We have a huge language diversity in the Anchorage Area, with over 100 languages spoken, and many times, English is not the child's first language. We are blessed to have 5 of the top 10 most diverse schools in the country, right here in Anchorage. Providing dictionaries can help many of these students hone their English skills as a second language. Understanding the language allows them to perform better in school. In the past, we have provided close to 4000 students in the Anchorage area, including the schools on the military bases and the alternative schools. These dictionaries are also a complete resource, containing periodic tables, conversion tables, state capitals, as well as geography, science, and math, information.
A secondary benefit to these books is giving some low-income students something they can use at home. We have found many students may not have a single book in their homes, and some low-income students have very few possessions at all. Giving them something small that they can call their own can help give them some more pride and improve their self-image.
We have 25 to 30 Rotarians involved in the delivery of the dictionaries every year and is one of the most anticipated events of the year. We typically spend a few minutes with the students when giving out the dictionaries, and have the students write their names in their own dictionaries. We also go through some of the information and how they can use the resource. We all look forward to the look on a child's face when they learn the dictionaries are theirs to keep and brighten their day.