Celebrating the dictionary

  • Dictionary Contributed photo—

  • On Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m., Cushman Library in Bernardston will be hosting an evening of the game “dictionary,” as played around a big table with a big dictionary and a group of people who love words and, hopefully, laughter. Adults and teens (12 and up) are welcome to join. Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Published: 1/24/2020 12:46:37 PM

As a librarian, a love of words is pretty much a prerequisite for the job. My love for words dates back to my childhood, as the daughter of a professor and a mother who crowned herself the “grammar queen.” It is thanks to my mother that I know the rules of spelling and good sentence structure, and have an understanding of and appreciation for the “Oxford comma.”

My parents always taught us that if you can determine, or even guess, what the first letter of a word is, you can find it in the dictionary. We were not often just given the spelling of a word, we usually had to talk it out, work for it, and because of that all of the six children in our family have a deep appreciation for words and language.

When I was about 9 years old, my mother created a game called “dictionary,” which we often played at our dining room table in our home on Center Street, one street over from Cushman Library. After family dinners, we would push the dishes aside, pull out the “big red dictionary” (which now resides in my home) and lots of paper and pencils, and play a seemingly simple game that expanded our vocabularies (no matter what age the player); deepened our appreciation for word derivation and function; and created memories of words and laughter that have stayed with us for more than four decades (like the time the word was “peristalsis”). Playing “dictionary” was a great way for everyone to learn something new and connect as a family.

Emily Brewster, lexicographer

I met Emily Brewster, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, more than a decade ago, and I must say it was kind of thrilling to meet someone who actually writes definitions for the dictionary. It’s fun to be her friend on Facebook when she is sussing out the use of a particular word, like when she asked “What do you use to flip a pancake?” It turns out, in New England we use a “spatula” (for many things), but in other parts of the country they use a “pancake turner,” which often looks just like a spatula.

Emily, who has become well known for her Wednesday morning conversations about words with Monte Belmonte on WRSI, is fascinating and engaging. We at Cushman Library were happy to host a recent visit with her. She talked about the process of writing definitions for the dictionary, of everything involved with a word making its way into the print tome, and now digital realm. The evening, “Things You Learn When You Write the Dictionary,” was interesting and entertaining.

Learn how to play ‘dictionary’

On Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m., the library will be hosting an evening of the game “dictionary,” as played around a big table with a big dictionary and a group of people who love words and, hopefully, laughter. Adults and teens (12 and up) are welcome to join us for this evening of wordy fun, and if it’s a hit, we’ll make it a monthly gathering during the cooler months.

Other offerings at Cushman

In addition to celebrating the dictionary, Cushman will be hosting a series of thematic coloring evening for adults and teens (12 and up), and one evening for kids and adults. “Colouring the Beatles” on Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will feature images of “The Fab Four” from the “Crayola Coloring Songbook,” lyrics from John Lennon and Paul McCartney and “The Yellow Submarine Colouring Book.” Come, relax and “Let It Be.” On Monday, Feb. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., we’ll be “Coloring Good Vibes,” featuring images from the “Good Vibes Coloring Book,” “The Geometric Coloring Book for Adults,” “The Adult Coloring Book of Stress Relieving Patterns” and the “Big Coloring Book of Large Print Designs.” This evening will be all about relaxing and getting into the coloring zone with beautiful images and patterns. Our final adult and teen evening, “Coloring Harry Potter,” will take place on Monday, March 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., featuring images of our favorite wizard, his friends and locations from the books using the “Harry Potter Coloring Book” and the “Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Coloring Book.” It’ll be an enchanted evening. During school vacation, on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., kiddos ages 4 years old and up and their adults are invited to “Come Color Dr. Seuss with Us.” We’ll be coloring images from “The Dr. Seuss Coloring Book” and some online sources for less complicated images. We’ll have the Keurig going and cocoa cups ready.

Along with our special programming, Cushman offers regular weekly and monthly opportunities to enjoy. “The Wednesday Night Knitters” gather around our big table every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. All skill levels, even absolute beginners, are welcome to join in. “BONJOUR!,” our French conversation group, meets every second Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and our “Book Discussion Group” meets one Monday each month to discuss a book selected by one of the members. Our next discussion is on Jan. 27 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., during which we will be talking about Alice Hoffman’s “Faithful.” As for our youngest patrons, we host Story Hour for all ages of children every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. throughout the school year, and “First Fridays Preschool Story Time” from 11 a.m. to noon September through June.

Wordy fun at other local libraries

The Leverett Library, at 75 Montague Road, invites everyone aged 7 years old and older to join the “Family Scrabble Club,” which meets every Tuesday from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. through June 16.

Warwick Free Public Library, at 4 Hotel Road, is hosting Scrabble Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. during the winter months. Folks are encouraged to bring their own Scrabble sets if they have them, in case they get a crowd.

Arms Library, at 60 Bridge St. in Shelburne Falls, hosts the “Third Friday Open Prose and Poetry Series,” which takes place at 7 p.m. on the third Friday of each month. People are invited to read during five-minute time slots.

Karen Stinchfield is director of the Cushman Library in Bernardston.

Greenfield Recorder

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