Salinger’s book Well Defined: Vocabulary in Rhyme provides me with a way to teach my students vocabulary and poetry simultaneously. I’m passionate about both, which is why I was so excited to get my hands on this book yesterday. Each poem contains a title (the word) and a definition at the bottom of each page, almost as if it’s a footnote to the poem. The illustrations that go along with many of the poems further enhance the meaning of the words they accompany. Here’s one of my favorites:
Incessant just doesn’t know when to quit
seemingly having no beginning
that dog barking at all hours of the night
that friend who always borrows money
a toothache, an ulcer, bad dreams
the nagging of a parent or spouse
like water torture
overflowing the cup
never giving in
never giving up
Well Defined was written by Michael Salinger and illustrated by Sam Henderson. It is new this month from Wordsong. A review copy was provided by the publisher. The poem, above, was reprinted with the Boyds Mills Press.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).