Gift of dictionaries vital literacy link

More than 1,500 pupils across the south will become the proud owners of their very own illustrated dictionaries in coming weeks.

The Invercargill North Rotary project, in its fourth year, was launched at Windsor North School yesterday with the school’s 45 year 4 pupils each given an Usborne Illustrated Dictionary to keep.

Invercargill North Rotary president Russell Everett said about 1600 pupils in Southland and Queenstown would receive the books this term.

The project, supported by the Community Trust of Southland and Mainfreight, aimed to promote awareness of literacy and encourage the use of dictionaries.

Eight-year-old Connor soon found interesting information in his dictionary, with a drawing of a lighthouse which explained each part and how they worked.

Stephanie, also 8, was excited about her dictionary and expected they would probably use them in class as they had been learning about the dictionary project in class. They both agreed the books would be helpful with homework, and Stephanie said her mum would not have to help her with her spelling now.

Principal Roger Stephenson said the dictionary scheme was important, and provided a literacy link.

"As mayor Tim Shadbolt said, they can look at words and find their meanings, and just enjoy language," he said.

"We still send homework home and if they have got their book at home they can use their dictionaries to check meanings and things like that."

Rotary member Anne McCracken said they were fascinating books.

Feedback from school principals was that comprehension levels in reading and writing had lifted since the dictionaries were introduced, she said.

Member Merle O’Donnell said in some areas literacy was very poor, and some children struggled to write their names. The project was targeted at year 4 pupils as that was the year they began focusing on spelling and using dictionaries a lot more at school.