Against all odds

Despite numerous setbacks the creator of the first comprehensive English dictionary never gave up on his dream. Let’s look at Dr Johnson, his life, his times and his magnificent book.

Spend a little time talking to children about words. Do they have any favourite words? What do they do if ever they come across a word they haven’t seen or heard before? Some words can be very confusing. Can they think about words that have more than one meaning? You might want to look at the Confusables infographic. Reiterate that sometimes words can be puzzling and that it is always good, if you come across a word that you don’t understand, to look it up in a dictionary, or if there’s not a dictionary to hand ask someone. Explain that you should never be ashamed of not knowing the meaning of a word – it is, in fact, precisely the reason we have dictionaries. Also, encourage children to share new and interesting words. This means using them in their everyday speech as well as in their writing.

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