S672 Book Review: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Title: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

Author: Jen Bryant

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Publication Info: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (2014)

Suggested Age Range: Grades 2-5



As a person who loves words and has actually asked for a thesaurus for my birthday, I found this book both silly fun and totally informative. The Right Word is the story of the childhood and life of Peter Roget, who created one of the world’s first usable thesauri. As a small child, the death of his father greatly affected him.

Peter Roget begins creating the lists that would be come his Thesaurus

The photo above depicts Peter, a budding writer. But, instead of making up stories, he made lists. He wanted to find exactly the right word for exactly what he was thinking and feeling. And, he discovered, there were often several words that meant the same thing!

Roget struggles to find exactly the right words to express what he and his family are experiencing.

Roget went to medical school, graduated (at 19), was a teacher and speaker at many society events. Uncommon for the time, Roget did not marry until he was 45. He and his wife, Mary, had two children. He watched other people create books similar to his own thesaurus, finally publishing it in 1852. Roget’s Thesaurus made him a famous author!

Beautiful illustrations bring The Right Word to life,

The Right Word is gorgeously illustrated. There are several pages (like the one above) that I would hang in my house as prints, if they were available. The illustrations bring to life the words that Roget struggles to find, and enhance the story of Roget’s life in a beautiful way.

Read-Alikes and Other Books

Word-lovers looking for other books about Roget, the written word, and how words have evolved should check out the following:

Websites, Activities and More

Help library patrons and students learn more about the written word!

  • Thank you, Thesaurus: This activity helps people see the difference between the “right” and the “almost-right” word.
  • The Right Word discussion guide
  • Explore Roget’s online thesaurus
  • Have groups of kids create word clouds. Give each group a word and have them come up with as many different similar words as they can


  1. Hi Emily, I enjoyed your post for another book to add to my TBR list. I especially appreciate how you introduce you read-alikes and websites, activities, and more. They are so inviting!

  2. I recently completed an assignment on Melissa Sweet, so I immediately wanted to see what you thought of this book. I think that her illustrations really help to make the book great, and if you imagine the book with any other illustrations, it just wouldn’t be the same. I think you outlined the story really well, and included some really good information. I’m definitely going to take a look at the read-alikes that you listed!

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