The young adult novel Frindle by Andrew Clements is the story of a clever fifth grade student, Nick Allen, who decides to invent a new word, and the consequences of what he does and the way he does it. It is a wonderful, engaging novel that captivated all three of my sons in elementary school. The story touches on many philosophical issues, including the nature of language, the meaning of words, the social and political justifications for educating young people, and the nature of creativity. It’s a perfect story to read aloud to your children or to a class, or to read along with your reader child(ren), and discuss along the way. An illustrative passage, in which Nick’s teacher is speaking to him:

” ‘Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas. You and me and everyone else in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country. We all agree. . . . But if all of us in this room decided to call that creature something else, and if everyone else did, too, then that’s what it would be called, and one day it would be written in the dictionary that way. We decide what goes in that book.’ And she pointed at the giant dictionary.”