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North Suburban H.S. Grad Pens Book To Improve Vocabulary

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UPDATED 06/27/11 9:28 a.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Few books, outside of the dictionary or thesaurus, teach readers how to properly use words.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports, a north suburban high school graduate has published a book that challenges readers to go beyond their comfort zone by using large, complex words to convey the meaning.

Marissa Hirsch, a Stevenson High School graduate from Riverwoods, says teachers gave her negative marks on papers all the time for using what she calls, “dead words.”

Hirsch says no student likes to see those words that are recalled more easily than most, circled on a term paper.

“They know that’s the reason they got the A- or the B+ instead of the A. So it really, as a student, that’s what inspires me to begin looking into etymology, and really English and language,” she said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Alex Degman reports

But she thought it was useless to toil over the thesaurus to help only herself.

“Why do all of this work and use a thesaurus and a dictionary, and not help other students, or anybody, for that matter, learn to expand their vocabulary, because this system is so much easier than having a thesaurus and a dictionary?” Hirsch said.

Hirsch’s book, The Word Pyramid: The Key to Success in School and Life, teachers readers synonyms with varying degrees of complexity to commonly-used words, in a non-narrative, easy-to-follow formula.

For example, instead of saying, “I picked out my clothing,” one could say, “I picked out my tatterdemalion,” the book says.

Hirsch says schools across the country are deciding whether they will use the book in their curriculum.

Hirsch contends learning one new word per day will help readers drastically improve their vocabulary.