How do you spell a gift for words? D-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-y

A dictionary isn’t just any book. It’s one you can use over and over and over. Good spellers and precise writers need dictionaries.

Study a dictionary if you want to win at Scrabble or you’re stuck on a crossword clue. Read a dictionary if you don’t have anything else handy; you’re sure to learn something.

In this digital world, there’s still a place for an ink-on-paper dictionary. It’s cheaper than a computer and far more reliable than spell-check. You can keep one on a shelf at home or carry it around in a backpack.

Every scholar ought to own a dictionary, and we’re grateful to service clubs across the state for trying to put one in the hands of every third grader. Almost 60,000 have been distributed – free – this fall. These aren’t school books: They belong to the children.

The Arizona donations are part of a national program called The Dictionary Project, started by a woman in Savannah, Ga., in 1992. More than 14.4 million have been given away. They include more than just lists of words and definitions. There are biographies of the presidents, descriptions of foreign countries and more.

Here in Southern Arizona, recipients have included kids in big public districts such as TUSD, Marana, Amphi, Flowing Wells, Sunnyside and Vail and in private, parochial and charter schools.

Regionally, at least 20 Rotary Clubs, five Elks Lodges and a Lions Club have raised money to buy and donate dictionaries this fall, according to The Dictionary Project’s website.

Debbie Haddock, services chair for the 17-member Kino Rotary, told us that group just finished donating 1,700 dictionaries to students in 12 Sunnyside and three TUSD elementary schools.

It’s the fifth year the club has donated dictionaries. It raises the money from Rotary members and from a golf tournament presented by Southwest Foodservice Excellence.

One of the highlights of distributing dictionaries this fall, Haddock said, was when fifth-graders at Santa Clara Elementary talked to the third graders about how they’re still using their books.

The Dictionary Project points out that third grade is a time when students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

We hope that Tucson’s newest dictionary owners will learn from theirs for years to come. Thank you to the Rotary and other service organizations that make it possible.