Gift of literacy from Meadow Ridge Rotary

Grade 4 kids receive illustrated dictionaries to encourage reading

Dylan Clarke (left) and Ryan Wiens pass around the dictionaries at Golden Ears.

Dylan Clarke (left) and Ryan Wiens pass around the dictionaries at Golden Ears.

Students at Golden Ears elementary received the gift of literacy on Wednesday.

Two classes of Grade 4 students, 55 in total, received Usborne Illustrated Dictionaries from the Meadow Ridge Rotary Club.

The rotary club will be handing out 1,081 dictionaries to Grade 4 students in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district’s 21 schools over seven days.

This is the first year for the project, which took a year to plan.

“We had to make the decision and order the books in November 2015. So what we did was, we were smart, we went out and counted the Grade 3 students and we had to guess at how many Grade 4s,” said Matt DeBruyn, chair of vocational services with Meadow Ridge Rotary.

DeBruyn explained that one of the goals of Rotary International is to promote literacy.

“So instead of having kids only online and on their smart phones and computers, we still believe writing and reading is very important, and certainly having nice dictionaries should help them with developing skills.”

DeBruyn loves that members get to personally hand out the dictionaries.

On Wednesday DeBruyn, along with fellow Rotarians Ineke Boekhorst, Betty Levens and school board chair Mike Murray, issued dictionaries to students at Yennadon, Golden Ears and Kanaka Creek elementary schools.

The dictionaries had to be enticing, explained DeBruyn.

“We had looked at three or four other kinds of dictionaries,” said DeBruyn, but they were all black letters on white paper.

“But these, with the illustrations, you saw, the kids are still reading them when they walk out of here,” he said.

The budget for the three-year program is $32,000.

DeBruyn is hoping to raise more money and expand the project next year to the schools that fall outside of the district.