Parenting

9 Best Dictionaries For Kids Of All Ages— Go Ahead, Tell Them To Look It Up!

Updated: 
Originally Published: 
Dictionary for Kids

How do you spell… D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y? We’ve had this conversation more than we care to admit with our kiddos during homeschooling this year. With the return to academics rapidly approaching in whatever capacity, we’re finding the need to head back to basics and invest in a good ole’ fashion dictionary. Sure a Kindle version or an online dictionary will work if you know exactly what you’re trying to look up, but dictionaries are more than just a quick spell check— they’re a vocabulary building tool. (Scrabble dictionary anyone? Yes that IS actually a word!) The extra benefit is the spelling skill they need to actually flip through the pages piecing the correct spelling together, kids today are lacking this skill (hell adults can’t spell either), and this is only being made worse by autocorrect making up words and changing text unbeknownst to our kiddos. At least with a dictionary at hand they can see how ridiculous it is that autocorrect spells it rediculous.

As humans we process visuals faster than we do words, this is also true for kids. Children’s dictionaries partner the traditional set up of a dictionary along with images to help our kids visualize what the definitions actually mean. As kids get older they are more ready for larger editions with less images and more words. Reading through a dictionary designed for kids has been shown to build vocabulary and differentiation in word choice with kids writing. In a world of online instruction where words are thoughts, having access to thousands of words is a recipe for success. Just wait till the Britannica All New Kids’ Encyclopedia comes out for fall!

While Webster’s dictionary remains king, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best age appropriate dictionaries for kids K-12 and beyond, Spanish and English. Bring on the family spelling bee!

Best Dictionary for Early Readers

Best Dictionary for Upper Elementary School

Merriam-Webster's Elementary School Kids Dictionary

The ultimate goal of owning a kids dictionary of the English language is to get them to use it, right? We all want our kids to be word nerds. The Merriam-Webster Elementary Dictionary is truly next level in moving up the childhood dictionary ladder. Including 36,000 words, it has less images than it’s younger sibling, but still looks and feels like a kids book. Recommended age is 3rd-5th grade, but it’s relevant way longer than that.Some of our favorite features include history paragraphs so they can learn the stories behind the creation of words, and Greek and Latin word root paragraphs to help with vocabulary and spelling. (Yeah we think we can use this tool too.) Additionally, this version includes quotes from children’s literature to help connect the vocabulary to what kids are actually reading. Amazing!One reviewer agrees, “This is an essential item all kids should have. This has taught my daughter to do research (by taking initiative to actually look something up, rather than just “Google” it). Some words even have pictures that help illustrate the meaning of the word better. My daughter is 10 years old and has been using it for the last couple months since I bought it for her. I love that the pages have listed on the top corner the beginning and end words/letters for that specific page. She’s now made it a custom of hers to automatically grab her dictionary when she doesn’t understand something, rather than asking.”

$9.19

Best Dictionary for Middle School

Best Dictionary for High School & College

Looking for more haves for back to school? Check out our complete mom approved kids gear checklist.

SHOP THE STORY

Merriam-Webster's Elementary School Kids Dictionary

The ultimate goal of owning a kids dictionary of the English language is to get them to use it, right? We all want our kids to be word nerds. The Merriam-Webster Elementary Dictionary is truly next level in moving up the childhood dictionary ladder. Including 36,000 words, it has less images than it’s younger sibling, but still looks and feels like a kids book. Recommended age is 3rd-5th grade, but it’s relevant way longer than that. Some of our favorite features include history paragraphs so they can learn the stories behind the creation of words, and Greek and Latin word root paragraphs to help with vocabulary and spelling. (Yeah we think we can use this tool too.) Additionally, this version includes quotes from children’s literature to help connect the vocabulary to what kids are actually reading. Amazing! One reviewer agrees, “This is an essential item all kids should have. This has taught my daughter to do research (by taking initiative to actually look something up, rather than just “Google” it). Some words even have pictures that help illustrate the meaning of the word better. My daughter is 10 years old and has been using it for the last couple months since I bought it for her. I love that the pages have listed on the top corner the beginning and end words/letters for that specific page. She’s now made it a custom of hers to automatically grab her dictionary when she doesn’t understand something, rather than asking.”

$9.19

This article was originally published on