I’m happy to announce the publication of my new book Backpocket Words: Sharing the Essence of English Spelling, available on Amazon around the world including the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and France. (Links below)

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I wrote this book for real spellers, people who have discovered the value of investigating the writing system and revealing its wonders to students. I have found in my own journey that it isn’t easy to explain this work to the uninitiated. But we are moved to try, aren’t we! We live in a world where many people think English spelling is crazy and yet we know this isn’t true. We are enthusiasts! How do we explain ourselves and our work to others?

I have found that the best way to get someone interested in the logic and coherence of spelling is to have a juicy word in your back pocket to talk about. And the best backpocket word is one that has surprised you! This book offers 53 opportunities to experience these surprises and spark a conversation about spelling.

Some of the entries describe my own conversations about spelling with partners in unlikely places – like the foot doctor at the wedding learning the secrets of the word “podiatrist,” the Apple guy on a tech support call posing questions from his childhood about the spelling of "believe" and "receive," my walking partner on a morning trek describing her granddaughter's frustration with the "silent e rule."  At the end of the book are several detailed, close-up views of what this work looks like with young students, and how it might differ from more typical approaches to reading and spelling instruction.

Whether you have been investigating spelling for years or are just beginning to do so, I hope you’ll find provocative and surprising stories here. Just choose an entry and see where it leads.

My friend and colleague, Pete Bowers, had this to say:

Backpocket Words is a joyful and illuminating celebration of the fascinating order of our English spelling system. Gail’s inviting, accessible style makes the book a treasure for anyone seriously curious about language, and an invaluable resource for educators.  Each vignette shines a light on spelling-meaning connections most will not have noticed before. Gail also shows us how to follow the spelling-meaning trail back to a word’s historical origins. Accept the invitation to wander through English spelling with Gail. Not only will you learn about the words in her back pocket, you will learn to blaze your own orthographic trails, for yourself and your conversational partners.

      Peter Bowers, PhD, researcher, author, founder of Word Works Literacy Centre


Here are links to the Amazon pages in five countries where I know shipping has been successful. If you are in a different country, search Backpocket Words and you should find it.