10th Anniversary of the Abilene Rotary Club’s Third Grade Dictionary Project

Each year since 2006, the Abilene Rotary Club has presented a 860-page, hardcover, color photo illustrated dictionary to every Third Grade student in the Abilene, Chapman and Solomon school districts. In the last ten years, these valuable reference tools have been given to over 2500 area students, as well as their teachers.

Literacy is one of Rotary International’s major avenues of service to the world and the Abilene Rotary Club believes the dictionary project is a wonderful way to encourage reading among the young people in Abilene and the surrounding towns.

 Each guest speaker at Rotary meetings signs a bookplate that is placed inside the front cover of a dictionary.  The student also signs the book plate when they receive the dictionary, demonstrating it is theirs to keep forever. According to Abilene Rotarian Amy Hoch-Altwegg, “Handing out the dictionaries at the schools is a moving experience for members of the club.  For some of these kids, this is their very first hardcover book and they actually hug it and cannot believe it is theirs to keep.  The smile on their faces says it all.”

McKinley School Principal Tom Schwartz said students are now seen reading in their dictionaries during indoor recess when it is too cold to play outside, intrigued by all the great photos and information in the books.   When Rotary distributed the books, one student was heard to say, “Man this is a great day ‘cause now I have one just like my brother got two years ago!”

Rotary’s theme this year is “Be a Gift to the World.”  The Abilene Rotary Club plans to continue this gift-giving long into the future.