Children, adults broaden their vocabularies at the library

By Curt Yeomans


The word "Scrabble" is worth 14 points. Twenty-eight points, if the player puts a letter on a "Double Word Score" block.

People who play the game, which goes by the same title, can make "gift," or "ale" branch off of the word "utensil." The words "fax," "yoke," and "curl" can branch off of "furry."

The Clayton County headquarters library started a "Scrabble Club" in January to give local children an activity to do in a safe environment, while also giving them a chance to compete in an educational environment.

"I thought their might be a need to help improve children's vocabulary, and this might be a good way to do it," said Diane Flores, youth services assistant for the library system, and founder of the club. "This is a chance for them to get together and learn how to play each other without getting mad. It helps their reading skills and they can build on their vocabulary by learning new words."

The "Scrabble Club" meets on the second, and fourth Thursdays of every month, from 6 p.m., to 7:30 p.m., in the children's section of the library, at 865 Battlecreek Road, Jonesboro.

There are six "Scrabble" boards, which allows up to 24 people to play the game, if everyone plays two-on-two, Flores said. The club is free to join.

There are anywhere between four and 10 people who show up for any given "Scrabble Club" meeting, Flores said. While the club is geared toward children, it is open to people of all ages who want to join.

"I'm hoping that, as word gets out about the club, more people will start coming, and they will bring more people with them," She added.

The game is played on boards which are 15 squares across, by 15 squares down. There are 98 tiles which have a letter and a point value on each one.

The aim is to make a new word branch off of a word which is already on the board. The players keep playing until every letter tile is used.

"It's your turn," Kahlil Pinkney, 9, said to Imani Simmons, also 9, his opponent at the April 10 "Scrabble Club" meeting.

"Give me a minute, I'm trying to think of a word," Simmons replied with a hint of frustration in her voice.

"Take your time, I can wait all day ... Well, I do have video games to play later on, actually," Pinkney said.

The good-natured ribbing between Pinkney and Simmons continued throughout their game. He would challenge words she put on the board, and she would return the favor when he used questionable words. When a challenge is issued, the person who loses the challenge loses a turn.

"Yip is not a word," Simmons said to Pinkney at one point in the game.

"Yes it is, look it up," He replied.

"OK, fine, I will," said Simmons as she pulled out a dictionary.

"See, I told you it was in there," Pinkney said when his opponent found the word was, in fact, in the dictionary. "You lose a turn."

Pinkney led throughout the game, which spawned words such as "utensil," "ale," and "dung." With only 10 minutes left in the meeting, Pinkney said, "Don't worry, you can still come back, the score is only 177-104."

Pinkney, who joined the club in March, said he has enjoyed attending the meetings, because he gets to compete against other people who are his own age, and he gets to improve his vocabulary at the same time.

"I've learned maybe four, or five new words, such as 'yin,' and 'zo.' I always knew you spelled 'zoo' with two 'O's, but when I started playing this game, I found out you can spell it with only one 'O,' " Pinkney said.