Book Review: The Charlie Brown Dictionary

Publisher: Scholastic Book Services

Year: 1973

Pages: 400

Type: Softcover


“…a picture book, and a book of knowledge.”

Charles Monroe Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 26, 1922, and passed away in the year 2000. His popular Peanuts comic strip was well established by the time of this books publication in 1973. The characters would certainly appeal to children between the ages of five and eight years old, the target audience.

This dictionary is actually based on an earlier tome from 1947 called The Rainbow Dictionary. Schulz made some additions and deletions to reflect the changes in modern language known to the children of the 1970s.

The idea was to include only the words that would be most used by children. Eight lists were consulted to ascertain these words including, appropriately, an analysis of the comic pages of standard Sunday newspapers sampled over a period of one year.

The layout follows from Aa to Zz with every letter in-between:

Schulz’s faith was complex and personal. When he taught Sunday school, he would never tell people what to believe. God was very important to him and he often touched on religious themes in his work on Peanuts, including in the classic television cartoons.

It can be noticed then that in this dictionary he does include an entry on GOD with a basic Biblical definition of what that meant to him. It can also be noted that he does not include an entry on EVOLUTION, which may or may not be significant here. As noted earlier, only words used often by children are included in this dictionary.

No set format was adhered to when presenting the words. Some are singular, some plural, some have multiple parts of the verb listed. Only the forms of the words that a child would regularly use are included. I guess the other variations would come later from reading other books?

All of the words are defined in some way. You can see that most are used in a sentence for context. The Peanuts characters are added to ‘speak’ by actions the words to make it easier for children to grasp the concepts.

The style of language throughout the book is simple. The expressions are those of children, and the ideas and situations are within the range of the common experience of children.” – Page 7

I would give this dictionary a 4.5 Out of 5 Stars. I’m not sure how I feel about the selection process whereby only words already used by young children are included. Wouldn’t adding new words to grow their vocabulary be appropriate? Regardless, you can’t beat the inclusion of the Peanuts characters!

Amazon has old copies available for under ten dollars in both soft and hardcover versions.

For more scholastic fun with Charlie Brown, check out my Book Review of Charlie Brown’s Super Book of Things to Do and Collect. Another great book for children!

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