The Dictionary Project concept began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia, gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. Since its implementation in 1995, over 18 million children have received dictionaries because others saw the same need in communities all over the country. The original goal of providing dictionaries to all third-grade students in South Carolina was met in 1999. In 2002, the Wall Street Journal published a story about the project, and the Dictionary Project took on a national purpose and expanded its mission to include all 50 states.
The program is typically implemented in the third grade, since this is the age when dictionary skills are usually taught. Educators describe third grade as the time when a student transitions from learning to read to reading to learn. In working with the administrators, principal and teachers of Wylie Elementary School in Abilene, the Abilene Wednesday Rotary Club has confirmed the 3rd grade as an appropriate age to give each student a personalized dictionary.
Our goal is to assist all students to become good writers, active readers and creative thinkers. In the spring of 2018,dictionaries were presented to 360 students at Wylie Elementary School, and we see a tremendous appreciation from students in receiving their own dictionary to keep. They exhibit an interest in exploring the words, as well as the other resources such as sign language. Owning their own dictionaries challenges them to learn new words as they begin to broaden their vocabularies and strengthen their reading skills.
Grant funds will be used for the purchase of the dictionaries. It is anticipated that 360 dictionaries will be distributed in the 2018-19 school year at a cost of $2.50 each. Club members participate in putting personalized nameplates in each dictionary, as well as inserting a brief Rotary Club information flyer. Members then participate in the presentation of dictionaries to students at their school campus.