Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Help Your Kids with Language Arts: A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Grammar, Punctuation and Writing (DK Publishing)

Help Your Kids with Language Arts:
A Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Grammar, Punctuation and Writing
Author: DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) 
Publisher: DK Adult 
Publication Date: May 20, 2013

I read a lot of books about language and education, and I've reviewed some great ones (see below for just a few) but this one is AMAZING. I'm serious. It's amazing. I was actually exclaiming out loud as I read it (things like "Wow! This book is amazing!").

What makes it so great? Well first of all, every page could be blown up and used as a poster on the classroom wall. EVERY PAGE. Just look at the illustration below. It's beautiful! Every page is like that: a colourful, easy-to-read infographic that can be used as a handy reference for things like parts of speech, verb tenses, silent letters, and a whole bunch more.

It's a fantastic reference for teachers, students, writers, bloggers (especially those of us who are smug about our writing skills and then find ourselves getting lazier and lazier with grammar and spelling until one day we realize that a handy chart on the wall might, in fact, be in order), and anyone else who might need some reminders about the language. Actually, it would be great for people who have learned English as a second language and want to make sure they have the rules down.

But the book is really perfect for--as the title suggests--parents. Specifically, it's for when your kids are coming home with homework about things like the past perfect tense or when to use a semi-colon, or something called phrasal verbs, and you think, "When did this get so hard? I speak English. I went to elementary school, for heaven's sake. Why don't I remember this stuff?" But you don't want to tell your kids you don't remember because you should remember. And you do remember, really. You just might need a little handy-dandy reminder. And that's where this book comes in.

You know what else makes it great? (Besides EVERYTHING!) It starts each section--grammar, spelling, punctuation, even the introduction to the book itself--by asking the same simple question: Why? Why learn English? Why learn proper grammar? Why learn to spell? 

It may seem obvious but my partner Mike, who teaches English to junior high (middle school) students, assures me that this is the question you will hear ALL THE TIME. Why do I need to know this? When am I ever going to use this? Well this book gives excellent answers to all of those questions. English is spoken all over the world so speaking well can help with travel and job prospects. Punctuation is important because it changes the meaning of a sentence or idea. Spelling is important because spell check programs do not catch everything. Speaking and writing well can make people take your ideas more seriously.

DK Publishing has some fantastic books. You probably have some in your house right now (you know all those Eyewitness books?). If this book is any indication, I am beyond excited to check out some of the others in the series, like Help Your Kids With Science and Help Your Kids with Math. My only regret is that I got this book as a digital galley only. I'll have to go out and buy a print copy of my own!

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from Edelweiss (Above the Tree Line). I was asked to write an honest review, though not necessarily a favourable one. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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