Promote literacy and forge connections with young people through The Dictionary Project. Many Rotary Clubs in District 5500 support this international effort to provide third-graders with their own personal reference book. Founded in 1995, the Dictionary Project has made it possible for Rotary and other organizations to sponsor resource books for more than 31 million students in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia,
Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, nine Canadian provinces, and more than 15 other countries.
The price per book is $3, so a rough estimate is that $100 easily covers one class of third-graders. The total cost per school depends on the size and number of classes.

After determining your club's budget for The Dictionary Project:
1. The first is contacting the school principalto determine interest in receiving the books. “A Student’s Dictionary” is a reference book that includes periodic and multiplication tables, biographies of U.S. presidents, maps and info on all states and countries, American Sign Language alphabet, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and more.

2. Order books from the Dictionary Project. See https://www.dictionaryproject.org  There is a variety of resource books. The delivery time is about three weeks.
3. Decide what your Rotary club would like to do to personalize the dictionary. This could be a label or stamp with your club logo and the Four-Way Test. 

4. Stamping/labeling books is a fun get-together activity for club members.

5. Arrange for delivery of books. Rotarians can visit each school for a brief (15-20 minutes) meeting with the students to talk about Rotary International and your local club, introduce students to the dictionary, and then distribute them. The dictionaries are the property of the students, though teachers may ask to keep them in school for the school year. Some schools ask for presentations in the classroom; others assemble all third-grade classes for one presentation. The 2020-21 school year is totally different, so it will necessitate arranging with the school in the best way to deliver dictionaries to students. The Dictionary Project website is a great resource and includes a video of a Rotary Club involved in the program. 
Please feel free to contact Monique Soria, 520.940.1951. Dictionary Project coordinator for District 5500. She is a member of the Tucson Kino Rotary Club, which sponsors the project in 20 schools.  
Mary French's Podcast is available on line, here are some of her answers.
1. Why are dictionaries still important in the digital age?
Dictionaries are important in the digital age because they help people understand the meanings of words and how to spell them correctly in order to have a respectful conversation and to help people feel more empathetic of their peers by understanding them better. Words are the only way people have to connect with one another. The more words you know the better able you are to understand and connect with other people.  
2. Why do children need dictionaries?
Children need dictionaries to learn the English language correctly. Dictionaries are arranged in different formats. It is important that children learn at least 10,000 words so that they are functionally literate. By that I mean able to follow instructions, ask questions, and carry on a conversation to engage people in order to learn from them or offer to help.  
3. What are the consequences and costs of illiteracy?
The consequences of illiteracy is creating a society that does not value people. It is through reading other people’s thoughts and stories that we realize that we are all more similar than we are different. Benjamin Franklin said: ‘the only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance’. The cost of illiteracy is economic decline. To create a modern society everyone has to be educated. Because people who do not know how to read cannot understand other people.
4. Can children learn from a computer?
Children can learn from a computer but they cannot learn how to use all five senses by using a computer and our senses make us aware of our surroundings and tell us how to use our intuition our hands to create things that will last beyond our lifetime. Computers share information but they do not teach innovation and creativity, the driving force behind change.
5. Are digital natives smarter than our generation?
Every generation lives in a different environment designed by the technology that was created in that time period. All of the words in a dictionary define the tools and resources available at that time in history. Children who were raised with a phone in their hand and limited to only knowing how to use that tool are not as cognizant of people as they are of the internet and people they communicate with through video games and social media who they will probably never meet face to face. Navigating the virtual world is something digital natives understand better than our generation and since most people spend most of their time on the internet they could be considered smarter. But people who use a dictionary to expand their vocabulary will always be considered the smartest people because they have developed within themselves the capacity to create and form more connections.
6. Has artificial intelligence replaced our ability to think for ourselves by preventing us from problem solving, inventing and innovation?
Artificial intelligence is a narrow path to any destination. There are many ways to travel; to rely on Siri or GPS is one way to go but that shouldn’t shut out considering alternative ways to arrive at the same place, i.e maps, reading road signs or asking for directions. Everyone has a different style, that is what makes life interesting.  Getting creative is the best way to solve a problem, not relying on artificial intelligence. AI will show you what has already been done, not a new and better way that can be imagined. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, Plato said that over 2000 years ago. We won’t be creating anything new if we rely on AI to do most of our thinking for us.
7. The evolution of pronouns indicates that our language which is a compilation of our society has become more inclusive of gender, color and religious differences in order to recognize the contribution and innate gifts in every individual.
Mary French
The Dictionary Project    Post office box 1845     Charleston, SC 29402   843-388-8375     843-856-2706