An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin and Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.

In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.

Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.

Version 2


Finalist for Colorado Book Awards – Children’s Literature
School Library Journal’s Alternative Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018 List
School Library Journal: Fuse 8 – 2018 American History List
Junior Library Guild Selection


  • “Both Anderson’s text and Baddeley’s illustrations are energetic and compelling… Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.”   ~Kirkus
  • The combination of bold illustrations, humorous anecdotes, and fabulous storytelling makes this true tale anything but boring…a delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated tale…  ~School Library Journal
  • “Thought-provoking and entertaining.” —School Library Connection
  • “Engaging…A comprehensible, lively read.” —Publishers Weekly
  • “Beautifully done…A great book to share with students learning about language.” ~PSLA Teaching and Learning – Literature Review: Elementary List
ALPHA cover
Free Educator Guide from S&S, Additional Activity Packet
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A bit about the writing: