Best Dictionary for a Fifth Grader?
September 26, 2010 7:41 PM   Subscribe

What is the best dictionary for a 5th grader?

My son has frequent need of a dictionary this year and our old Websters with the fine print is frustrating him. But when I go to the bookstore and look for school dictionaries I find mostly spelling dictionaries or dictionaries for little kids. I want a straightforward, easy to navigate dictionary with reasonably large type, a large selection of words, and not too much that is unnecessary like pronunciation guides.
posted by LarryC to Education (11 answers total)
Get him a large print Webster's dictionary, then. No need to dumb down the actual content. The best dictionary is one that keeps on giving year after year!
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:45 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Webster's II New Riverside Desk Dictionary is an abridged version of the college dictionary. I think many schools use this for kids in 5th grade and older. We have one based on the school's recommendation and it is decent. Being shorter it is less intimidating, yet it has most words. I think there are others in this vein.
posted by caddis at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2010

How about a hand-held electronic dictionary? They're pretty cheap and probably more appealing to a fifth grader than thumbing through guide words. Plus it would be much lighter than a book and easier to carry around.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2010

I'm always a fan of American Heritage dictionaries. They have well-written definitions that are based on actual prevalence of each definition of the word and usage notes, which help with common word choice errors (fewer vs less, affect vs effect...)

They have a student dictionary designed for grades 6-8, but they also have a large print edition directed toward adults.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:24 PM on September 26, 2010

Or how about a magnifying glass to go with the dictionary you've got. When I was that age, I found the magnifying glass fascinating in its own right. Using it might add enough interest to keep the dictionary from getting frustrating.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:26 PM on September 26, 2010

I remember appreciating my young-person's paper dictionary with reasonably-sized type and lots of illustrations. It was just more pleasant and easier to browse than a grown-up dictionary or an electronic dictionary. I think it was one of those American Heritage student dictionaries.
posted by dreamyshade at 11:16 PM on September 26, 2010

Why can't he use "define + $word" in Google?
posted by halogen at 11:45 PM on September 26, 2010

For reference, I tutor three fifth graders, and they all prefer Google and are very familiar with it's dictionary function.
posted by halogen at 11:46 PM on September 26, 2010

Argh, autocorrect. Its.
posted by halogen at 11:47 PM on September 26, 2010

Assuming he can't use or, or seconding American Heritage, which has good definitions and an etymology guide. But also, if he has a Mac, the Oxford Dictionary is already on there.
posted by Busoni at 7:17 AM on September 27, 2010

Is this for home use?

What I've always wanted to do if/when I had kids is to get a HUGE dictionary, like a big, fancy, mother of a book, and have a permanent place for it in the house (a lecture in the library/study/den, perhaps?). Whenever he needs to look something up, it's there.

And make sure you tell him that it's always OK to look up a work. Pride should never lead to ignorance.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2010

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