Third graders receive dictionaries from Norwich Rotary

Diane received a gift Wednesday morning, equipping her with just the words she needs to teach her family English.
Diane, an 8-year-old who attends Veterans Memorial Elementary School, was one of hundreds of the city’s third graders who received a free dictionary, thanks to the Norwich Rotary Club.
For Diane, dressed from head to toe in purple to celebrate the school’s Spirit Day, the book is a vital tool — her father, mother and grandmother don’t speak the language.
“I’m excited because I can show them how to speak English,” Diane said. “I don’t know that many words, either, and I really want to learn lots of words.”
The Norwich Rotarians have participated in the dictionary drop-off for more than a decade. The dictionaries come from The Dictionary Project, a national nonprofit whose goal is to help students become “good writers, active readers and creative thinkers.”
“They’re fascinated with the back of the dictionaries at first,” Veterans Memorial third-grade teacher Amie Bourbeau said. “They like to see the list of big words. They love to see who can pronounce the whole word first.”
According to The Dictionary Project, third grade is the year chosen for the dictionary drop-off because it’s the year where most schools teach dictionary skills. Experts also say the third grade represents a critical juncture in a child’s education.
“We’re going through vocabulary instruction, and they’re still learning how to use a dictionary,” Bourbeau said. “They come in handy.”
For Joshua, a third grader at Veterans Memorial, the dictionary will be useful at home.
“I usually go on the computer and play games,” Joshua, 8, said. “Sometimes I don’t understand the words I see, so this dictionary will help me.”
Gary Young, a Norwich Rotarian, was on the team that handed out the dictionaries at Veterans Memorial.
“We’re a civic organization,” Young said. “We’re all volunteers, and this is what we like to do.”
Thalia, 8, appreciated the giveaway.
“I like learning new words and what they mean,” Thalia said. “I don’t have a dictionary at home, and this will help me spell the words I don’t know.”

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