Choice Words

The book called Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning written by Peter Johnston, is one of the best books I have ever read that is meant to educate educators.  And that it does, and as you will see, my peers agree.  Peter Johnston collaborated and researched alongside a few colleagues for a decade, gathering teachers statements that bettered childrens' learning, left them with a sense of agency, identity, and accomplishment; and change the way they view the world, their peers, and most importantly themselves.

Editorial review from the publisher;
"Choice Words shows how teachers accomplish this using their most powerful teaching tool: language. Throughout, Peter Johnston provides examples of apparently ordinary words, phrases, and uses of language that are pivotal in the orchestration of the classroom. Grounded in a study by accomplished literacy teachers, the book demonstrates how the things we say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for what children learn and for who they become as literate people. Through language, children learn how to become strategic thinkers, not merely learning the literacy strategies."

Book Club:  Choice Words by Peter Johnston


At its deepest reaches, education gave me an identity as a knower. It answered the question “Who am I?” [but it also answered the question ] “what is the world?” . . . and the same knowledge that gave me a picture of myself and the world also defined the relation of the two. . . . What is the nature of the knower? What is the nature of the known? And what is the nature of the relations between the two? These questions belong to a discipline called epistemology.    (Pg. 53)

     “Sticks and stones may break my bones
    But words could never hurt me.”
    And this I knew was surely true
    And truth could not desert me.
    But now I know it is not so.
    I’ve changed the latter part;
    For sticks and stones may break the bones
    But words can break the heart.
    Sticks and stones may break the bones
    But leave the spirit whole,
    But simple words can break the heart
    Or silence crush the soul.

Overview - Choice Words Product Details
  • Pub. Date: January 2004
  • Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Synopsis Johnston (education, State University of New York-Albany) shows how elementary teachers can build emotionally and relationally healthy learning communities in the classroom through language. He provides examples of ordinary words, phrases, and uses of language that encourage students to become strategic thinkers and acquire literacy skills. His explanations of the significance of these examples draws on the disciplines of discursive psychology, narrative psychology, discourse analysis, and conversational analysis. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR