Substitute Teachers: Take Your Reference Library Along With You

As a substitute teacher, you may find yourself handling class topics that are outside your comfortable knowledge zones. Knowing you can quickly and easily consult your traveling reference library can boost your confidence and make you look like an expert, even when you can’t access your usual search engines online. Check out these books for substitute teachers that will make your job that much easier.

General Dictionary

A general dictionary not only helps you with unfamiliar definitions, it can help you or your students with pronunciations, syllabication and even word origins.  One great choice is the Usborne Illustrated Dictionary, recommended for ages 9 through adults. The colorful illustrations make it even more user-friendly by breaking up those endless lines of text.


A dictionary may provide some synonyms and antonyms, but a stand-alone thesaurus brings a whole new level of words to the party. The Not Your Ordinary Illustrated Thesaurus not only provides those useful word lists, but it includes writing topics, just in case you need an on-the-fly way to fill some class time. The Scholastic Pocket Thesaurus is also a good choice for an aid that won’t weigh you down.

Specialty Dictionaries

Once again, Usborne Books & More offers a great selection of math dictionaries, from First Illustrated Math Dictionary and Elementary Illustrated Math Dictionary to the Illustrated Dictionary of Math. Each of them includes definitions, problem samples and links to math puzzles and teaching sites. Theresa Fitzgerald’s Math Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Terms, Strategies and Tables categorizes more than 400 definitions by subjects like algebra, measurement and fractions.

A good science-themed dictionary is also a valuable tool in your question-answering arsenal. Laurie Westphal offers definitions, common formulae and measurement conversions in her Science Dictionary for Kids: The Essential Guide to Science Terms, Concepts, and Strategies. Other great choices include First Illustrated Science Dictionary, Illustrated Elementary Science, Illustrated Dictionary of Science. For middle- and high-school classes, you might find Illustrated Dictionary of Biology, Illustrated Dictionary of Chemistry, and Illustrated Dictionary of Physics useful.

Contact us for more tips and suggestions for your substitute teaching experience.

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