Take-home reading: Club gives dictionaries to Framingham students

It’s Harry Potter week at Stapleton Elementary School, and third graders were buried in their books Monday morning.

But they weren’t reading about J.K. Rowling’s famous wizard. All eyes were on the students’ brand-new dictionaries.

The books came courtesy of the Charles River Rotary Club, which has been giving them to Framingham students for five years.

Close to 60 third graders at Stapleton got dictionaries Monday. In total, nearly 700 public and private school students in Framingham will have received new books by next week.

The club’s efforts are part of The Dictionary Project, a national literacy initiative started in 1995 where Rotary Clubs and other service organizations across the country distribute dictionaries.

The Charles River Rotary Club, founded by the Natick and Wellesley Rotary Clubs, got involved five years ago when looking for a charity to run locally.

‘We’re a small club, and we wanted to pick a project we could manage,’ president Peter Barnes said.

Monday morning, past Rotary Club president Lyman Jackson, club member Linda Stetson and Barnes wheeled in several boxes of paperback copies of ‘A Student’s Dictionary.’

The books were given to students of third-grade teachers Nancy Purpura, Julie Gelardi, Linda Sydell and Bridget Shine.

‘This isn’t one of those big dictionaries that’s heavy to carry around,’ Jackson told them. ‘You can put it in your backpack, carry it around with you, or put it in your cubby. It’s yours to keep.’

As well as a list of words and definitions, the dictionaries include maps and measurements, information about U.S. presidents and other trivia. Sydell said her students would be interested in the section on the solar system, a topic the class is studying this year.

‘We tried to find the right dictionary for third graders,’ Jackson said.

Students immediately began flipping through the books.

‘It’s very touching when you go to some of these schools,’ Barnes said. ‘The kids get so excited. For some of them, it’s the first book they’ve ever had.’

Stapleton literacy specialist Roseanne Kates said the books were a welcome gift as the district continues to face budget shortages.

‘It’s nice to have a partner like (the Rotary Club),’ she said. ‘Especially with the budget crisis we’re involved in.’

Stapleton’s classrooms already have dictionaries, but the textbook-sized editions can’t leave the school.

‘The beauty of these (new books) is the kids can take them anywhere,’ Kates said.

The Rotary Club’s reputation has begun to precede it, Barnes said.

‘The kids say, ‘You’re the dictionary guys,’ ‘ he said.

(Scott O’Connell can be reached at 508-626-4449 or soconnel@cnc.com.)
Copyright 2010 The MetroWest Daily News. Some rights reserved

The following comments were posted on the MetroWest Daily News website:

J01701 wrote:

My 3rd grader received her dictionary. At first I thought, geez, what a waste of money, I have a dictionary on the bookshelf, but it has remained in her backpack and I have seen her look up about a dozen words since she has received it. Thank you Charles River Rotary Club for your generous gift!

GabaGabaHey wrote:

My kids still flip through theirs from several years ago. Great project and consistency from those Rotary folks.

kateelis wrote:

THANK YOU to the Charles River Rotary Club. My son has been reading it (cool facts and statistics) for days now. He cannot put it down. And, he loved seeing his name in the front of the book – made it even more special for the kids.