Language Arts Fun

Call me a grammar geek or a word nerd if you will.  I have to admit it: I really enjoy browsing in the 400s.  Here are a few  titles I think you might like too.

Grammar Girl is the technical editor behind the Grammar Girl podcast, and Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students is her first aimed at teens.  Yes, it is a book all about the rules and exceptions of the English language, but she manages to make it interesting–even kind of inspiring.  She writes in the introduction,

“If by the end of this book you find yourself addicted to grammar, to the many wonders of the comma, or to spotting apostrophe misuse, don’t fight it.  Embrace your inner grammar guru.” 

I consider this book a must-have for middle and high school collections.

I never would have thought of adverbs as detectives before reading Grammar by Simon Basher.  Adverb speaks in the first person:

“I’m a word detective.  I tease and test Verb, probing for just a little bit more information.  You slept last night, you say? Don’t keep me in the dark—exactly how did you sleep?  Deeply or fitfully? Peacefully or restlessly?” 

I got a kick out of all of these characters, but for middle school students who are trying to keep all these new concepts straight, these little cartoon characters might be just the thing to help them remember.

Lemony Snicket defined “nemesis” in The Reptile Room as “The worst enemy you could imagine.” Of course that isn’t a precise definition, and it doesn’t begin to tell the story of how that word came to mean what it does.  That’s the story Gifts from the Gods aims to tell.  Nemesis, it turns out, was a Greek goddess of justice, and her story, as it relates to the definition of the word, is in this book with many others for a fascinating look at language and mythology that includes quotations from children’s books old and new as examples of the words in use.  This book would do well in an elementary or middle school collection.

Language arts teachers may be interested in a new professional title that takes on good writing from a unique angle.  Grammar Rants: How a Backstage Tour of Writing Complaints Can Help Students Make Informed, Savvy Choices About Their Writing takes real-world examples of outraged grammar complaints from books, blogs, and other media and incorporates them into lessons that are designed to help kids think critically about language and how it is used.  What better way to empower students to engage with language than to take on those who criticize their choices? Don’t worry—the aim of this book is not to let student writers off the hook for their mistakes.  Rather, the goal of the lessons seems to be helping students see why mistakes happen and why they upset some people. 


Gifts From the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology by Lise Lunge-Larsen. October 2011.

Grammar by Mary Budzik. July 2011.

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Guide to Writing for Students by Mignon Fogarty. May 2011.

Grammar Rants by Patricia A. Dunn and Ken Lindblom. March 2011.

Blogger:  Mindy R.