Call for papers: Children’s dictionaries

Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America invites submissions for a special issue focused on the topic of Children’s Dictionaries, edited by Susan Rennie.

Children’s dictionaries have a long history within the practice of lexicography, from Renaissance dictionaries compiled to aid the learning of Latin to the latest dictionary apps designed for use in schools. In content and style they are enormously varied, ranging from pedagogical dictionaries written for classroom use to whimsical glossaries of words in children’s fiction; and they span a wide age range from first word books and picture dictionaries to dictionaries aimed at high-school students.

A children’s dictionary is very different to an adult dictionary of the same size and headword count; and decisions over which words are allowed into, or excluded from, children’s dictionaries can be emotive. More weight may be given to words used in fiction, and less to slang and current buzzwords. Definitions and usage examples will reflect the experience of children rather than grown-ups; and children’s thesauruses typically have a more creative focus than their adult counterparts.

Despite these important differences, and the long and varied history of children’s dictionaries, there has been comparatively little research to date on the topic, and the specialism is often passed over in general surveys or handbooks of lexicography. This special issue aims to redress that imbalance. As well as pertaining to lexicography and dictionary history, the topic also has relevance for researchers in education, psychology and children’s literature.

Articles are invited on any aspect of children’s dictionaries, including but not limited to the following:

  • the history of children’s dictionaries or children’s lexicography
  • the compilation of children’s dictionaries, including the use of dedicated corpora
  • the content of children’s dictionaries, including the treatment of potentially sensitive terms
  • prescriptive versus descriptive approaches in children’s dictionaries
  • the relationship between children’s dictionaries and children’s fiction
  • the design of children’s dictionaries, including the role of illustration and typography
  • thesauruses or topic-based dictionaries for children
  • children’s dictionaries in languages other than English, including bilingual and ELT
  • digital applications in children’s lexicography
  • children’s dictionaries and literacy
  • dictionary usage by children and/or in schools

Full papers should be submitted to guest editor Susan Rennie (
by January 15, 2022. Informal inquiries before that date are welcome.

All papers will be reviewed anonymously by at least two peers.

Information about the journal and guidelines for contributors can be found here.

Publication is planned for Spring 2022 (volume 43, issue 1).