Children need dictionaries just like adults—perhaps even more so. As they learn the language and are exposed to new words, having a reliable resource that can present the meanings of new words in a way that is appropriate for their age is a must. Not only do they learn new words, they also develop research skills and confidence in their ability to comprehend the world.
You can find all sorts of dictionaries online, but only a few are aimed at children. What makes a dictionary a "dictionary... for kids?" Good question. You want to look for ones that are age-appropriate and use language accessible to young(er) readers. Here are a few that we think fit the bill.
01 of 03
Word Central uses the Merriam-Webster dictionary to provide results. If a user misspells a word, the dictionary offers suggestions for the correct spelling. It also suggests words that may have multiple interpretations. For example, a search for "scientist" yields a number of results, including "earth scientist," "social scientist" and "political science."
Each definition also offers a link to an audio file of the proper pronunciation of the word.
Kids can find... games on the Word Central site to challenge language and spelling skills, as well as a "daily buzzword."
In addition to its dictionary, Word Central also offers a thesaurus search and a rhyming dictionary, making this site even more useful for students.
Word Central is a valuable and versatile dictionary for kids.
02 of 03
This dictionary is geared towards young learners. It is designed to be browsed rather than searched, and in this way it behaves more like an encyclopedia than a dictionary. Each entry has an illustration and a definition or explanation of the word. Many entries include links to more information.
The words in the Little Explorers dictionary range from extremely common ("hair") to relatively obscure ("Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly"—which is the largest butterfly in the... world, according to Little Explorers). The site now includes multi-language versions include, English-French, English-Dutch and English-Japanese.
03 of 03
Wordsmyth is a full-featured dictionary with entries that include pronunciations, animations, synonyms, photographs and word etymology. Children have the option to search with three different levels: Beginner's, Children's and Advanced.
The Beginner's level is the most fundamental, focusing on a simple primary definition. Children's is slightly more complex with multiple simple definitions.
Wordsmyth also offers several varieties of search, including browse, search filters (focuses... your searchby filtering out entries that don't fit your specified criteria), reverse search (searches the full text of entries for words, word parts and phrases) and A-Z word parts (search by roots and affixes).
Wordsmyth does offer a subscription option, and some features of the site are restricted to subscribers.
The site will also create a few different types of quizzes, so kids can use it for a practice tool as well.