Marvin Terban

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Marvin I. Terban (born April 28, 1940) is an American children's book author. Called a "master of children's wordplay" by ALA Booklist and "Mr. English for Kids" by the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club, he has written over 35 books for young readers, most of them about the English language. He is Scholastic's "Professor Grammar."

Life and career[edit]

Terban was born in Massachusetts, and began as an author with a book that he wrote and drew in the first grade about a fuzzy green dragon. His first real writing job was a weekly column for his local newspaper when he was in high school. He was also the editor of his high school newspaper and literary magazine. He went to Tufts and Columbia Universities, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees respectively. For many years, he has taught English, Latin, Public Speaking, Computer, Theater, and other subjects at the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.[1]

Early in his teaching career, Terban took a break to produce audio-visual educational programs for children at the New York City public television station and CBS. Returning to the classroom with renewed energy, he developed teaching games that used humor to help students understand and enjoy the mystifying idiosyncrasies of the English language. Those games grew into the highly original series of funny books on English for which he is known.

Terban's books have made it as far as Shanghai University in China, where they are used to teach English to adults. His Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms has been translated into Japanese and Korean. Two of his books were turned into early computer games. He and his wife Karen, a former special education instructor, also wrote two activity books for teachers. Three of his Scholastic books, Checking Your Grammar, Dictionary of Idioms, and Dictionary of Spelling, have sold well over one million copies each. In 2005, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, an international organization of over 20,000 creators of children's books, voted Mr. Terban their Member of the Year.

Terban has acted in local community theater plays to raise money for charitable causes. He has also had small parts in movies directed by Woody Allen. For many summers he directed plays at a summer camp. He has paid "Meet the Author" visits to and given presentations about English language arts skills at schools, colleges, and educational conferences all over the United States, South America, Europe, Israel, and Japan. Marvin and his wife live in New York City across from central park. They have two children and two grandchildren.

He has appeared as a guest on the December 19th, 1965 episode of the CBS television show "What's My Line?"[2].


I Think I Thought: And Other Tricky Verbs (1984)

Too Hot to Hoot: Funny Palindrome Riddles (1985)

Your Foot's on My Feet: And Other Tricky Nouns (1986)

Guppies in Tuxedos: Funny Eponyms (1988)

Dove Dove: Funny Homograph Riddles (1988)

Superdupers: Really Funny Real Words (1989)

Punching the Clock: Funny Action Idioms (1990)

Hey, Hay!: A Wagonful of Funny Homonym Riddles (1991)

Funny You Should Ask: How to Make up Jokes and Riddles with Wordplay (1992)

It Figures: Fun Figures of Speech (1993)

Checking Your Grammar (1993)

Time to Rhyme (1994)

Scholastic Writer's Desk Reference (2001)

Punctuation Power: Punctuation and How to Use It (2002)

Kids' Guide to the English Language (2002)

Building Your Vocabulary (2003)

Verbs! Verbs! Verbs! (2003)

Scholastic Dictionary Of Idioms (2006)

Scholastic Dictionary Of Spelling (2006)

Ready! Set! Research! Your Fast And Fun Guide To Writing Research Papers That Rock (2007)

The Ultimate Spelling & Vocabulary Reference (2007)

In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms (2007)

Mad as a Wet Hen!: And Other Funny Idioms (2007)

Eight Ate: A Feast of Homonym Riddles (2007)

The Ultimate Homework Book (2008)

Pocket Guide to Grammar (2010)