Learning New Vocabulary and Life Lessons from Lemony Snicket

Posted by on November 16, 2012.

When I was eight years old I discovered the thirteen books titled A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was in third grade when I read the first one, The Bad Beginning.

The series follows the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, through their turbulent (and rather unlucky) lives following their parents sudden deaths. They are left in the custody of their “uncle,” Count Olaf, who we soon find out is someone that you never want to encounter. Throughout all thirteen books, the parentless siblings travel to abandoned towns, islands full of flocks of sheep, austere private schools, and many more threatening locations, trying to escape the grasp of Count Olaf.

It’s not just the intriguing plot that gets you hooked, though. The author, Daniel Handler, under the pen name Lemony Snicket, incorporates mini language “lessons” within every chapter of every book. Through these sneakily hidden instructions, I learned what “to make a mountain out of a mole hill” meant, and the definitions of words like “penultimate” and “ersatz.”

They didn’t just teach me how to properly use puns though. This series taught me about death and how to handle difficult situations, through it’s always eventful and twisting plot. Lemony Snicket made me believe that if the Baudeliers could handle carnivorous leaches and slippery, Arctic mountains, then I could overcome anything in my path.

In 2005, my father had a heart attack and had to go in for quadruple bypass surgery. I had the 11th book in the waiting room with me. Reading about how the orphans fashioned a raft out of sticks and Violet’s hair ribbons and escaped from the grim grotto in which they were trapped, gave me hope that my Dad was going to do the same coming out of that operating room.

Every child (and adult for that matter) should have this series on their bedside table. It enthralls them with its perfect use of language, action, and emotion.

Anyone that reads them becomes a fan. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Learn more about the series at Wikipedia.

Preview a few pages and pick up a copy at Amazon.

Check out the series website, which has games, information, activity sheets, and more.

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