Fostering literacy and a desire to read and learn is paramount for young children. Developing an interest in reading and the curiosity to explore through reading can be very challenging with those children who come from our most financially challenged families. Many children entering 3rd grade have never even owned a book, and many struggle with literacy. So, right here in Petaluma, a now national Rotary program was created to address this concern.
What if every third grade student in Petaluma were provided with their very own book filled with all sorts of information and pictures on all sorts of subjects? What if every third grade student got the same book so that teachers could incorporate the information in those books into their curriculum? What if teachers could do that in a way that allowed the children to look up the subjects that interest them the most? The three Rotary clubs in Petaluma have joined forces to do exactly that. Every year, every third-grade student in Petaluma receives their very own book. We refer to this book as a children’s dictionary. However,it is much more than just a dictionary. It is a blend of a dictionary and a children’s encyclopedia with all sorts of information and pictures that help to foster curiosity, and inspire reading.
To-date the three Rotary clubs in Petaluma have given out over 10,000 Children’s Dictionaries, helping teachers to inspire children to read, to explore, and to improve their literacy. Teachers report back that the day these children receive their books is one of the hi-lights of their year. They make a real impact, inspiring kids to read and to explore the subjects that ignite their imagination. This project (more commonly referred to as the “Dictionary Project”) continues today with the support of Rotary, our partners, and those who support us through donations and by sponsoring and / or participating in our fundraisers.