In the movie Say Anything, there is a moment when John Cusak’s character is in Ione Skye’s bedroom and he sees a giant dictionary she has, with words highlighted, underlined and marked up, with notes all throughout the margins. When he asks, she tells him that she marked the words she had looked up throughout the years. And the book was completely covered with her notes. I always loved that.
Yes, I adore my words. And as my kids got older and started to ask about more complicated words, I would help them to find the meanings or I would explain the meaning and context. But eventually, I got tired of being the human Google, tired of giving the same definitions over and over again because it never seemed to stick.
Now, we keep a dictionary on the side table in the living room. I refer my kids to the dictionary to look up the words that they may not know, which is always met with eye rolls and heavy sighs. I believe that the act of looking up these words themselves will help cement the meanings in their heads. I guess time will tell if that’s the case or not.
When I encouraged them to highlight the words they looked up, as a way to keep track and see what they’ve learned, I was met with a look that was the equivalent of “Mom, you are crazy and that is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard.”
But I still think it’s cool.