London Rotary Club helps third-graders look it up with dictionary donations

With her pigtails bouncing, Page opened her shiny, new Webster`s dictionary Friday and creased the front page. Practically pressing her nose inside the book, she started looking up the word `beneficial,` as instructed.

Lewis was pleased with her new acquisition.

`It`s cool how it helps me learn,` she said.

Over in the next London Elementary classroom, Peyton was likewise flipping through his new book.

`I like it cause it will help me do my homework,` he said.

When asked what kind of homework he expects to use the dictionary for, Peyton shrugged and then thoughtfully answered.

`Probably math,` he said.

Every third-grader in the district — a total of 960 kids — received a dictionary last week courtesy of the London Rotary Club, whose members have been handing out the tomes for the past two years.

`One of the four avenues of service in the Rotary Club is community
service,` explained Mike Giles, president of the London Rotary Club. `The Club felt that a dictionary project would be a good way to promote literacy for the kids in this community.`

The dictionaries come from a non-profit organization called The Dictionary Project, whose goal is to give a free dictionary to 4,170,598 kids, the number of third graders across the country.

Last year, 2,330,715 dictionaries were given to students.

Dictionary Project Office Manager Anya Leveille said the undertaking has more benefits than just improving spelling and vocabulary development.

`We`ve also found that having adults from the community, who aren`t their parents or their teachers, coming in and giving students an educational gift reinforces that the people in the community really care about their education,` she said. `And the teachers love it because they all have the same book and they can incorporate that into their lessons.`

Leveille said the dictionaries can teach another lesson, as well.

`We encourage kids to write thank-you letters to their sponsors to cultivate gratitude,` she said.

After receiving the book, each student was taught about the Rotary`s four-way test, which asks the questions: `Is it the truth?,` `Is it fair to all concerned?,` `Will it build goodwill and better friendships?,` and `Will it be beneficial to all concerned?`

In turn, the kids were asked to look up the word `beneficial` in their new dictionaries.

Jamie Harrison, Rotary treasurer and chair of the local Dictionary Project, said the kids were happy to receive the gifts.

`When you tell them it`s their dictionary, their faces just light up,` he said. `It`s pretty awesome.`