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American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds

reviewed by Mary Jo Fresch - January 22, 2007

coverTitle: American Bee: The National Spelling Bee and the Culture of Word Nerds
Author(s): James Maguire
Publisher: Rodale Books, New York
ISBN: 1594862141 , Pages: 370, Year: 2006
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When asked to review American Bee I must confess I am a word nerd and was already halfway through the book. James Maguire provides a fascinating history and a cliffhanger about students who reach the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Maguire takes us on a journey through a competition as American as apple pie. Begun as a small community gathering in the 1700s, this long-standing competition has evolved into a televised ESPN event. What we see each year is approximately 100 students no older than eighth-grade age, with numbered placards hanging around their necks, pelting letters into a microphone. What we dont see is the months, and even the years, of practice these students (and their families) invest in the event. Maguire provides the history of the Bee, of the English language, and in particular, of the five students who spelled their way to the top to compete in the 2005... (preview truncated at 150 words.)

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 22, 2007
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12932, Date Accessed: 9/25/2021 6:11:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Mary Jo Fresch
    Ohio State University
    E-mail Author
    MARY JO FRESCH is an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University at Marion. She currently teaches literacy and children’s literature courses to pre-service and in-service teachers. Her research interests focus on how children learn the specifics of the English language for purposes of spelling, vocabulary, and reading. She has published books (Teaching and Assessing Spelling, The Spelling List and Word Study Resource Book, and Spelling for Writers [a classroom series]) and scholarly articles (in Journal of Literacy Research, Language Arts, and Reading Teacher) on spelling. She is currently exploring the attitudes and skills of adult spellers.
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