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Noah Webster: Man of Many Words by Catherine…

Noah Webster: Man of Many Words

by Catherine Reef

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I found this an easy, interesting read. The text is a larger print, but is the primary focus of the work. The illustrations are primarily supplemental, but very helpful in aiding the descriptions of the time and the people. Webster has not been given much attention in the past in terms of young adult literature, and I appreciate that this accessible text can be enjoyed by young people who do not know the father of how we, as Americans, speak.

History teachers can tie this informational text into a unit on the Colonial America, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the development of the young American nation. The library can feature this text by the Webster Dictionary--his life's work. Through that display, students can see the person behind the words. ( )
  MagLuCliff | Mar 10, 2016 |
Richie's Picks: NOAH WEBSTER: MAN OF MANY WORDS by Catherine Reef, Clarion, August 2015, 224p., ISBN: 978-0-54412983-2


-- Some of the new words added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2014

As a young man, Noah Webster did not make friends easily. He had the charm and manners of a cardboard box, and he was so full of himself that the box often seemed on the verge of bursting apart.

But Noah Webster had a potent idea and the determination to make it happen. It resulted in Webster’s having a significant impact on America’s direction.

"Webster saw that something larger...was at stake. It was a point that many people missed. The states needed to back the decisions of Congress--decisions made by their own representatives--if the nation was to function. With thirteen separate states calling the shots, the young republic would soon fall apart. Even if people hated [an enacted law], the states had to endorse it for the good of the country...Concerning a law--any law, 'no matter whether it be right or wrong, in either case it ought to be strictly obeyed, so long as it is law.’ He also said, ‘A refusal to comply with it annihilates our existence as a united body.'"

In NOAH WEBSTER: MAN OF MANY WORDS, we learn that Noah Webster was a federalist, a supporter of a strong federal government (as opposed to those favoring states’ rights). During the Revolutionary War, during the Articles of Confederation era, and then after the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the states, Noah Webster repeatedly pushed for a powerful federal government. He believed that the new nation needed the U.S. government to be strong enough to ensure that the states remained truly united through good times and bad.

The bright idea that Webster brought to the party was that the thirteen states needed to be united by a common American language. He sold this idea to educators and politicians. He spent decade upon decade developing and hawking American spelling and grammar books as he approached his magnum opus--compiling An American Dictionary of the English Language.

Author Catherine Reef makes it is clear that Noah Webster deserves his share of credit for the strong U.S federal government we have today. And this is a good thing.

Think about it. If things had gone differently in Webster's day, and we had not succeeded in creating a strong federal government, we could still see states holding onto segregation laws, anti-gay laws, and sex-based discrimination laws.

We’ve all grown up seeing the name Webster. NOAH WEBSTER: MAN OF MANY WORDS shows us why we should be thankful for the pompous and patriotic guy who lived in the days of the founding fathers and brought us that huge book of words that seems to weigh as much as a concrete block.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/
http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php ( )
  richiespicks | Feb 2, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544129830, Hardcover)

Noah Webster may be best remembered the enormous and ambitious task of writing his famous dictionary, but for him, this accomplishment was a means to an end. His true goal was to streamline the language spoken in our newly formed country so that it could be used as a force to bring people together and be a source of national pride. Though people laughed at his ideas, Webster never doubted himself. In the end, his so-called foolish notions achieved just what he had hoped.
        Here, in the only account of Noah Webster for teens, the seasoned biographer Catherine Reef guides us through Webster's remarkable life, from boyhood on a Connecticut farm through the fight for American independence to his days as a writer and political activist who greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and the direction of the young United States.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:37 -0400)

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