

Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme When I was little, my brother and I had Jack Prelutsky‘s It’s Halloween! book on tape. We loved it and played it all the time. To this day, I can still recite the entire book. For this reason, I’m a big fan of using rhymed poetry to teach academic lessons — it makes them stick!

So, here’s a cool find that does just that: Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme by Michael Salinger helps kids in grades 6-9 to learn vocabulary found on standardized tests with rhymed verse and humorous sketches on every page. I LOVE this!

Also, of note: this book was published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, a GREAT publisher that I plan to write more about soon. In the mean time, check them out!

More about Well Defined below…

About the Book

Lessons and standardized tests are well known for their focus on vocabulary words that students should know. Terms such as capricious, equivocal, mitigate, and instigate can be baffling and nerve-racking to young adults, especially when they need to demonstrate their knowledge in the classroom or on an exam. Poet Michael Salinger defuses the tension by offering his own tongue-in-cheek definitions that students will surely commit to memory. Giving each word a personality all its own, Salinger creates mini story lines and amusing images, full of wit and irony, that will keep readers chuckling. Cartoonist Sam Henderson’s hilarious drawings add to the fun.


“The personifications are witty and evocative, and the vocabulary is choice enough that the explorations will be intriguing to veteran users and novices alike. … Squiggly and energetic thumbnail-sized cartoons decorate most of the pages; a table of contents (which also identifies the part of speech for each featured word) opens the volume, and each word also gets a quick definition in a footnote underneath its poem.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Salinger, a performance poet, offers short, funny and readable poems in this slim volume, which aims to help students with vocabulary words often found on standardized tests. … Adding to the humor are Henderson’s—creator of the Magic Whistle comic book series—simple line illustrations. … The poems are as well-intentioned as they are well-written.”
—Voice of Youth Advocates

Example Poem: Brevity

Brevity gets right to the point
doesn’t dawdle, dicker, or delay
always short and sweet whenever
there is something to do
or say
brevity comes in handy when you
are subject to a chewing out
a bout of the flu
a pain in the neck
or waiting in line for the loo
in fact, this poem has gone on so long
that its recital
would no longer qualify
as an example of its title.


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