Book review of The Word Collector by Peter H Reynolds

‘Some people collect stamps. Some people collect coins. Some collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words…’

The Word Collector is a thought-provoking, enjoyable story. It is based around a character called Jerome: a boy who utterly adores words. Jerome collects words that he encounters in his everyday life, be they intriguing or exciting, simple, multi-syllabic or downright eccentric!

One day, Jerome’s cut-out collection of words is flung into the air, but the jumble of surprising word combinations inspires him to create poetry to share with others.

This book doesn’t shy away from unfamiliar and challenging vocabulary, including such words as ‘effervescent’ and ‘vociferous’. It celebrates experimentation with words and that some are simply ‘marvellous to say’, even if the meaning is unknown.

Above all, The Word Collector introduces children to a wealth of vocabulary within a familiar and engaging picture book format. For many young readers, this is far less daunting than a text-heavy book.

Classroom ideas

  • Discuss and categorise word types, for example, nouns, verbs, onomatopoeia, emotive language.
  • Add words from Jerome’s collection to a word bank.
  • Experiment with unusual word combinations, leading to poetry writing or unique descriptions in prose (developing those expanded noun phrases!)
  • Discuss the qualities of different words. Some are described as ‘short and sweet’ while others are ‘marvellous’. Can the children group words according to their qualities, for example, harsh, ugly, soft, soothing, musical or powerful?
  • Look up dictionary definitions of Jerome’s words or find super synonyms using a thesaurus.
  • Encourage children to become ‘word collectors’, creating their own word lists or scrapbooks.

 

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Caroline Pudner

Caroline is a Curriculum Consultant at Cornerstones. She writes curriculum materials, teaching resources and blogs. Caroline has 10 years primary teaching experience and has worked in both museums and galleries education and adult education.

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