The Very Inappropriate Word

The Very Inappropriate Word, written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave Coverly, was a nominee for the 2015-16 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Michael is a word collector. Whenever he comes across interesting words, he admires them and puts them under his bed. One day on the bus, though, he hears an inappropriate word. It’s a word that, even though it’s bad, is interesting, so Michael collects it. He hears others use the word, too. Other kids, people on the radio, and even his mom say this inappropriate word. Michael decides to share this word with his friends at school…which is maybe not the smartest thing he could have done.

When Michael’s teacher learns he’s been spreading the inappropriate word around, she gives him the task of finding more spelling words for the class. Michael dives into his work, and he finds so many cool words that he simply forgets about the inappropriate word…as he should.

The Very Inappropriate Word, while maybe not the best choice for a read-aloud, could open up discussions with young readers about word choice and the importance of a large vocabulary. It may also emphasize that using “inappropriate words” shows a lack of imagination.

A fun exercise to go along with this book could be to have readers find interesting words in the dictionary (or in their own spelling lists) and create drawings, like those featured in this book, that illustrate just what the words mean.


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