Monday, September 10, 2012

Word Improvement

When I was in high school, my favourite subject was English.  In fact, all through school, English was my subject where my talents for writing and reading shone through; whereas a lot of the other subjects didn't have the same attraction as this one.
It may have been the subject matter or the teachers or the books we read.  Whatever it was that made me love this subject, I know that from the very beginning of each lesson, I was right there in the moment with the teacher while my other classmates were probably thinking of other things - like being outside playing soccer or solving equations in maths - anywhere but in the English class.
What made my life a lot easier in high school was a good Thesaurus and Dictionary.  Without these in my school bag, I would have handed in ordinary work to my teachers in high school.  And the best thing is that my Dad gave me his Thesaurus - a Roget's Thesaurus from 1968 - to use.  I still have this very book sitting on the shelf to my left so it's within reach for any time I need it now.
However, when I was high school, it and the dictionary were the last two books to come out of my bag.  I normally waited until the whole class was seated and the door was closed (sometimes it wasn't) until I reached in and pulled them out and put them on my desk - sharing the books with a friend of mine next to me who wasn't good at spelling and I wanted her to better herself (because I knew she could if she pushed herself) - and yet still the kids in my year 11 English class depended on me to answer all the questions and be the main brains of the whole class.  If these two books came out too soon, I had them thrown at me from across the classroom from an unknown source.  Unfair, yes.  Stupid and childish, yes.  But I wasn't going to be discouraged by this display of what turned out to be total and complete jealousy by a classmate who wasn't good a subject where I was (after all you didn't see me throwing stuff at other students in a maths class when I saw others succeeding where I didn't.  I usually tortured myself when I didn't pass my tests in those classes). 

It's been 21 years since high school and I still use that Thesaurus - but the dictionary needs to be replace.  I also have picked up a copy of 'The Pocket MacQuarie Writer's Guide' to help me with my books and writings; to keep me from forgetting how things are supposed to be.
Along the way, in my writing world, a friend of mine has given me another copy of the same Roget's Thesaurus from the same printing of 1968 and I have the perfect person for this book.  By sheer coincidence, I had somebody give me another copy of 'The Pocket MacQuarie Writer's Guide' to me and it got me thinking even more that this person who loves to write as much as I do will enjoy using the same things I did in high school - and she is in high school too!  My niece, Riley, is in year 8 at Sandgate High School and she loves her English classes as much as I did at school; and she has picked up the passion to read from me as well.  So, I asked her over the weekend if she'd like the books I have acquired; and she jumped at the chance of owning two great books to help her through her subjects.  

So, what books have helped you in your past that you have been able to hand onto other people and relatives in your lives?  Have you seen an improvement in your children's school work or university papers?  Have you handed on a Thesaurus or dictionary to somebody who is just learning English (or the language you normally speak in your home country) and find they've found it easier to pick up your language because of it?  Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. I can't say as that I remember passing any books along to other readers.

    However, I would like to add that I was a Russian language major in college and I found the following three reference books instrumental in my studies:

    1) English-Russian, Russian-English Dictionary by Kenneth Katzner (

    2) 501 Russian Verbs by Thomas Beyer (

    3) English Grammar for Students of Russian by Edwina Jannie Cruise (

    For English classes I used both a dictionary and thesaurus as needed.

    I recently learned about a fabulous sounding book titled Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis, which helps to build one's vocabulary.

    I like to play the board game Scrabble occasionally and heard from another avid Scrabble player that this is a good book to help expand ones vocabulary and play Scrabble better. I'm up for learning new words, so ordered this book.

    1. Those books sound great! I'm still trying to hunt down a good dictionary that I can use where the old and new words are still in it - and nothing is taken out (and I hate it when words are removed from our language and dictionaries; even if they're not used much anymore. They should be still in the book so kids from future generations know of them).

      I'm always making sure my niece has the best books, and best ways, to learn more in her life. I don't wish for her to miss out on anything. Unlike me, she doesn't have a learning disability; and so I wish for her to go as far as she can push herself with the best education possible, no matter where she gets her source material.