Books give children ‘a leg up’

 Fred and Robin Brown wanted to give back to the community. But rather than write a check, the couple passed out dictionaries.

For the fifth year, the Browns purchased a dictionary for every third grader in town. They distributed 247 books Oct. 16–Noah Webster`s birthday–at Jack Jackter Intermediate School.

`We`re fans of lifelong learning, and good vocabulary is important,` Fred Brown said. `The Colchester budget is cut every year. They need a leg up.`

A Student`s Dictionary is the name of the publication, and it is far from a simple dictionary.

Several other subjects are included in the volume: Biographies of the Presidents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, facts about the planets, maps of the continents, information about the 50 states, and weights and measures.

`The kids love the longest word in the back,` Robin Brown said.

A trivia contest was held to start the celebration.

Four students were selected to read about Webster and the history of the dictionary. Two teams then faced off in the trivia challenge, which tested their knowledge of Webster. `You can call a friend, ask a teacher, or poll the audience for answers,` Assistant Principal Judy O`Meara said.

Teacher Sue Bennett correctly answered the question, `What was the name of Noah Webster`s book?` Answer: `The Blue Backed Speller.`

When O`Meara asked the audience of students, `How many of you are going to go home today and wow your families with information about Noah Webster?` nearly every student raised a hand in response.

To further excite the students about vocabulary, the Browns offered a family four-pack of tickets to the Gallery Cinema as part of a second challenge. After the assembly, each student filled out a slip of paper with their favorite vocabulary word used in a sentence. The Browns choose the winning entry.

As they left the room and were handed their dictionary by Fred or Robin Brown, each student said, `Thank you.`

That sentiment was echoed by Principal Deborah Sandberg. `The kids love what you do,` she said.