Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z

Irene Latham (Author) Charles Waters (Author)
& 1 more
Backorder (temporarily out of stock)


How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a try it prompt for an activity.

This second poetic collaboration from Irene Latham and Charles Waters builds upon themes of diversity and inclusiveness from their previous book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Illustrations from Iranian-British artist Mehrdokht Amini offer readers a rich visual experience.

Product Details

$19.98  $18.38
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
February 04, 2020
7.0 X 0.6 X 10.1 inches | 1.14 pounds
Library Binding

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Irene Latham is a poet and novelist who lives and writes in Birmingham, Alabama. Her debut novel Leaving Gee's Bend was named a Bank Street College Best Book, a SIBA finalist, a Crystal Kite Finalist and ALLA's Children's Book of the Year. As a child she dreamed of being a zoo veterinarian and even trained as a teenage zoo volunteer. All it took was observing one surgery to convince her that perhaps she'd better just write about the animals instead.

Charles Waters is a children's poet, actor, and co-author of Charlotte Huck Honor Book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. His poems have appeared in various anthologies including One Minute Till Bedtime and The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. Charles performs his one-person show as well as conducts poetry performance and writing workshops for elementary and middle school audiences. He lives in New York City.

Mehrdokht Amini has illustrated several books for children including Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the 2016 Children's Africana Best Book Award, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan. She has illustrated books published in Iran, Poland, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mehrdokht grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England. Visit her website at MyArt2C.com.


This collaborative effort from the team behind Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship utilizes poetry to explore identity, diversity, empathy, social justice, community, and change. Each entry seeks to examine, rather than define, a central concept (such as acceptance, equality, or kindness) and consists of a quotation, poem, personal anecdote, and a 'Try it!' prompt to encourage readers to take action. A color-coded table of contents indicates the author of each poem, and the anecdotes shared by each poet contextualize both the poems and the selected terms. The featured quotes come from a variety of sources representing diverse perspectives and identities. Amini's rich illustrations, rendered in acrylic, digital painting, collage, and photography, thoughtfully complement each entry. Each poem includes a note about the form used, adding to the collection's potential as a mentor text for young poets. Back matter includes an authors' note, references for the selected quotations, additional recommended reading, poetry resources, and an index of poetic forms. VERDICT While some poems and entries are more successful than others, this inclusive, thought-provoking anthology offers a number of entry points for exploring concepts and issues related to identity, social justice, and making a difference. Recommended.--School Library Journal

-- "Journal"

This poetry collection is devoted to life-affirming qualities. Two-page spreads, organized in alphabetical order from acceptance to zest, address positive attributes, aspects of mindfulness and gratitude, acts of kindness and encouragement, and exhortations for inclusion, empathy, and respect. The coauthors take turns providing a personal anecdote for each term, a 'Try It!' scenario (stop and think how another person might feel, problem solve in a different way, investigate a new idea, etc.), and an original poem. These 50 poems take various formats, running from the readily recognizable (acrostic, ode) to the more obscure (villanelle, tricube). Inspirational quotes pop up on every other page, and vivid graphics, featuring torn-paper collage, photographs, and acrylic digital paintings, complement the various fonts that wind across the busy pages. The anticipated audience is children in the upper-elementary grades and middle school. However, any reader who is preparing a presentation or leading a discussion on social behavior, character education, self-actualization, or making a difference will find a trove of accessible and appealing material within these colorful, cheerful pages.--Booklist

-- "Journal"

'Awash in attempts to help cool our fevered world, we/ Begin simply with words.' Each term in this unconventional dictionary receives a four-part exploration alongside Amini's eclectically illustrated spreads: a poem, an inspirational quote, a first-person anecdote from the authors, and suggested 'Try It!' actions. Latham and Waters rifle the storehouse of poetic forms, using structure to clarify meaning, for example through a senryu, 'Service': 'helping hands fill plates/ with meat-and-potato peaks/ hope is gravy.' Forms range from the aubade to the villanelle, each explained in a brief caption. Latham and Waters's personal stories are plainspoken and relatable (Latham: 'One of the quickest ways to get myself out of a funk is to . . . get busy serving others'), and the suggested actions, accessible: 'Look into service opportunities in your area.' The approach creates multiple pathways for engagement. Extensive supplementary materials include an index of poetic forms.--starred, Publishers Weekly

-- "Journal"