Dictionaries promote literacy

Remember the joy that you felt when you owned your very first book or the excitement that overcame you when you discovered new words as you learned how to read? The Bath Rotary Club has joined with other Rotary Clubs in New York State and throughout the country to improve literacy in local, national, and international communities through the Dictionary Project.

On October 11th as part of October’s National Information Literacy Awareness Month, Becky Stranges, Bath Rotary Club President and Literacy Project Coordinator, along with Bath Rotarians Al Johnson, Robin Lattimer, Mike Slovak, John Stranges, Elaine Tears, and Neal Wrinkle presented copies of student dictionaries to all third graders at the Vernon E. Wightman Primary School in Bath. The books will inspire the students to learn and to sense a pride of ownership; for many students this dictionary is the first book they have ever owned. Its usefulness extends beyond the spellings, pronunciations, and definitions it lists.

The goal of the Dictionary Project is to assist all students in completing their school years as good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners. The dictionary, a gift to each student to use at school and at home, is perhaps the first and most powerful reference tool that a student should own. In addition, students benefit from an increased self-reliance and resourcefulness since they can explore new words on their own. Teachers benefit by knowing that their students have consistent access to a tool for homework and in-class use.

Receiving the dictionaries from Rotary members is also beneficial to students in that it allows them to meet successful adults in their community who care enough about them to come to their school to present the books to them personally. Hopefully, the students will benefit not only educationally but also will realize the importance of service in their community and around the world.

In order to promote literacy further, highly valued by all Rotarians, books, donated by the local club members, will be given to the local library or some other institution or organization in honor of the speakers at the club’s weekly luncheon meetings. In addition, the local club sponsors magazine subscriptions for the Dormann Library and fills bookshelves at laundromats, banks, hospitals, and the library with children’s books.

In a letter sent home to the parents of all third graders Stranges wrote, “We hope you will take time to read with your child and encourage the use of the dictionary whenever an unfamiliar word should appear. A strong vocabulary is a vital ingredient in the recipe for success in life. Together we can share the dream that all children in the world may be afforded a chance to become literate.”

The local club will also present dictionaries to all third graders at Campbell-Savona Central School on October 18th. Since this is the first time that the Bath Rotary Club will enrich the school years for these students, Stranges and a group of local Rotarians look forward to meeting those students, their teachers, and respective administration.

Rotary, the world’s first service club, as well as the largest, with over 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas is an international organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. The Bath Rotary Club, chartered in 1923, is proud to follow the ideal of “Service Above Self.”