Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reading Through Noah Webster and Words

Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America's basic text book in all fields. God's Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct. - Noah Webster
Noah Webster was an incredible man. He learned twenty languages and spent twenty-five years of his life writing his famous American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). If you have one of these dictionaries you know the enormous value of his work. The first American English dictionary, he used scriptures to help define many of the entries. He felt a need for Americans to have their own dictionary (that wasn't British English) due to the differences in the two. I highly recommend you have one of these dictionaries in your home or at least use the online version

My 10 yod son continually shows amazement when I 
have him use this dictionary. He has asked me many questions about how one man could write such an giant book. His questions led me to the idea to make a unit study about Noah Webster and the value of words. The Bible makes it clear how powerful words are. After all, Hebrews 11:3 tells us that the world is framed (or held together) by words. In this case, God's words. And our words contain the power of life and death in them according to Proverbs 18:21. The Bible has much to say about words - God's word and ours, so we have spent time looking at many scriptures along these lines.

For an introduction to Noah Webster we read the wonderful picture book, Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris. We also read the Abeka book, Noah Webster: A Man Who Loved Words, a more complete biography about Noah Webster's entire life. While reading these we read sections of Noah Webster's Advice to the Young and Moral Catechism in print by Wallbuilders. (There may be a free version online). In reading this I kept thinking that we need men like this today to speak out about the moral issues that desperately need to be taught and lived. It is was clear that Webster had spent much time in the Word of God and walking with the Lord.

We also read several quirky and unusual books about famous men who valued words. This is obvious from the amount of importance they placed on reading and on having a large 
library. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books. Also, we read about the Irish Saint, Columba in The Man Who Loved Books by Jean Fritz.

With all of
 this emphasis on words and reading and books I decided to include a book about the largest ancient library we know about, The Library at Alexandria and America's largest library, The Library of Congress by Cornerstones of Freedom.

If doing this as a unit study you might want to include some books on words such as How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? What are Homonyms and Homophones?:  and Vocabulary Cartoons: Kids Learn a Word a Minute and Never Forget It.

Today, I had m
y 10 yod son look up something in the 1828 Webster's dictionary and he said, "Just think, Noah Webster learned 20 languages to write this book and he wrote it all by hand!"


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