Kid-Friendly Dictionaries

Michele Meleen
Kids using dictionary

Using a kid-friendly dictionary can help boost your child's dictionary skills and learn more effectively. Age-appropriate presentations from a children's reference book make learning more accessible and fun.

Child-Friendly Dictionaries Online

Kids today have the luxury of quick homework resources like online dictionaries. Look for options from recognizable names and education companies to get the best kid-friendly dictionary online your child.

Little Explorers Picture Dictionary

Kids can find more than 2,500 illustrated child-definitions in the Little Explorers Picture Dictionary from EnchantedLearning.com. Simply click on a letter at the top of the page to see a chart of words starting with that letter. Each word is paired with an image and brief description. Many of the words also include links to activities and extended explanations. There are even different versions of the picture dictionary for nearly 10 languages. This site is great for preschool and lower elementary kids because it is easy and entertaining to use.

Britannica Kids Dictionary

Britannica's Kids Dictionary features simple, distraction-free pages ideal for children in elementary school. Older kids who prefer a clean and concise dictionary will also love this one. There are no ads crowding the screen and it is organized to perfection. The home screen features a word search bar and the Word of the day, that's it. When you type in a word, you'll get the main definition. There are also optional tabs along the side to see articles, images, videos, or websites related to the searched word.

Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary

The Learner's Dictionary is a great option for older kids who are using it to complete homework and projects. Merriam-Webster is a trusted name in the world of reference books and the site is set up as a simplified version of an adult dictionary. For each word, you'll see multiple meanings with usage examples. In addition, there are fun activities such as the quizzes, Word of the Day, and the ability to see which words are most commonly searched.

Kids' Dictionary Apps

Kids using tablets or phones as their main source of information can find free dictionary apps that help with homework or address curiosities. Most of the big name dictionary companies have an app that is suitable for kids, but there are other great options.

Kids Picture Dictionary

Made for kids ages 3 to 6, the free Kids Picture Dictionary app from EFlashApps features over 600 words and is available on iTunes or for androids. Each letter of the alphabet is paired with common English words for children. Every word has an appropriate image, written sentence example, and spoken sentence example. Kids and parents can use the self-record function to practice saying the words and sentences. While it's not a traditional dictionary, this app shows definitions through images and context.

WordWeb Dictionary

The free WordWeb Dictionary app works great for kids in elementary school through the teen years and can also be found in the GooglePlay Store. It is both a dictionary and a thesaurus making it doubly helpful for kids and is an offline app with no ads to keep kids on task. With nearly 300,000 words and phrases, it resembles a simpler version of a standard dictionary. The intelligent word entry feature suggests other possible spellings as kids type to help correct misspellings.

Older kids using tablet

Dictionaries to Buy for Kids

With all the choices, deciding what to get might be a little overwhelming. Keep in mind your child's needs to find the perfect fit for your family.

The Essential Guide

This is a series of subject-specific dictionaries that is part dictionary, part glossary, and part reference book of just helpful information. For example, the math dictionary has terms as simple as addend and quotient, but it also explores statistics and probability and gives examples of problem-solving strategies for word problems.

Oxford Picture Dictionary

Bilingual dictionaries are becoming more common among the standard picture dictionary genre. The Oxford Picture Dictionary is organized into thematic chapters such as "my house" or "my community." The pictures are engaging scenes with lots to look at, and of course, everything is labeled in both English and Spanish.

Merriam-Webster

Of course, the folks at Merriam-Webster publish one of the best children's dictionaries on the market. Merriam-Webster's Elementary Dictionary is comprehensive for the age level and is a good bridge between a more standard dictionary and a picture dictionary for younger learners.

Kid-Friendly Dictionary Types

When you think of a dictionary, you may think of a reference book that has words and their definitions. However, the world of children's dictionaries delves deeper than that.

  • Subject Specific Dictionary - concentrates on just one subject such as science or a math dictionary with mathematical terms and examples
  • Dictionaries for Toddlers and Preschoolers - have many pictures and simple, large printed words on pages made to be durable
  • Student Dictionaries - shortened versions of adult dictionaries
  • Online Dictionaries - dictionary search engines that also feature games and activities

Resources for the Child Wordsmith

Adult dictionaries can look overwhelming and boring. Help your child build up her vocabulary and become a real wordsmith with a dictionary made for her developmental level. When you provide kids with awesome, age-appropriate resources they can do amazing things!

Kid-Friendly Dictionaries