Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Today begins the second half of a year riding on a roller coaster we can’t seem to exit. Just when we think the thing has stopped, it takes off again, and we haven’t had time to re-buckle our seat belts. I’ve been looking for something to hang on to, and I’ve found something to share.


DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z, by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, Carolrhoda Books, 2020.

If every home had a copy of this book and used it in conversation often enough to make it “theirs”, we would definitely have a better world. One alphabet letter can start everyone in the family thinking until the next chance to sit and talk or stir dinner together or whatever you are doing to ward off your own brand of cabin fever.

Each alphabet letter has its own quote, its own poem about the topic title of the letter; and each poem is written in a different poetic form. Insights from “Irene Says” or “Charles says” are followed by “Try It” encouraging readers to get out of their comfort zones.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, paired with B for “belonging”: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

Irene, who lives her poem, is the winner of the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award. Enjoy her warmth and wisdom at

Charles co-authored Can I touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship with Irene.  He is a poet and professional actor. Find out more about Charles at

Mehrdokht Amini, an Iranian British children’s book illustrator,  lives in London. She created the illustrations in this book with collage, photography, acrylic, and digital painting. They work together and separately to create an emotional range and set the tone for each new conversation.       

Irene’s thoughts inspire me. Charles gives me reasons to persevere. Mehrdokht's artwork is an invitation to explore.

Their book speaks to all ages.

Hillview School Library