Are You Familiar With These New Words Related to Literacy? Part Two of Two

By Lois E. Huffman, Ph.D.

In the first part of this post, I shared five new or rediscovered literacy terms that I encountered in recent months. Below are more such words connected to reading and writing. Enjoy!

check box fiction

n. Fiction that includes certain story elements, particularly those related to the characters’ race, gender, or sexual orientation, in a token way ( defines tokenism as “doing something…to avoid criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly.” Have you or your students read any novels that could be characterized as check box fiction? What was your response to them? Dann at Liberty at All Costs (quoted in the Word Spy entry) contends that “‘Check box’ fiction really undermines the quality of [one’s] reading experience.” 


n. Online or print article presented in the form of a bulleted or numbered list (Blend: list + article)

Journalists and bloggers have grown fond of this writing structure which “uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article.” ( A listicle often has a cardinal number in its title, such as “Five Things Teachers Can Learn from Students.” Listicles appear on myriad topics and are usually easy to read. Here is an example of a listicle about listicles (The Listicle as Literary Form):

It’s not surprising that this modern format has both detractors and fans. What’s your opinion of listicles? Have you ever written a listicle? Of the listicles you’ve read, which is your favorite or the one you most remember?

Eight Fun Facts About The Listicle
1.   A listicle is an article in the form of a list.
2.   It is kind of like a haiku or a limerick.
3.   It has comforting structure.
4.   It makes pieces.
5.   It puts them in an order.
6.   Language does that too.
7.   Sometimes with great difficulty.
8.   Lists make it look easier.


n. What one reads while standing or sitting around doing nothing (Blend: loitering + literature) (

I have read a lot of loiterature at the hair salon and in medical office waiting rooms. Sometimes I even arrive early for an appointment in order to read magazines I don’t subscribe to. Am I the only person who does this?


adj. “Reading everything; familiar with all or a great amount of literature” (

Are you omnilegent regarding a particular genre or topic? If not, do you know someone who is? Although I’m a voluminous reader, because of my diverse interests, much of my reading is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Vocabulary instruction is the only area where I might be borderline omnilegent. I’ve pored over countless books, articles, and posts on the subject, but it’s highly likely I’ve missed things.

Karyn Gloden shelfieshelfie (a.k.a. bookshelfie)

n. A photo, snapped with a smartphone or other mobile device, of a person in front of a shelf or bookshelves (Blend: shelf + selfie) (

Author Rick Riordan is credited with coining the term (Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange). Shelfies are a way for bookworms to share their best-loved literature or display their collections (Salon). There are bookshelfies galore on Tumblr.

During her presentation at the 2016 NCRA Conference, Donalyn Miller showed several of her students’ shelfies. Thanks to NCRA’s 2016-2017 president Karyn Gloden for the shelfie that accompanies this post!


adj. Having access to a substantial number or a wide variety of books (

If you are a literacy educator, you are probably well-booked. But what about your students and their families? In “Scan This Book!” Kevin Kelly notes that digital libraries may be the gateway to literacy resources for students and adults in the U.S. and around the world.

One massive text digitization effort is the Google Books Library Project which was started in 2004. You can search Google Books to “find the perfect book for your purposes and discover new ones that interest you.” With the Google Ngram Viewer, it’s possible to chart the frequency of a particular word in the digitized texts.

Google’s work to create a digital library is not without critics; however, in 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the project.


n. Words that appear consecutively in a dictionary or similar lexicon (Wordspy Newsletter)

Paul McFedries, the logophile behind Word Spy, spied this word on Twitter. He noted that “If wordneighbors…was in the Oxford English Dictionary, its wordneighbors would be wordmongering and word of mouth.” I think wordneighbors would be a useful term when teaching print dictionary skills or talking about the words in’s “Browse Dictionary” feature. Wordneighbors is a much more efficient way of referring to previous and subsequent entries or surrounding entries in a dictionary.

What new literacy terms have you or your students encountered lately? What words related to reading and writing should be added to the English lexicon? Please let us know.

If you want to explore how the new words in this post were created or just delve into word formation processes with your students, please check out Parts One, Two, and Three of the Viva Vocabulary! series, “New Words: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?”