Mike Leonard 2016-05-20 17:08:32
Students now know never to call their teacher an aeolist. Teachers are sure to discourage students from being inaniloquent. And Lions smile with satisfaction, knowing the role they play in usufructuary.* An enriched vocabulary, which helps unlock keys to learning and even enhances friendships, is the great advantage of The Dictionary Project, adopted by Lions in 40 states. Lions clubs and other groups distribute the dictionaries to schoolchildren after purchasing them through The Dictionary Project, a nonprofit based in Charleston, South Carolina. Lions alone have donated 526,000 dictionaries. The dictionary project began in 1995. First among all Lions, Minnesota Lions have distributed 132,940 books. Indiana Lions have passed out 122,024 books and Washington Lions have given away 84,125. We turn to Indiana Lions, an early adopter of the dictionary project in 2004 and the leading contributor among Lions in the last five years, to detail the project—from A to Z, of course. An aeolist is a pompous, windy bore who pretends to have inspiration. Inaniloquent is speaking foolishly or saying silly things. Usufructuary is a person who has use or enjoyment of something, especially property. A student’s Dictionary, a shiny 540-page paperback, is a favored selection of many Lions clubs. It includes standard dictionary words plus the biographies of U.S. presidents, the U.S. Constitution, weights and measures and the longest word in the English language. Students nearly fall off their chairs when they see the 1,909-letter word that is the scientific name for a Tryptophan protein. Book. “We had one child say, ‘This is the first book anybody has ever given me that I can keep.’ When you hear something like that, you know you’ve done some good,” says Linda Scott of the Decatur Central Lions Club in Indiana. “It’s easy to do, and it’s very rewarding. The first year we did it, everybody in the club said it was the most amazing thing we’ve done.” Cost. “The cost of the book is quite low,” says Mary French, the director of the Dictionary Project. “We could offer $10 dictionaries, but we have the cost down for the dictionaries we provide to $1.50- $2.50 including shipping. We want it to be as affordable to as many people as possible.” Desert. “When I give a child a book it’s almost like giving water to someone in the desert,” says French. “They know it’s valuable but nobody’s going to say, ‘Oh, I want a dictionary.’” Eight. Eight different dictionaries are distributed by The Dictionary Project and sponsors such as Lions clubs are free to choose whichever book they want. Other offerings include A Student’s Dictionary & Animal Gazetteer, The Best Dictionary for Students, the American Education Publishing Dictionary, Webster’s American English Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary for Students, Webster’s Dictionary for Students (Special Encyclopedic Edition) and Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus. Four. “Every book that is handed out is shared by at least four people,” says French. “That’s a lot of bang for the buck.” Gratitude. “Gratitude is a word I hear a lot,” French says. “People who participate in the project say children who got a book come up to them and tell them they really like it and use it all the time. Those are the kinds of things you can’t measure.” Adds Howard Heines, a Lakeville Lion, “Once you get your club members into a school and present those children with their own dictionary, for free, that they can put their name on and take home with them, the excitement and joy they express tells you it’s a really good project.” Home. “People say kids have computers now, but all kids don’t have computers. All families don’t have a computer for everyone. You can take your dictionary home with you, and if someone else is on the computer and you need to look up a word, you have your own dictionary,” says Heines, a longtime project proponent. Ideas: “The Dictionary Project also provides lesson plans if you can use them and teachers really appreciate getting new ideas about how to inspire kids to use their dictionaries,” says Scott, a retired schoolteacher. Juxtaposition. French recalls that the first new word she learned as a high school student studying for the Scholastic Aptitude Test was “juxtaposition.” “Now the vocabulary section of the standardized test has been eliminated,” she bemoans. “Clearly, we are lowering our academic standards today.” Kohl’s. Kohl’s department stores helped the Decatur Central Indiana Lions get their Dictionary Project up and running with a $500 grant through its Kohl’s Cares for Kids program. Leader Dogs. When Jeffrey Schafer, 2015-16 council chairman for Indiana, visits Eastern Greene High School to hand out dictionaries and discuss their value he also takes with him a Leader Dog for the Blind that he’s training. “It really opens up the door with children,” he explains. “Who doesn’t like a little puppy?” Money. Lions have been both pragmatic and creative in raising the money they dedicate to the dictionary project. Past District Governor John Scott (married to Linda) of the Decatur Central Lions says his group has used a citrus sale, a flower sale and donations to its booth at the Marion County 4-H Fair. Notes. “The kids write us thank-you notes after they get their dictionaries and we read every one,” says Linda Scott. “Some are quite moving and some are just funny.” Ooh. “They ooh and ahh when they get their books,” says John Scott. Personal. “It’s a personal experience for everyone who participates—the feelings, the look in the eyes, the comments. Everyone makes the most of the moment. The children are very appreciative, even in this age of technology,” French says. Quantity. Nearly 27 million children in all 50 states have received a dictionary through the Dictionary Project, including almost 2 million in the current school year. Almost 10,000 organizations have participated. Recycle. Books have a life of their own. Many students pass on their books to other students and siblings or simply leave it behind in the classroom for the next year’s class. A dictionary really never goes out of style or becomes outdated, at least not in a person’s lifetime. Service Organizations. “When a Lions club or Kiwanis club goes to a school to distribute dictionaries, often it’s the first time these children have ever even heard of the concept of a service organization. It’s another side benefit to the project,” says French. Third grade. The Dictionary Project targets third graders to receive dictionaries. “It’s the period where they transfer from learning to read to reading to learn,” says Heines of Lakeville. URL. Learn more about The Dictionary Project at dictionaryproject.org, email worpower@dictionary project.org, call (843) 856-2706 or write to P. O. Box 1845, Charleston, SC 29402. Vocabulary. “It all starts with words,” says French. “The larger vocabulary you have, the more relationships you can form.” Webster. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Noah Webster,” French says of Webster (1758-1843), the lexicographer whose name has become synonymous with dictionaries. “He wanted the English language to be distinctly American.” XX words are scarce in any dictionary, which may be one reason French loves them. “Xeriscape is my favorite word,” she says. Your Name. “Inside the first page of every dictionary is a box that says, ‘This book belongs to,’” says Heines. “There’s something special about putting your name on the book. It makes them feel important.” Zillion. “Twenty years ago, somebody asked me when I’d reach 100,000 dictionaries,” French says. Now the goal is best described by the definition provided in A Student’s Dictionary for zillion: “An indeterminately huge number.” Mike Leonard is a writer in Bloomington, Indiana, who now knows the meaning of sesquipedalian.
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