The Children's Bookshelf: The Word Collector

Mar 19, 2018

THE WORD COLLECTOR written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds is a picture book salute to the wonderful world of words for 4-8 year olds. The book shows youngsters enjoying the act of collecting baseball cards, stamps, rocks and bugs. However, Jerome, our hero, collects words!


He finds words everywhere such as in the books he reads, in the signs and posters he sees and in the conversations and descriptions he hears spoken aloud. Jerome’s love for words is infectious. He likes short words, long words and words with multiple syllables that seem to sing such as guacamole, kaleidoscope and effervescent.


The young reader will have fun watching Jerome copy each word down on a yellow strip of paper and then paste each gently into thirty-one organized scrapbooks---one for scientific words, another for poetic words and yet others for words denoting sports, animals, flowers and so on.  When he attempts to pick up and carry his pile of books he trips and falls causing the words to fly out of their pages and become jumbled. Now small words are next to long words and happy words are mixed up with sad words. Not to worry. Jerome persists by writing poems and singing songs using a mixture of categories.


Reynold’s engaging pictures are perfect for telling this story as they illustrate well the flexibility of words to say that which is sweet as well as that which is powerful. “Some of his simplest words were his most POWERFUL,” says the author-illustrator over a picture of Jerome telling another boy from a different cultural background that he understands.


The Word Collector written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds is a joyful picture book about the beauty of words and the power of communication (Orchard Books/Scholastic) 2018.

Questions and activities for The Word Collector



Do you have a favorite word? Print it or write it on a piece of paper. Study it. Why is it your favorite word? Do you like what it looks like, what it sounds like or what it means? Find a notebook in which to collect your favorite words just like Jerome did in this story.


What is the funniest sounding word you have ever heard? Say it aloud. Whisper it. Repeat it like an echo. Shout it. Sing it! Draw a picture of how that word makes you feel. Use colors to match your feelings.

 Have fun!


Jerome also uses words to make other children happy. How does he do this? What are the kind words he uses? What other kind words do you know? Have you ever used any of your kind words to make your friends or family members feel better?


Look through the book and find 10 words collected by Jerome that you do not know. Look them up in a dictionary to find out what they mean.