Title: Write (Or Is That “Right”) Every Time: Cool Ways to Improve Your English
Publisher: Reader’s Digest- I Wish I Knew That Books

Reader’s Digest has been a trusted source of information for over 80 years now, and their “I Wish I Knew That Books” are putting valuable lessons into children’s hands in their famous easy-to-read format that really breaks down the basics into highly digestible (pun kind of intended) chapters. I received three books for review from them and will be talking about each one separately. The  first one I grabbed was the Write (Or Is That “Right”?) Every Time: Cool Ways To Improve Your English.   I think I let you in on my secret once before, but just in case, here it is: I actually pretty much suck at grammar. I practically failed sentence structure in 6th grade and still can’t tell you the individual parts of a sentence beyond nouns and verbs. I taught myself enough to get by, and learned a lot more over the years from editors, but never really mastered the basics.

Now that Jake is in school, I want to be able to help him with his homework when he gets to the grammar part, and considering the fact that he’s already like three years ahead of where I was at in school, I better learn soon! I really like Write (Or Is That “Right”?) Every Time because it’s written for middle-grade kids, so it’s easy to understand, but it’s not condescending or overly simple.  Each part of the sentence is broken down into short sections, with plenty of examples and explanations regarding exceptions to the rules (because goodness knows we can’t just make a rule and stick to it!).

The first half of the book covers the basics like nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, adjectives and conjunctions (anyone else have a certain song running through their heads now regarding conjunction junctions?). Once the basics are out of the way and you know that an adverb modifies a verb (I knew that, really I did!), you’ll move on to putting it all together in a logical manner. Before closing out the section on sentence structure, the book throws in a few pages of “Impressing Your Teacher” grammatical terms, like allegory and tautology (that last one was a new one for me, it means a combination of words with the same meaning. I always just referred to that as redundant).

The next third of the book covers spelling, another subject that always gave me issues in school. In fact, during my senior year, my English teacher told me I was a beautiful writer but I couldn’t spell worth squat, although she didn’t use the word “squat,’ she actually used an entirely different “s” word. This from a nun, mind you, so my spelling really must have been awful. Again, I’ve come a long way over the years, but I still rely on spell-check for certain words.  In defense of poor spellers everywhere, the English language is pretty whacked when it comes to how we string together letters to form words.

The last third of Write (Or Is That “Right”?) Every Time explains the basics of punctuation, and again carts out the usual suspects who like to break the rules. All in all, this is a great resource for anyone trying to teach their kids (or themselves) how to write properly (or properly write?).