Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Noah Webster and His Words

9780547390550 Noah Webster & His Words
Written by Jeri Chase Ferris
Published at Houghton Mifflin

About the book

Webster’s American Dictionary is the second most popular book ever printed in English. But who was that Webster? Noah Webster (1758–1843) was a bookish Connecticut farm boy who became obsessed with uniting America through language. He spent twenty years writing two thousand pages to accomplish that, and the first 100 percent American dictionary was published in 1828 when he was seventy years old. This clever, hilariously illustrated account shines a light on early American history and the life of a man who could not rest until he’d achieved his dream. An illustrated chronology of Webster’s life makes this a picture perfect bi-og-ra-phy [noun: a written history of a person's life].

Who is Jeri Chase Ferris?

Jeri Chase Ferris is the award-winning author of eleven biographies for children and young adults. She specializes in biographies of women and minorities - people who have done great and important deeds, but have been overlooked in history. "We all like to be treated fairly," Jeri says. "Many of the people I write about were not treated fairly. My books set the record straight." She lives in California. This is her first book with Houghton Mifflin. Visit her website at!

My Thoughts

Yesterday it would have been the birthday of Noah Webster – he would have turned 254 years old.   But who is this man who decided that words were so important that the American people needed their own dictionary?

In this little book geared for children you will discover the life of the man behind the tool that helps us when we are writing – the dictionary. Thanks to his teacher who convinced his dad of the possibilities in sending Noah’s to Yale, this young man has become the author of the second most popular book ever printed in English, after the Bible. But the journey in publishing the famous dictionary has taken quite some time.    He first published a speller, then a grammar and finally a reader book before thinking of putting a dictionary together.  You would think that by then he would have been more comfortable financially but that wasn’t the case as the printers became rich but not Noah Webster.   He wrote numerous schoolbooks during his lifetime and when he decided to write his dictionary he decided that he needed to learn 20 different languages (including Arabic, Italian and Welsh) to help the people to discover where their words came from.   What an undertaking!   He started writing his dictionary in 1807 and it was officially published in 1828. 

Today, we can still access the 1828 version of the Noah Webster’s dictionary which is quite popular among homeschoolers.   It is still available in printed as well as online.   Recently I also discovered that you can download two apps for 99 cents each – A-M and N-Z – which I immediately purchased so we can refer to it whenever we wanted to.   The beauty of this edition is that the definition are Christian based compared to the 2012 edition.

This book is a beautiful biography that will highlights the life of Noah Webster.   If you want your kids to learn more about the man behind the tool they used to write, this book is a wonderful addition to your personal library.

Noah Webster & His Words is available at your favourite bookstore, even at or


Oh!  And if want to paper edition of the 1828 Webster Dictionary you can find it also on or


Disclaimer: Thanks to Thomas Allen for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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